Friday, November 28, 2014
My most recent adventure involved traveling down to Kabale in south-western Uganda (very close to Rwanda) for a burial. Auntie Susie's dad was killed last Sunday in a car accident. Auntie Susie worked at Hope Family for about a year until she left in July to get married. She has a couple cousins who still work at New Hope. Early Monday morning last week, Uncle Richard, one of her relatives, came to talk to my dad, and told us that his uncle had died and he was going to Kabale for the burial. Later that day, plans were made to send a car-load of people down for the burial. I asked if there was room for me to go along. Uncle Stu, the Hope Family manager who was organizing the trip, said I could go.
Since we wanted to go and come back all in one day, we had to get an early start. We got up at 4 am and began the long car ride. First we headed to Kampala, a familiar road, before turning south towards Masaka. I had been a little ways along this road when we went to the equator. We reached Masaka at about 8:30 and as Auntie Sarah said, "You think you should be there but you have only come half-way." Our next stop was Mbarara. After passing through Mbarara, we headed towards Kabale. This stretch of the road was very beautiful, but once again, it was a long way. Finally we got to Kabale town.
But this wasn't the end of our journey. We still had to travel out of the town about 10 km to get to the place where the burial was. We had been told to go to a resort and then Uncle Richard would give us directions. When we got to the resort, Uncle Rogers talked to Uncle Richard on the phone who said he was able to see our vehicle. We looked around expecting to see him, but we didn't see him anywhere. At this point we were on the edge of a lake. "Maybe he's on the other side of the lake." We laughed at the joke. You can probably tell where this is going. We followed his directions and came to a place where the owners of boats ran out to try and persuade us to come in their boats. "No, those ones will take advantage of you," said Uncle Richard over the phone, "get a boat further down." We all looked at one another. A boat!
We all piled out of the car and climbed into a little canoe. I won't tell you whether or not we had life jackets, and I won't tell you whether or not we made sure the motor worked before pushing off from the shore. Thankfully, everything worked out and in about five minutes we had crossed to where Uncle Richard was waiting for us. Then we began the hike up the hill. It was quite a ways and I was very thankful for my Keens when I saw some of my fellow travelers struggling to climb the steep path in dress shoes, flip flops, and high heels.
At the top of the hill, we met Auntie Susie and her sister. After giving them hugs, we continued to the home where the service was to be held. We met Auntie Irene, another former Hope Family staff member. We then went in to see Auntie Susie's mother. The crowded room was hard to get into. After we had seen her, we went back outside and were led to a bench under a tarp. Uncle Stu and I were the only white people in a group of hundreds. Needless to say, we felt like we had signs stuck on us saying, "Please look at me." The service soon began. Although I had never met Auntie Susie's father, I could tell he was a respected man. There were many church leaders there. Many speeches were made. In nearly every one, some reference was made to "the whites." Since they were speaking Rukiga, I had no idea what they were saying but frequently, someone would motion to me to stand up. After an hour and a half, the wind began to blow strongly and the cold rain started to fall. They ended the service so they could finish the burial.
We then went to eat our food. We stood in the line, rain streaming off our jackets, waiting for food. We were given posho, rice, g-nut sauce, meat, and beans. We then stood off to the side, trying not to be too noticeable (impossible). While we ate, everyone around watched, curious to see if the bazungu (white people) ate like them.
After saying our good-byes, we headed down the slippery, muddy path to the boats along with many other people. It was a little embarrassing to see little old jjajjas (grandparents) hurrying down the path with their sticks, while we slowly picked our way down, trying not to slip. Once we got back to our car, we began the long journey home. We got home at around 2 in the morning. I was very tired, but glad that I was able to go.