Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mother Nature pulls out her little black dress

In the past few weeks, there has been an unexplainable growth in the number of times when I've wished I had my camera close at hand. Mother Nature has been showing off a bit, here in Ngora, Uganda

About 4 days ago, I saw a Monitor Lizard while (biking) to Kumi, the other day. This guy was a good 3.5-4 feet in length...and he knew he could scare the crap out of me if he felt like it. I blame it on watching too many documentaries on Komodo Dragons from Indonesia. He waddled (please don't tell him I said he "waddled") off the road, but stopped on the side to stare me down, sending out is split tongue in odd directions. I was convinced by his confidence and made every motion to give him his space, nearly crashing in the process.

2 days prior, I was presented with a 3-scorpion, furiously trying in vain to escape his prison in the form of my pancake mixing bowl. I quickly noted that, for said scorpion to arrive inside of the bowl...it must have fallen from a height above it. Which means my rafters. Hm.

On my way, the same day, to meet up with my four legged friends (the piglets, who are my new wrestling partners), I nearly stepped on the biggest damned snake I've ever seen. He was a solid 4 feet, and a full fist in girth. Scared me half to death! I went back quickly (only because the parish chef saw me jump, and I had to get back my street cred) with a stick and machete to try and kill it. Unfortunately, I found it again...but fortunately, my dangerous front was convincing enough for him to bolt into the impenetrable bush, just behind the piglet's quarters. He's waiting for me. Oh, and don't worry; Ugandan's say they know exactly what kind of snake it is, after describing it to them...VERY poisonous. I am not going to say it was a Black Mamba, because that would make the story nearly unbelievable...but damned if it doesn't look just like one, from google images.

Not for the first time, but perhaps for the longest running, the sun has been seriously beating down on me in the day. Every day seems to be another endurance test in which I know I'm going to lose. Pride alone keeps me biking to town and to the village areas...exhaustion and lack of fluids keeps me in bed every day after lunch for my siesta. (This is not all a bad thing; I use the sun for a lot of stuff. It powers my radio, filters my water ( href="http://www.sodis.ch/index_EN">so-dis), dehydrates my fruit, and by the end of the week will be boiling my water for eggs, soup, etc. fair trade.)

Night-time has been even more awing, if you'll believe it. The rain beating down on my tin roof cancels out any noise even plausible. Such a noise goes past the usual soothing effect; it prevents any conscious thought, any chance of sleep...anything at all, really. The only thing that breaks up the monotony of its power is the horror-filled thunder and lightning. Living in a house that was built in Uganda...by Ugandans...is precarious enough. Having said house shaking like a naked girl caught in a snow storm is enough for me to have moved my bed as far away as the walls as possible. Three houses in my village alone have had walls fall already. The roads used to be bad; now they are all single-track mountain bike courses that remind you just how quick erosion can be, when she really puts her mind to it that is.

Today, I finally made it to the shore of Lake Kyoga, the body of water on the southern edge of Ngora. Absolutely gorgeous landscape, with canoe ferries (dug out trees, mostly) to take you across to the other side, to Pallisa. Can not WAIT to get to know those boatmen, in hopes of acquiring one of their crafts for a day on the water. Also hoping to make the lake travel part of a backroads bike travel trip, possibly all the way to Jinja (I'm thinking that would be around 100km?)

I'm starting to understand why these Ugandans don't enjoy, or understand, the idea of camping. Whenever I talk about the urge to go and put up my netted hammock for the night, they just laugh and shake their heads at me. But they live in nature; they experience it daily; more importantly, they are constantly at it's mercy. Volunteering to give Mother Nature more chances than are already present to mess with you? Not likely. Want to see nature, stars, wildlife? How can you not! Just look around, kid.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Uganda in a whole. new. light.

Something unspeakable has happened to me; so terrible that I refused to even admit it's possibility at first. It has taken me 2 weeks, but I'm finally ready to admit the truth of the situation.

Biking around the village, walking around town, traveling hours upon hours upon hours on public transportation...it's all changed dramatically. I have lost a companion, a counterpart...I have lost a integral part of my being since being in Uganda. I have lost my sunglasses.

I step up to my door, every morning, with wide bright eyes, ready to take on the day. Even after 2 weeks of absence, I reach for my sunglasses atop their usual resting place, on my head, behind my neck. Then I search for the handmade croakies around my neck...all in vain. They are gone. All is lost.

Seriously, it's killing me. These glasses were not only the barrier between me and the harsh, cruel world of Uganda, but they were also the polarization lens for my camera. They were the bug stoppers on the night bike rides. It was the item that said "I'm awake, I promise, but continue on with your meeting in a language I can't understand." I wore them more often than underwear, and cleaned them about 20x more. They not only experienced Uganda; they were with me on my way to work in Chapel Hill, they left the hill with me on an amtrak to NYC, and they came back with me while on a bike back home. They experienced Bald Head Island, 4th of July's, and it was through them that I saw no less than 3 "THE DAYS" in Spring at UNC (2nd warm day of UNC, when the girls...well, they looked nice.) They were dropped thousands of times, but hold no grudge.

I know you're suffering much in Uganda, now, my old friend. You are probably being hawked at a price extremely un-befitting of your status, to a person completely unwilling to appreciate you in the way that you should be. Although you have been lost, remember that you are not forgotten. Never will I stop looking for you, and if I do find the culprit and reason for our so sudden divorce, rest assured his punishment will come with great vengeance and, yes, furious anger.