Kitende / Uganda · 2017   one room house

  

______

   Passing up on the Gorillas at $750 was just as easy as passing up on them at $1,500 In Rwanda. My wallet was nowhere near that thickness. I couldn’t or wouldn’t even afford a bed. All my Ugandan nights were tent nights, most of them so starry, it’d make your head spin. Swimming in Lake Victoria wasn’t recommended. Some snail parasite. Locals did it. I met up with Niko. One time we asked one of the boda boda drivers if we could rent his bike. No problem. Fun day. Ugandan landscapes were deep, the humanscapes deeper. I dipped a few toes into these waters, not more.

______

a glimpse

Boy in front of Lake Victoria, Uganda

glimpse: UNSEEN, UNHEARD | What if you were unseen, unheard? Where would you look for solace, whom would you call upon?

glimpse: MONSTER IN THE WEST | Daggers for teeth, we eat their jungles, feast on ill-gotten shiny minerals we can’t digest, starve them with our greed. We harness their kids to propel a petty consumption that consumes the planet, scorching the straws they clutch at, flooding the hopes they sow. And when their land is raped and their life scarred, once their only survival is being repotted without roots, we shut our eyes and hearts and doors. We are the monster in the west.

impoverished single mom in Uganda with her child
Brick made from mud in Uganda

 
glimpse: BRICK LORD |
A summer's work
Mud burned into brick
Soil fruit in his hand
Blocks growing from the ground, layer by layer
His blood in them, his scrapes their scrapes
All colors earthy in this dirt rainbow
A son's son and a father's father
Glass bead cataract eyes with a vision
Youth in his age, warmth in his strength
Always helper
A giver this builder
Building more than just a building
Giving more than just hope
Giving love 
To those children in his care
Packed like sardines in the old dorm
School principal, custodian angel
The first step always the right step
A long time coming, a long ways away
Brick kingdom lying dormant underneath the drapes
Large shirt, but he larger, larger than life
Few know his name
Mud hero




 

DSC_6832.jpg
DSC_7045.jpg


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   workplace wonder


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   skinny chairs

 

 

 

 

 

__________

places / stories

_____
Lake Bunyonyi / Overland Terror & Ghost Nonprofits

DSC_6809.jpg


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   underwater land



 

The lake was a complicated body of water, riddled with nooks and crannies eating into the shore, and myriad islets scattered all over it like gemstones. I pitched my tent in the lushest corner of some hotel’s lakeside garden, where an overland invasion was currently taking place. Overlanders always feel and behave like some sort of tourism warriors, as though they own the place – the place being Earth. Some particularly arrogant specimens were descending onto two staff with a scolding anger-fit about some outlet that didn’t work. “Who do you think you are to talk to them like that,” I jumped in to the rescue that wasn’t needed. The staff had already shrugged it off and chalked it up as Westerners, but I was set off like an indignant baby bomb and exploded all over these overlanders with more anger than solidarity. “What?” He looked at me like he’d never heard someone say something to him before. I repeated it like a dictation: “Who-do-you-think-you-are?” I don’t remember the rest of that conversation, only the shy giggle-smiles on the staff’s faces. The whole thing was quite funny to them, and I think they’d already put me on the same white-weirdo list as the others, because my part in this was just as absurd to them. Fair enough. I left that place before long. They weren’t interested in the photos I’d taken to trade for my bill.



 

Lakeside hotel at Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   lakeside luxury



 

I moved to another hotel right by the lake, where I was the only guest for the most part, and where I moved into the garden too. This time, I settled the photos-for-nights-deal up front, and even though there was some disagreement about the exchange rate, when I left after some ten days, the staff and I had a good time home alone together.



 

DSC_6706.jpg
DSC_6624.jpg


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   in charge with a smile



 


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   putting on a show for local tourists



 

DSC_6723.jpg
DSC_6805.jpg


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   a campsite not too shabby



 


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   tent pet



 

Every time I’d go for a walk along the lake, a different young guy would approach me with a different young ghost-nonprofit – orphanage, women quarry, etc. – which could all use money, but would dissolve into thin air a few questions later. Cannot be visited. Cannot produces any documentation or evidence. I only ever passed up on the donation, never the conversation. Nice guys.



