Life On a Lake

What a relaxing day. It reminded me of life on our lovely Kootenay Lake, except that there are Ugandan crested cranes flying overhead instead of bald eagles and geese. We woke to the sounds of lapping water, the songs of birds and the amazing singing of the woman farming in the next plot over. The sounds of the peaceful surroundings and the Ugandans waking up and getting their day started was just what I needed to make yesterday’s hellish ride worth every pedal and push. I can tell we needed a rest after yesterday because my legs hate me every time I walk up the four sets of stairs that climb to the hostel’s sitting area and out house.

I was overly excited to wash our clothes this morning, knowing they would have ample time to dry over the next couple of days. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I bent my body in half like so many Ugandan women and, listening to the neighbour still singing her heart out, I took the plastic basin and the soap and got to it (while deeply appreciating my washing machine at home). Well, I got schooled in how to do laundry African style. When I have washed our clothes before (as I was doing this time), I put everything in the tub with a little bit of soap and just slosh things around a little bit and squeeze occasionally. The water gets surprisingly dirty which makes me feel like I’ve done a thorough job. Well, Hillary saw me trying to wash one of John’s shirts and he quickly came over and tried to motion how I needed to move my hands in a much stronger and more vigorous way. I gave it a shot, but he must have thought I didn’t understand what he was trying to teach and that he could do a better job. He wasn’t wrong. He took the shirt and proceeded to scrub and twist and wring and splash. He got the dirt outta that dumb shirt that I haven’t been able to get out to this point despite many feeble attempts. If I didn’t know better, I would think he was feeling impatient with me. We have all, no doubt, tried to do a chore that Mom or Dad is trying to teach us and in frustration, they say, “Oh, just give it to me!” as they grab whatever-it-is out of our hands and proceed to do the job as we stand by somewhat dumbfounded and a little embarrassed. I learned yesterday that he is getting married on Saturday and I joked with him that he better not let his wife see how good he is at doing laundry or she’ll make him do it from now on. He laughed pretty hard at that concept because yesterday he was explaining to me the tradition about his new wife going to live with his mother for two months to learn “everything she needs to know about being a good wife.” I believe that the behaviours he listed were how to cook, how to sweep, how to treat and please a man, and how to make crafts. Yes, I guess that would just about cover it.

We spent the day swimming in and enjoying Lake Bunyonyi. Here are a couple of tidbits for you. It’s the only lake that is safe for swimming in the entire country (no hippos, no crocs and no viruses), and has twenty-nine islands, one which is called Punishment Island where they would take women who got pregnant out of wedlock and leave them there to die. This practice only stopped in the 1940’s! We also went over our map to make adjustments and changes because of our timing, laid on the little balcony overlooking the lake, ate ramen noodles and John is now dozing next to me as I text this blog into my phone as we do everyday.

We were talking today about how long the trip has seemed and we tried to remember all of the places we have stayed. I think it all gets convoluted very quickly because of the changes and contrasts we experience daily. There are about forty tribes here in Uganda and approximately fifty-four languages spoken. No wonder every village seems somewhat familiar, but also very different from the one before. The culture and different tribal traditions are deeply important, generationally revered and all so interesting to us. I feel like we will leave here with our heads spinning a bit as we step back into such a vastly different culture. I have gained such a deep respect for the people and seen firsthand how they rise above, again and again, always with a laugh or a smile despite their circumstances. It seems I could learn a thing or two, and I’m not just talking about how to clean my clothes.