Saturday was a “free day”. Kurtis – thinking outside of the box of activities previously done by visiting teams – planned a day of seeing the area surrounding Buikwe – on “boda bodas” (small motor bikes). What a sight we must have been, a convoy of eight boda bodas, all with “Muzungu” riders. One of the men I met after church on Sunday said he’d seen us riding through the village – his disbelief of “maybe even 7 boda bodas with Muzungu riders.” I laughed with him – saying it was actually 8! The countryside was beautiful, and we were so much closer to everything on the back of these bikes. Rolling hills, lush green vegetation, healthy crops, beautiful massive trees. My driver, Henry, is an IN Uganda staff member. He is responsible for teams who come to Buikwe. He was playfully competitive. Once he saw I was comfortable on the bike, he would say over his shoulder “are you ready,” and with my affirmation, we would accelerate, passing everyone and leaving them far behind us.
We went to Lugazi to a tailor. All the team women were interested in having an African dress made. We chose colorful fabrics and then looked over a series of pictures to choose our dress style. Henry was very involved, giving many suggestions as to the most fashionable of the dress styles. The seamstress did not have patterns. She simply took measurements and went from there. They will be ready on Tuesday, so we will wear them to church next Sunday.
We rode on to Kiyindi. So much beautiful country side. We were visitors for lunch at three households who had children sponsored to attend school at the IN school. I could see that many preparations were made for us. In front of each home, all the leaves had been swept clean. The women were in good dresses. It was clear to me that they took receiving their guests with a great sense of wanting to welcome us and extend to us their best. Mike, Nicole, and I had lunch prepared by a woman who was auntie to a little girl who was orphaned. She was sponsored by IN. The woman spoke no English and was very quiet with us. She served us a very big meal in her kitchen, but would not join us. When I asked Henry our IN guide if the family would join us, he said they would not. We were served two fish dishes, one made with ground nuts; rice, greens, matoke (a plantain dish), and cassava (a very fibrous root vegetable). From Henry’s perspective – we had a very African meal! And it was very delicious based on this appetite! It was a little foreign for the rest of us. We ate some of everything, being conscious that it would be good to leave food for the family to eat. Henry said she would have prepared at least 4 hours to cook this meal for us. It was profoundly uncomfortable. I felt like I was given this honor when it was completely undeserved. Even if I sponsored many of the children in this village, it would have been too much. I would have rather learned to cook something beside her, sharing her kitchen. Or sitting and having a visit, instead of receiving a meal she could never provide for her own family. We left a significant gift, and yet it seemed not quite right to me.
The day went on to include a ferry ride across to a small island on Lake Victoria. Mike pulled out a bunch of pictures that reflect some of our Canadian landscape. The locals crossing with us were very engaged, asking questions about the mountains, and glaciers, and snowfall in the pictures. They were very interested in the photos of our family, asking who each one was and their ages. Interesting to me, that they looked at these photos the longest. A culture very interested in family, although I didn’t rule out, the fascination they may well have had over all the red hair.
Enough for today. Kurtis just asked me what chapter I’m on. I get the message! More tomorrow from another one of us.