 

Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   lovable lake



 

Young man at Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda


Lake Bunyonyi / Uganda · 2017   friends for one walk



 

_____
Lake Victoria / Beer, Rolex, Stars

Starry night at Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   galactic ceiling



 

Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   Niko and his stars



 

I arrived after dark and tried to find my way down to the lake. A convoy of women and kids headed that way took me in. They said it wasn’t safe for me, which added as much to any remote sense of security as it subtracted. Down by the lake someone pointed me to Niko’s tent and we had delicious beers and more delicious rolexes and the most delicious stars. He’d cycled his lazy butt all the way from Rwanda, while I had bussed my even lazier butt. We had much a few laughs to catch up on.



 

Kids at Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   men in the making



 

Ferry on Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   rain calling



 

Rope on a ferry on Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria / Uganda · 2017   from rope to twine



 

_____
Kitende / Survival Artists


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   home is this



 

I didn’t have time to volunteer in Uganda, but that’s a lie. I didn’t make the time because I wanted to go to Ethiopia before leaving the continent. I did visit a nonprofit in Kitende though that came recommended by someone I’d met in Kigali. Chigali and Chitende, they would pronounce it in Uganda.

Being a single mom is not easy. Neither is being raised by a single mom. Evalyn knows that because she was that child. With her Kampala-based nonprofit she helps others who go through the same to make their experience a little softer.

All the single moms we visited lived with at least three kids in 9 square meter houses without kitchens or bathrooms. As anywhere else where poverty rules, there were plenty of smiles. They made do these survival artists.




 

DSC_7403.jpg


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   Christ as a roommate



 

DSC_7415.jpg


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   solar kitchen



 

DSC_7442.jpg


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   indoor fire



 

We also visited a boarding school, where a hundred kids lived in a single bedroom with 10 beds – head-to-head, toe-to-toe, head-to-toe, like Tetris blocks. “They don’t know anything else,” Evalyn said with compassionate warmth. It was the summer break, but some students were studying hard in one of the classrooms.



 

DSC_7209.jpg
DSC_7338.jpg


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   principals



 


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   ambitious summer break



 

DSC_7258.jpg
DSC_7237.jpg


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   brick shower 



 


Kitende / Uganda · 2017   think sink



 

_____
Entebbe / Tent in Ruins


Entebbe / Uganda · 2017   carving silhouettes



 

I’ve never slept in a Ugandan bed. From Lake Bunyonyi to Lake Victoria to Entebbe, there’s always been a friendly and juicy patch of grass for me to pitch my little fabric house. Shaped like a casket and loyal like one, my tent had been my go-to home throughout large parts of Africa, much more so than in Asia or Latin America. Sure, it had started to leak at some point and I could never figure out the where and how, but retiring it never crossed my mind, not even when sandwiched between puddles on either side of my sleeping pad. Until that one day a little boy happened. It was the grandson of the hostel owner in whose sunny and rainy garden I’d set up camp. When I came back that day, the damage was done. My then was in ruins. Somebody had seen the boy leaning on it, and the fiberglass poles had snapped like twigs. It took one little boy to demolish what the winds of the world couldn’t touch. His young grandfather was digging a hole in the garden when I approached him to get his take on the matter. He got defensive and loud to the point where I thought he would just put me in the hole, that perhaps he had shoveled it for that purpose, but when he realized that I simply wanted a solution, not gold, he lightened up enough to talk business. He took me to his blacksmith where we spend some two hours while the guy made replacement poles for me. From iron. They were rigid as iron and heavy as iron. My fiberglass poles had been light as blades of grass; now I was carrying an iron-clad, medieval torture device that weighed a few stones. The leak was worse now. But at least it was in line, fashion-wise, with the potato bag that had replaced my tent’s original bag in the Philippines.



 

DSC_7158.jpg


Entebbe / Uganda · 2017   a road

 

_____

related

photos | people

Not Pity-Poor: Grace of the Life Lottery's Runner Ups

fortitude and perseverance forged in a hard place

The people you see here are poor, but not pity-poor. They have less – much less – but they have lives and smiles like anyone else. They don’t need an outsider’s soft pat on the back to uplift them... see more

reads | travel

Volunteering Motives - Who Helps Whom and Why

Can volunteering abroad truly be selfless and whom does it actually help?

...we can all just go on a quest for our own motives to do something social (might that be altruistic or not) and do our best to actually contribute to the empowerment of local communities and the alteration of disadvantageous global structures... read more

photos | landscapes

Africa

man’s first encounter with nature

Considering that Africa is our cradle, this journey leads through the first landscapes humans ever laid eyes on. see more

photos | urban

Africa

not one narrative, but all of them

A patchwork of colorful culture, systemic poverty, crass luxuries, and every middle in-between, urban Africa is not one narrative, but all of them. see more

 

_______

elsewhere

__

in Africa