Saturday, April 13, 2013

Full circle

Power is out, and my candles are about to be. I've done my last load of dishes and laundry, which was honestly just a handkerchief that I'd used to make cheese; the rest will be done in Kampala by hotel staff. I spent the day today sorting through my last few items and packing my little grey backpack with what I've deemed necessary for the next two and half weeks. I've included two pairs of pants, a pair of leggings, four tank tops, a tee shirt, a dress, undies, flip flops, running shoes, my planner, pertinent paperwork, shampoo & conditioner, face & body wash, face & body lotion, travel perfume, makeup, toothbrush & paste, my mini med kit that I always travel with (ibuprofen, Benadryl, melatonin, pepto, Imodium, bandaids, malaria meds, and sudafed) steripen, headlamp, travel towel, sarong, iPad, iPod, kindle, journal, stuffed elephant, rain jacket, and cameras. It seems like so much when I write it out like that...

Anyway, the last week at my site has been nothing short of delightful. Never having visited Murchison Falls national park, we took a last minute, seat of our pants, impromptu trip there on Monday. It was incredible. We did very little planning and thus ended up paying way more than we should have, and taking a route that was absolutely absurd. On the drive through the park tsetse flies swarmed our car as we almost ran out of gas, so annoying. We just missed the two o'clock ferry and had to sit for two hours waiting for the four o'clock boat, but we saw a hippo so it was totally fine. We spent the evening eating our fill of the buffet and drinking boxed wine on the balcony overlooking the Nile. The next morning we drove to the top of the falls and then hiked around for a couple of hours. It was so so hot but so worth it. That was really the last place in Uganda that I'd really wanted to see. Over the past two years I've been able to visit an incredible number of places and see the majority of the country.

Driving out of the park that afternoon we were somewhat late according to our pass. The pass we paid for was good for 24 hours, and we'd stayed 27. We had a little kerfuffle at the exit gate where the park warden was skirting around the idea of a bribe. I offered 20,000/- (about $8) which wasn't enough for him, so I pulled out a wad of ones and twos, conjured up a few tears and told him that was all I had (lie). He eventually let us go for free, I'm sure because of the waterworks. Success. Driving out of the park was beautiful; I absolutely love the landscape here, after the people in the north it's my favorite thing. A huge bull elephant blocked the road for a bit and I finally saw giraffes in the wild. Still no lions, but I have a lot of my life ahead of me.

The day after we returned I had a goodbye ceremony at the college. I was hoping that it wouldn't be overboard with the formality and pomp and circumstance, as some events can tend to be here. It wasn't, it was perfect. Of course it started late, but only by about a half hour. The first year students preformed some songs (which I'd tried to record but my camera battery died in the middle of it) the bishop came and made a speech about how everyone should be encouraged by my volunteerism and do things for the community without expecting to be paid for it. He studied in America and told them how much comfort I'd given up to come here. Some of the other tutors gave speeches about how I encouraged timeliness and professionalism, and how I taught one of them to be kind to animals. I gave a short speech thanking them for making this my home for the last two years, I thanked the reverend and another tutor for always teasing me and talking to me about the cultural differences, and I thanked the women from our baking club for cooking with me and sharing that aspect of our cultures. We ate dinner at the school afterwards and they made.... FRIES. And chapatti, and spaghetti, and tons of veggies, and chicken. It was delicious.

Since then I've just been hosting a couple of other PCVs, making friendship bracelets, and playing with baby goats. I leave tomorrow morning. I remember my first night here like it was a month ago, it really doesn't seem like this has been two whole years. It's scary how quickly life moves.

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