Saturday, July 16, 2011

I've got West Nile Fever

Ya'll should come visit. We'll go on a goat-safari. And I'll make you bean-balls.

Arua town is actually pretty cool--- it's a very muslim town and wherever you walk there are men, women, and children draped in beautifully colored cloth and late at night/early in the morning, you can hear the lilting songs of the services floating above the town. During the day, even though it is a small town, it is a dramatic series of frenzied activities that are somehow executed without injury or stress---- bicycle bodas fly past with a woman in robes sitting sidesaddle on the back, boda bodas weave in and out of people, women walk on the sidewalk with large bundles on their heads, and usually a baby wrapped in a clothed bump on their backs. Large white NGO vehicles speed by, the people inside busy talking on their cell phones, as the people outside walk barefoot and sell homemade ropes or mangos. Loud music blasts from streetside dukkas and the owners lay sprawled under trees enjoying the sparse shade, and some gather in front to dance to the music. When I think of Arua town, I think of the beauty of the Congolese fabric, seen on almost every woman, or hung high in shops, and the seamless dance of daily activity that everyone performs together, whether it's a woman sitting on the concrete with a basin of fruit in front of her, a group of boda boda drivers waiting for work on a corner, smoking and calling out to passerbys, or a group of school girls walking closely together with their plaited skirts swinging side to side. SOmehow, without thinking, all of these different people walk, roll, ride, and sit on this same street, all doing their separate activities, weaving in and out of the tide. I don't think I'm part of this dance yet, because I seem to disturb, rather than add to the scene.

This is in lieu of pictures. They are coming, I promise. I just need to break the seal and start taking pictures. If I could sum up the appearance of my village in an image, it would be something that happened to me this morning. It's 6:45 am, and I'm walking to the main road on a tiny dirt path that winds through the deep valley that falls between my house and Tom's. In the valley, the mist is crawling up and the sun is almost out. The maize and otehr plants are so green and are wet from the valley's fertile soil and streams. Coming down to the valley from my place, all I can see are the bowing heads of maize, the bowing heads of several early-risers who are either sweeping the dirt around their huts or starting to farm their crops, and the distant crowns of thatched roof huts that surround me over the hills. All I can see are huts and green layers of land and trees far off into the distance. It's the best time of day, when people are just waking up, and starting to go through the daily motions.

3 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, Ilse. I love the way you completely paint this amazing picture of the place you are in and the people who exist in it. Gorgeous :) I can totally see you in that scene!

    This is my favorite part: "Somehow, without thinking, all of these different people walk, roll, ride, and sit on this same street, all doing their separate activities, weaving in and out of the tide. I don't think I'm part of this dance yet, because I seem to disturb, rather than add to the scene. "

    I think as an expat you sort of always feel just outside understanding the complexities of a society that is not you own, but that is part of the amazing mystery that makes traveling so great. I often describe Colombia as a beautiful mess; full of stunningly gorgeous scenery, places, things, and people, but still somehow chaotic. Sounds like Uganda may have some of that as well...

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  2. Ilsers - this is a love poem to Uganda, very personal, very vivid. Thank you for the lovely written word photograph of your life. Love, Mumsy

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  3. I agree with Kristin and mom. Thanks for that Ilse!

    Love Leif

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