Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lions and Elephants and Warthogs, Oh My!

I'm still here! Well, here being Uganda. I am no longer in Kabale. I am in Queen Elizabeth National Park for the time being. I shall explain all...
So, the past week has been great. Last Saturday, I went with Joab and Joan to Mbarara, about a two hour drive from Kabale, to his neice's give away ceremony. A give away is a pre-wedding ceremony where the bride's family formally recognizes the groom and his family as being part of the family. It felt a little like a wedding reception: there was an MC, entertainment (traditional musicians and dancers), and food- but not silverware :). All of the women present wore traditional dresses. It was very interesting, even though the entire thing was in Rukiga.
Sunday night, the team from Modesto came over for dinner. It was a fun afternoon, hanging out with the family, getting ready for the guests. I made the chipati- fried in a pan over a fire. It is also worth noting that there was another Spider Incident that night. I was just getting ready to "shower" when a spider crawled out from under my bucket of water. This time I just tipped the bucket over and drowned the hateful thing. So, I guess Joan was right: hot water is a very effective spider killer. The week was pretty normal, pretty routine, with the exception of friends! from home being here. I've really enjoyed seeing familiar faces around and being with friends. I spent a day working at the farm the school runs with the team from Modesto. It felt good to to some work where the results were immediately visible.
I've been having a great time with the kids at Akanyajuka (the orphanage). I think I enjoy teaching the middle (ages four and five) best. They are so adorable. Every morning before classes, they have a few minutes to share news with their classmates. The student with "news" comes up to the front, and says "Newsey-news" to which the others respond, "Tell us, tell us please." Usually the news is something like "Last night I ate beans an matoke for dinner." Shocker- you eat beans and matoke every night! So yeah, they are a lot of fun. The girls from the Modesto team came and visited the other day to play with the kids. We were hanging out, having a good time, when a little guy named Brian crawled into my lap and just started crying the biggest tears I've ever seen, without making a sound. It was adorable and heartbreaking at the same time. I never found out what was so troubling, but apparently it was nothing a Jolly Rancher from my pocket couldn't fix.
I've been having a great time with Trinity students, as well. I'm also making great friends among the staff there. Sam, one of the English teachers, is giving me Rukiga lessons. That is the local language. I can now count to ten and am learning the days of the week. Yay me! Mostly, I spend my days there grading papers, going to classes, hanging out with students, and doing Bible studies. Thursday was the team's last day in Kabale, and KTC had a goodbye cermemony for them that evening. At the very end, the entire student body sang God Be With You Till We Meet Again, and I got so incredibly sad just thinking about it being my turn to leave soon. I may feel differently in three weeks time, but the thought of leaving is quite the unhappy one. Of course, I miss my friends and family at home, but that does not make saying goodbye to Kabale any easier.
The team was doing a few days of touring after they left Kabale, and invited me to join. Insisted, that I join is maybe more accurate! Not that I mind at all; the few days off will be, and have been so far, very nice. I think it will be a nice way to step back, evaluate the last month, and prepare for the next one. We traveled to Queen Elizabeth National Park on Friday, which took pretty much all day. The resort is absolutely lovely. Hot showers! Yummy food! Gorgeous views! As much as I enjoy this taste of familiar things, it's also true that my cravings for familiarity are only as strong as I let them be. I only "need" Wheat Thins as much as I tell myself I do.
So, my "vacation" began with an early morning safari today! It was fun. Epic fun. Basically, I sat on the roof of a Land Rover driving all over the savannah this morning. We saw elephants, which I was insanely excited about, because, this being my third time in Africa and all, you'd think I'd have seen one before now. That was very cool. There were also plenty of water buffalo, gazelles, warthogs, water bucks, and deer. The hilight of the trip was definitely the lion, though. He was there maybe 50 yards off the trail, sitting on top of a termite hill overgrown with foliage. We convinced our guide to drive around him so we could see better. Just below him was his morning's kill. Even from our vantage of about ten yards, he was quite intimidating! He looked quite the king of his domain. So, that was quite the experience. Also, there are mongooses (mongeese?) that run around the resort like squirrels. You can pet them, too. This evening we are taking a boat tour of Lake Edward, where there are lots of hippos. Tomorrow we travel to Jinja, where we will white water raft on the Nile River. I'm super excited for that. This is quite the adventurous weekend! As much fun as I am having, it will also be great to get back to Kabale, and continue my work there.


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  2. That sounds epic! Thanks for writing these "updates," it is fun to live vicariously through your tales!
    Take care!
    Renee Dutter

  3. What an adventure...lucky girl! Don't think of it as "goodbye" when you leave Kabale - think of it as a time to gather more resources at home before you return - even if that only means toys from a pinata. Be safe ~