This year's trip to the falls was probably my favourite one yet. Nature was not very friendly to us; it rained the entire first night we were there, providing oodles of mud to make the hiking trail more than a bit slippery the next morning. Within the first five minutes, three kids were on their bottoms. One fell more times than she took steps forwards during the first bit of the hike. My neck and back muscles tensed as I waited for the first tears and cries begging to return to the lodge. But they never happened. They may not look like it on the outside, but these kids are tough. They quickly learned to laugh at themselves, get up and move on. (They couldn't dust themselves off because dust was not available; they were covered in mud, and it would only smear and make their hands dirty.) I did open my mouth and gape a bit with astonishment, and I also swelled a bit with pride.
After a while (and with the help of three additional porters to hold some children's hands to keep them from falling too much), we were pros. So much so that when we encountered a group of young hikers coming up the slippery, muddy path we were heading down and noticed that they were 'dressed to impress' and wearing sandals and flip flops, bewildered by the poor choice of footwear of the 'novice' hikers, my kids had a good laugh, and their teacher, perhaps inappropriately, encouraged it and joined in. But seriously, flip flops. On a hike? In the mud.
Even with the weather, this trip went off like clockwork with no crises to deal with: no breakdowns from the kids, no electronics (which were not allowed on the trip to begin with) going missing, no tantrums over the food, no one thinking everyone else was against him. It was three days of enjoying each other's company and enjoying nature. On the last day, packing up, setting off and getting home to Kampala was a breeze. And we breezed back into town about an hour and a half earlier than anticipated.
Arriving early gave Betty and I a chance to dropped our baggage off and set off to town to witness the five o'clock protest. As I posted before, the walk to work campaign now includes making noise at 5:00pm each day of the week. Working in my cocoon in Bugolobi, I never really know what is going on in town. Betty was in town on Tuesday and told me that what she saw/heard was unexpected and pretty amazing: horns hooting, people banging on doors and gates, jerry cans being beaten, screaming, hand clapping. And after the protesters made their statement, they went back to business as normal. I had to see/hear it for myself.
Going downtown with Betty was like a trip down memory lane. First, we rode tandem on a boda boda. When's the last time I did that? Walking down past Radio One towards Nakasero Market and then proceeding towards the Old Taxi Park, I'd not done this on a busy weekday afternoon since my days as a Peace Corps Volunteer. When five o'clock finally arrived, this is what happened:
And it went on for several more minutes than what you see here. Now, if you notice in the video, business is still able to carry on; there's no major disturbance; it is a non-violent demonstration.
As the noise subsided, Betty and I made out way back up to Kampala Road, stopping first at the Chinese supermarket and buying the last package of nori (more should be here sometime in July). We took a taxi back to Bugolobi (again, something I've not done in a long time, and the time it took plus the recklessness of the driver reminded me why I gave up on matatus a long time ago). After a pop-in at Afred's, I was off to meet up with Lynne, Kevin and Brandon, all three of whom I served with in Peace Corps.
Friday was a peaceful day on so many levels.