"How many vehicles do we need?" "Two, I have a lot of luggage." "You think we just need one vehicle?" "We need two, I have a lot of bags." "Should I get a second vehicle?" "One isn't enough."
We drove 7 hours, of course, in one vehicle.
This is what it is, where I start to see how much command/control we infuse NA life with even when we don't think we are. We say "I'm in a hurry" and we expect the person behind the desk to interpret that as "stop folding that receipt so meticulously and just hand it over." But here, "I'm in a hurry" is a statement about you, separate from the person you're talking to, not a request for some kind of coordination.
Muzungo learn to slow down or to get very frustrated very quickly.
The ride yesterday was long, dusty, bumpy, Carissa, Yarina and I crammed in the back seat of the tiny suzuki jeep. SLOW HUMPS every 500 metres for about an hour. The perfect other-worldly transition from Kampala city, where we spent far too much time driving around trying to make arrangements with Egypt Air about C&Y's lost luggage, registering at the consulate, visiting my travel agent, buying peanut butter -- requesting "multitasking" that was laughable when Gabriel failed to notice that Carissa was still at the airline and drove away without her. "IF you don't hear me talking, I'm not in the car!" she said.
The journey took us to darkness, part of the time four of us muzungo passed out from gravol while Gabriel drove us around, but awake enough to see the tea plantations (beautiful, and they pay their workers "very badly" according to Gabriel), the dusty villages, a man on a boda boda carrying six living room chairs. Awake enough for me to hang my head out the window like a dog, dust in eyes and reflecting that what felt like it fit last year, social worlds that are what they could be, read as pure poverty now. A little boy running by the side of the road in a shabby, ripped, filthy tshirt that probably was once on the back of a north american grown man.
Realizing that what's to be "feared" about africa isn't the people, but the frailty of the infrastructure. When gabriel skidded over one of the road humps ("it ambushed me") and only managed to right the jeep, realizing that in a road accident, no one would know what to do. This is a country where the concept of paramedics is laughable -- where we passed through the metal detectors at the consulate and we all beeped, but no one tried to figure out why, or looked in the bags we passed around the machine. But three of them were doing their jobs.
Green mountains, dust, and an amazing moment of connection with a family -- two women, 7 or 8 children -- when we got lost walking to the project this morning. Four well fed muzungo, 2 the blondest blondes you might imagine, walking up and saying "I'm lost." No english, and they couldn't tell us where the CARE office was (next door to our project), but laughing uproariously with us as we shared the shelter of their porch, watched a little girl scamper through the mud to place a plastic bucket to catch the rain.
No more time, and so much to say about the kids. "I didn't really think you'd come back, Auntie," whispered abdu. I cried seeing them yesterday as I didn't when I left last year. They're inside me, and I had almost forgotten.