It took us 12 hours to arrive to Andrew’s village. It is a small remote village on the eastern part of Uganda with large boulder rock foundations protruding from the flat green planes. The weather is slightly warmer than the rest of the country and during the dry season, water becomes scarce and a serious issue. The houses are circular clay huts with grass roofs. They are built in sets of 5 to 10, small little ‘compounds’ where families co-exist. Now, it is rainy season and the large boulders that have large holes carved into them turn into lush pools where naked children come to wash their clothes and bathe. Giggles of laughter sprout throughout the sky and it is only when you look up onto the rocks and see the children’s silhouettes, that you know where the laughter is coming from.
The village is not used to seeing this many white people. It is three of us here. They are used to Andrew’s presence, but Connor and I have added additional excitement to the mix. In addition to that, I am one of a handful of Non-African girls that have been to this region. Today I spent the morning visiting Berry Estoot’s project. The first official site visit I did and I’m hoping all site visits will be just as inspiring. I have videos and images that will follow when I have enough Internet bandwidth to provide them to you.
On my route home from visiting Berry Estoot’s project a group of children began to follow me. When I turned around, they ran away screaming and laughing. After 15 minutes of this, to be funny, I chased them and made a ‘roar’ sound. The kids ran and I saw genuine fear going through their face. They were literally afraid of my existence. I had never been such a foreigner.
I got to their level on one knee, and said hello in their tribal language and extended my hand. One by one, they came to greet me. Some grabbed my hand others barely touched it and a few shook my hand and starred at my light skin. The eldest wiped her hand on mine, she looked at the hairs on my arms with a peculiar face. Her skin was smooth and like the rest of the people in her village, she did not have any arm hairs. I wanted to tell her that when I was her age, I attempted to shave all my hairs off my body, including my eyebrows.
She looked at my hair and squinted. Her hair was shaved like most women in this region. I ran my hand over my head and her upper lip curled a bit, almost disgusted. My hair was definitely matted; the curls were caked with red dust from riding a motorcycle all day, but not enough to gross somebody out (I thought to myself). I put my handkerchief back on my head and kept walking until I reached a group of women that sat on top of a trunk. They handed me a mango. I sat on the ground and indulged. This was not new to me at all… eating mangos on the floor, underneath a mango tree was something I knew well from growing up in Costa Rica. The kids gathered around, sat down, poked at my camera for a bit and eventually began to ignore me. Soon enough we all became focused on peeling our mangos with our teeth and enjoying the afternoon breeze. This is the closest we might ever be to understanding each other, I thought to myself.