Last week was rural homestays, which means that all of the Uganda Studies Program studies (all of the white people) went and stayed either in the plains or in the mountains of central Uganda. The IMME program (which is the one I am part of) went to the beautiful mountains of Kapchorwa (it is close to the Kenyan border). I was paired with another IMME student and we stayed with an incredible family on the side of the mountain. It was one of the most incredibly beautiful places I have ever seen and probably will ever see. When we first arrived it was already getting dark outside, we were shown around, but the scenery was completely lost on us. We met our wonderful parents, Freddie and Anne, and their children: Imma, Richard, Caleb, Elijah, and Abbey. They were very welcoming and such beautiful people. Our first morning we woke up early because we had to go to the toilet ridiculously bad, we walked out there and realized that the hole we had to squat over was approximately HALF of the size that Holly, my roommate, and I had grown accustomed. In Mukono I am very proud if I don’t pee outside the hole, here I am proud if I pee inside the hole, it is pretty comical, it is a shuffle of the feet trying to pee in something so small…oh man. We then explored our front and back yard which was crazy gorgeous; we went around picking flowers to press, their flowers and blooms on trees are amazing. Our breakfast consisted of two slices of bread, two eggs, half a piece of corn, and a banana, and then two cups of milk tea. It was delicious and extremely filling. We then went o pick coffee. They grow on what looks like a fruit tree and the coffee looks like cranberries hanging from the tree. It was exciting times, for how much America ns consume coffee it is incredible that we have no idea what is truly looks like. We went home and took bathes which was pretty much a joke, it was more like a sponge bath. The bathhouse had huge gaps in the side, which I later learned to cover up with my massive towel, but at this point it was just like scrub here, scrub there, done! We ate lunch and then went to a wedding! It was my first since being here. It was a long service and we got there late, yet somehow we were right on time. I have no idea how that worked out. African and their time… the walk to the church was magnificent and incredible and unbelievable. It looked surreal and yet pictures cannot do it justice which is sad but I still attempted. The wedding was very sweet though long. I felt like the marriage counseling was mixed in with the service, in was funny, the minister was giving many lessons to the new couple, who were beautiful. There was much dancing by this certain group and about three songs that lasted about thirty minutes each. After the service we had a delicious soda and Holly and I split a plate of food even though they kept telling us we could each have our own plate, we just kept repeating “this is plenty thank you!!” we headed home after the rain stopped, it had started during the reception time, and trudged home through the ridiculous mud that we had to try and repeatedly wipe off of our shoes. It was funny and definitely an adventure. Oh on the way there I saw flowers that reminded me of home and while gazing intently at the flowers I wiped out on loose dirt. I have two small holes in the skirt now and it scraped up my knee pretty badly, I had to try and hold the skirt off my knee because it was bleeding through and the skirt kept sticking to my knee. Good time. When we got home we had the chance to relax with our family which was wonderful.
One of the best parts of the week was just being to able to help out in different ways and to be productive in ways other than school. Throughout the week we got to shuck maize, a lot of maize, help with the meals, wash dishes help with the coffee and other things. They weren’t major things but it was exciting to actually learn how they do these various projects. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I learned how to make a complete African dinner which I am excited to do when I get home. It was fantastic and I could have stayed there until December, though I would have missed my Mukono family.
After church on Sunday our brothers took us on a small hike to caves near their house. The hike was humorous and challenging because we were both in skirts haha. We probably flashed our poor brothers a couple of times, but the hike there was incredibly beautiful. We got there and the cave was amazing. It started to rain right after we arrived; the landscape was magnificent looking out from the cave with the sheet of rain covering all of it and flowing off of the edge of the cave. We stayed until the rain stopped and then hiked back which was also fun; it was like rock climbing in a skirt, funny was not something I recommend. I felt I was in the movie Ever After the whole week. Everything was simply beautiful and in the mornings the mountain fog would cover everything in a beautiful haze.
I must now contribute a little writing to our girl who works for our family. She is beautiful, graceful, extremely capable and a beast. She is wonderful in so many way words cannot describe how amazing she is. When preparing meals she would sit in front of the fire moving boiling pots and the hot embers with her HANDS (the same with our mama) it was crazy and insane. She once picked up a boiling pot of water and carefully poured the whole pot into a thermal flask for tea. Crazy!! The woman there were extremely hard working and made of steel.
So one evening our mama comes into the kitchen with a live chicken, immediately I start thinking “oh boy I don’t like where this is going!”
Mama: “have you ever killed a chicken?
Me: Um no actually I haven’t
Mama: You want to kill
Me: NOOOOOOOOOOOO (while making a gruesome face and covering my eyes as if it was already happening before me.)
Holly: Come on Rachel Lets go watch
Me: What?! I don’t think so, I’m good
Holly: Come on
Me: Oh um oh fine
We go into our backyard and our mama has the chicken pinned down on the ground plucking the feathers from around the neck. The she cuts the neck in half and lets all the blood drain out onto the ground and waits for the chicken to stop struggling. She then cuts the neck off the rest of the way. We go back into the kitchen and she dips it in hot water and then plucks the rest of the feather out. At this point I am thinking the process is over and then she starts cutting it up and pointing out all of the insides. I am just like “oh wow look at that, eesh.” The poor little guy was delicious though.
We also went to a market during the middle of the week which was great even though it rained and we had to duck for cover a few times. I wiped out again but this time it was down a muddy slope in front of a lot of people at the mill grindery. My skirt went up in the back and so did all of the mud. The owner showed me out back where he had a hose so I could clean myself off. Oh man what good times. He was very nice and so I proceeded to hose myself off, hiking up my skirt to get as much mud as possible not really caring who was watching me. When we finally got home that night after walking in the rain for about an hour carrying a five pound bag of corn flour I had to take another bathe to get the rest of the mud where the hose couldn’t exactly go if you get my point. It is such an amazing day and quite the experience, haha especially because it was dark when we finally got back home and Holly had to hold the flashlight over the bathhouse so that I could see while I bathed.
Leaving was a little depressing because it was such an amazing place with beauty and beautiful people. But after leaving our homestays we went to Sipi Falls which is three waterfalls on the mountain. We stayed at Crows Nest that overlooked all of the waterfalls. It was phenomenal. We were there all day on Saturday and we were given three hiking options: short hike, flexible hike, and epic hike. I definitely did the epic hike and I loved all of it. All of it that is except the last thirty minutes, of a six hour hike, that was straight uphill. I just kept thinking “Rachel, you are not in shape, what the heck were you thinking when you decided to take an epic with athletes!!” But other than that it was all amazingly beautiful and I would go back immediately if given the chance!!!