Thursday, July 01, 2010

Small Talk

Hippo Talk
She sailed away on a happy summer day on the back of a crocodile... Okay really old song that ends up with the lady inside the croc and I was not that unfortunate, but I was on a boat floating dow the Nile, the White Nile mind you. It was rediculously hot and since all the spots on the lower deck were taken I sat in the front on the floor. Quite comfortable actually since by nature I am a floor dweller. I also had a great view and coud stand or sit without anyone in my way. Saw plenty of elephants and hippoes to end at the Murchison Falls. Gotto love water! On the way I fell asleep, soon to be fully engaged in my Larium (anti malaria drugs) dreams. I was exploring some dark corner of my mind when nearing the falls a wave of water came onto the boat. Though up and standing within seconds it took some time befor the mist of dreams wore off gradually I found myself in the middle of a group of people looking to see if I was functional. It was a long boat trip and on the way back I had a very interesting converstation with Tom, a friend I made on the trip, an interestign character with an interesting reason to visit Uganda in the first place. Man do I love people... funny too how I keep running into Germans everywhere ;)

Gulu and the Lord Resistance Army...
So after my wildlife trip I decided to leave the group and continue to Gulu. ad them drop me off a little (half hour drive) past Masindi, where two big roads intersect and all thebig busses come by. I sat under a wooden contraption wtaching people fry potato and goats meat to sell to anyone who slowed down around the area. The bug bus I wanted though took it's time and I started wonderign what I would do if it didnlt show. I contemplated sleeping there which the little boy I was talking to, who spoke english reasonably well and who had just questioned me about Buddha and Jesus and weather Iw as Christian or not asked: Are you now afraid of night dancers -ancestor spirits that come at night to take your life-.
After arriving in Gulu and talking half an hour to the first person I met Marijt (a Dutch girl doing research and whom I decided to meet with for dinner after finding a place to stay) I found a local hostel to stay where I ran into a bunch of students from Kampala University who were there to do fieldwork, urban planning. LOL if you see Gulu the word Urban is funny.. you can walk everywhere there or take a boda-boda (motor taxi) and the few buildings that are taller than one story are a couple of hotels. My room had a muskitonet! with two holes which i fixed with the sewing kit I brought, the toilet and shower were shared (as in I had a basin for washing and slippers under my bed and the toilet didn't lock so well and required squatting skills.
I went to a couple of NGO's and aksed, even though it was rather short notice, whether there was a possibility to join in on one of their fieldtrips. I then proceeded to join the Norwegian refugee council for two days, visiting projects (schools) they were running and getting a tour from Invisible children. I spent one day just running around the town and in between had a lot of fun chiling with Marijt whom I also killed a bottle of white wine with on my last night and discussing life as a side treat.

Picker Upper of Strays
So, this is me, and my new hairdue: it only took 5 hours and three people. The cat I picked up off the street. Most people in Uganda are a little scared of cats and looked at me oddly when I sat down to pet it (not that tey usually do not stare but now they REALY stared!. Some of the ladies that knew me by now told me I should take it. I replied that that was not a good idea as I was leaving soon and that maybe it had an owner??? They said it didn't... and with pain in my heart I continued thinking there was no point in Bringing Mama Lydia another cat. I did mention the episode though.
She knew some people that wanted one. Me all excited: "So I should go pick it up?" Sure she said so there I went; picker upper of strays. I would have taken her home in a heartbeat scruffy little thing that would climb on me and sit on my shoulder or lap everytime it could. I hope it finds a nice home.

Coffee Ceremony
Your visit to Ethiopia could not be without it. Beletech took us into her home like family.. for those of you who don't know, she and Hanna (her daughter) worked for us about 20 years ago when we lived in Addis Abeba. A few years down the line she came to the Nethelrands as an au-pair and now, married with a Dutch man, is settled in the Netherlands and supports her mother and two sisters in Ethiopia.Beletech doesn't look too different to me and her English is ever improving. Meat broke broke (minced meat) and ofoi ofoi being her favourite words. I must say I also vigorously celebrated non-vegetarianism in Ethiopia with all the delicious meats that go with Injerra namely Kitfo and Doro Wot with plenty of Berbere... oh glorious food!

Rock Churches
It is stange to have a picture on my camera similar to those that have always enticed me on posters of Ethiopia, 13 months of sunshine. Now, having wandered around for a day and been in and out of them and seen al the diferent sights they offer I dare say I would go back. Just to sit and paint or even simply gaze at the lightfall into the carved out doors and the layers of white ethiopian cloth the priest wear, even the pilgrims inspire me to stare in awe. The magnifiscence of the churches make you understand why locally some believe angles came down to assist in their building.

Market Day
Ethiopians definitely of nomadic decent travel large distances by foot. Not just to fetch water but to sell produce at the market. Some start very early in the morning, often loading themselves as much as their donkeys. We were lucky enough to travel past the market on our way to the Blue Nile Falls which looked more red to me than anyhting else, nevertheless we got to endulge in the sight of hundreds of people migrating their wear acros the area. Then, large masses of water never cease to amaze me, only the road (which the driver referred to as the cause of a free African massage) could have done with a little improvement. The little bus rattled so hard that even talking was too much effort. So I simply sat and observed in silence.

Awasa and the South
On the last part of our trip we went down South to the rift Valley lakes where there are plenty of birds and amazing changes in the landscape. Hanna's two sisters, Zeleka and Zewedenesh came with us lifting some of the language barriers and increasing the fun. We had a little boat trip to explore Awasa and stopped by Lake Langano (we used to go there when I was 8 but now they had gone bankrupt so the place had been shut down. For a small fee they let us in though and like many other places in Ethiopia I found that my memories were mostly contained in smells. The water was still red and brought back strange memories of canoeing with a friend, a little too far on a little too stormy a day. The grass was thorny and the air has this strange quality hard to describe to someone who was never there, warm, dry, semi sweet but definitely familiar. The trees, typically african in their reach for the clouds but seemingly limited by an invisible ceiling, make me smile and live in the moment. Then, one last night of Ethiopian hospitality and tastes and an early morning ride ot the airport landing in what they call civilisation: I think I mostly appreciate our washing machine, and the fact that I can drink the tap-water and that it tastes good... but the thought of living in one of those thatched huts and lving on posho beans and avo for a year or two is still quite appealing...

For now though I'll be a good girl: have just comitted to a two year phone contract and am looking for jobs... Man I sound like a normal person. Can someone please talk some sense into my head or simply come and rescue me?!

Music: Omukwano
Quote: "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." Isaac Newton