06 November 2013

two safari tuesday

After our time in Kakooge, we headed to Murchison Falls for our play day, AKA two safari Tuesday. 

While it was happening, I felt really guilty. It felt so indulgent to spend time on a safari when my heart throbbed with pain and my hands ached to get dirty. 

In retrospect, though, I know we needed the break. Had I known what was coming in the following days while I was actually on the safaris, I never would have doubted the need to take a moment to regroup, process and recover. The rest of the week would be emotionally exhausting. And, also, to go to Africa and not hang with giraffes really feels like a missed opportunity.

So with that, I give you two safari Tuesday. In all honesty, the pictures say a lot more than my words do, but I figured I would still share what I was thinking...

Today we drove to Murchison Falls. As we drove through rural Uganda, I kept thinking: wow, this is so authentic, it really looks like Africa. And then I'd remember it is authentic. This is really where the Lion King took place.

Today our group got to know one another so much better. I pivoted on the bus the entire time - one minute looking forward to talk to Kenna, the next minute turning around to talk to Vicky, Brittany, Teri... 

I can't believe I only met them 72 hours ago. We've already seen and experienced things together that no one else in my life has seen. One day I will look back on this and try to explain it to other people, but as much as I can offer with my words and photos, only those who are really on this bus will fully understand it. 

I love getting to know people so much. I love hearing their stories. I love seeing the way we've all cried in front of one other - largely still strangers - but unable to help the way different things have struck us, melting our hearts and breaking down our barriers. I love seeing raw, honest and unstoppable vulnerability.

The landscape here is nuts - there is so much variety. Palm trees and evergreens and cacti all hang out together. Orange trees grow next to fields of wheat. Huts are made of mud and hay and clay. 

As we drove further away from civilization and closer to our destination, more and more animals emerged. We're not on the safari yet, but it seems the animals are ready for us. Chimps come out from hiding to greet us. Baboons dance in the trees, staring us down, daring us to come closer before darting away.

We reached the Nile and I was shocked - somehow expecting to be able to notice that it flows the opposite direction. 

We had to drive our bus onto a barge to cross the river - not quite like our Bald Head Island ferry.

The next day we awakened bright and early, gearing up for our sunrise safari.

Uganda is enchanting in daylight, but there is something magical about seeing it wake up. Early mornings are sacred to me - I love nothing more than seeing the world before everyone else arises; the still quiet, the peace. To see the African landscape come to life in the blue morning haze was beautiful.

After our land safari, we boarded a boat for a water safari on the Nile. I thought it was cool on land - but, my oh, my, it was beautiful by water.

We got eerily close to elephants.

We floated over crocs.

We inched up to hippos, just saying hello.

After about 45 minutes, we got out of the boat to hike to the top of Murchison Falls.

Once we reached the summit, we stood between two waterfalls; the mist soaking our faces. I took deep breaths and basked in its beauty, grateful to be cooled down after a hot, hot hike. 

As we left the park the next day to head to Gulu, I noticed the way the hippos, elephants and giraffes were becoming normal. Becoming commonplace. We didn't even take their pictures anymore.

Hello giraffe. Hello elephant. Hello old friends. 

Isn't that a little scary?

But you know what's worse? I noticed it with the poverty, too. The constant flow of it normalizes it. It becomes less shocking and instead scenery. 

On the one hand, it's terrifying. But on the other hand, it's amazing because I'm no longer thinking about myself. I don't care about germs. A fly landed on that? Oh well I'll still eat it. That baby peed its pants and isn't wearing a diaper? Give it to me! I'll hold him. You all want to hug and dance and love one another? I want nothing more. 

I'm desensitized to certain things that I want to remain terrified by, like poverty, but grateful for the way love has overcome my own fears and has captivated my heart.

And now, as sweet memories of giraffes dance in my head, we're Gulu bound!

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