The plan for the first day of our weekend was to drive up to a fishing village on Lake Edward, although I wasn’t sure what to expect. Saturday was also our first day waking up at the home stay. My breakfast consisted of tea and a bean stew with meat. As I was eating, I realized that even if we left at that time (8:00) we would still be late to meet the rest of the group (which was at 8:00). I casually brought up the time, but to my surprise my buddy and her sister just smiled and said, “Yep, we are going to be late!” Alright, no big deal, we would be five to ten minutes late, I thought. However, the time ticked closer to 8:15 and the sisters were still piling more food on their plates. At 8:30, everyone was finally finished. Then my buddy announced, “Now we will bathe!” So, after twenty more minutes, we left to go the school. We were a full hour late, and although I was greeted by many sassy comments from my Groton friends, not a single Bishops student or teacher seemed perturbed. Apparently, many people had only arrived ten minutes prior. One thing I still have not grown accustomed to here is the unhurried and go-with-the-flow attitude of the Ugandans. If I were ten or fifteen minutes late to meet a bus at Groton, it would have already left.
So, after a stressful start to the morning, we all departed for Lake Edward. The two hour drive left many tired and car-sick; which should probably be accredited to the state of the roads. Picture the surface of mars compressed into a seven-foot wide path (two-ways!). Somehow vehicles always manage to squeeze by each other, but a motorcycle did lightly strike our van. At one point, we stopped in a village twenty minutes from our destination and witnessed a truck haul up a relatively steep road, only to be stopped by a man who jumped out of the passenger side and stuck a log under the tire. Needless to say, driving in the U.S. and driving in Uganda are two different things.
One of the cool parts of the journey was driving through a national park and seeing a variety of Ugandan wildlife: water buffalos, impalas, baboons, and even an elephant. We stopped at the Congo/Uganda border and crossed over by foot, so all of us have officially been in at least two African countries. To any of those who have read Heart of Darkness: we had a quick look into the Congolese jungle and it is extremely foreboding.
After the border-crossing, we hopped back in our vans and drove to the restaurant in the fishing village and ate a lunch comprised of your typical Ugandan meal plus some type of fish, which according to those who ate it was very good. Kei Nawa grossed everyone out by eating his fish’s eyeball. “It’s pretty good,” he claimed, but I still think/hope he was joking. Soon after lunch we moved outside to watch a singing and dancing performance by a local group of kids. Although us non-Swahili-speaking folk had absolutely no idea what was being said, this is what I gathered: four drunk men stumble around for a while, find four bird-women, gain sobriety, and engage in a very exuberant and exciting dance. Feet were the instruments of choice but drums and maracas were also being played in the background. Second part of the performance: a tyrannosaurus rex, turtle, and lion are hunted by four poachers who are then taken down in a rather aggressive beating dealt by protectors of the wildlife. Although the whole thing was confusing it was definitely entertaining and impressively performed by kids ranging in age from about 6-20.
The final leg of the trip was a ten minute pit-stop at Lake Edward. One of the fishers briefly explained the lifestyle/work there. We milled around for a bit, saw some hippos, and jumped back in the vans. Mid-way through our return, the radiator in my car gave out and we were forced to ditch on the side of the road while white smoke filled the air. Unfortunately, it was just water vapor and nothing exploded. There was also a cell-tower across the road from where we broke down, so we were saved ten minutes later. Pretty disappointing that nothing more radical happened.
We got back to Rukungiri around 6:30 PM, and I think I can speak for everyone by saying we were pretty tired. I ate dinner, chatted with the fam, and headed off to bed.
We are missing all of you! Unfortunately we don’t have to opportunity to get in contact with friends/family while we are at the home stays, but on Friday I’m sure everyone will reach out.