Tumble Photo January 15, 2015 at 03:30PM

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via IFTTT This was supposed to post on Wed the 15th, but we lost internet in the afternoon into the evening…

The simplest post to make today is: I don’t want to leave. Tomorrow is our last day in country and will mostly be spent in transit.

We woke up this morning to no power. Apparently a transformer or something blew about 1:20am. This was entirely manageable (I didn’t even really notice) until we got to The Keep for coffee. The Keep is HFC’s cafe/restaurant where we’ve had most of our meals which typically makes excellent brew and has great food including a solid bagel and outstanding tomato soup.

Those of you who know me well know that morning coffee is a deal-breaker. There was some emergency lighting on and the kitchen (gas) was operational but the Keep’s super-duper espresso machine and grinder were out of commission with the fluxy power.

I was running through my emergency backup procedure options (Via packets, caffeine pills, worth going back to the house for my spare grounds) when our hostess said “oh, but we can still do iced.” It seemed rather comical that with power out we could have iced coffee but not hot, but so it goes here. I’m typically not a cold-coffee drinker but I’d found on a hot afternoon it can indeed hit the spot here and I was not in a position to be choosy so we ordered iced and a few minutes later any brewing mischief on my end was managed.

As I sipped my iced-coffee — complete with coffee-ice cubes — and snapped the pic of my companion’s iced mocha, I reflected on something Johnny said on Monday about their intentions for The Keep: “It is supposed to be an oasis. You can see after this morning [when we visited a dire neighborhood and school] why it is so needed here. A place for aide workers and others to come and have a good meal and relax and recharge.”

Yes, I very much see why it is desirable and even needed here. A place that can be counted on to be clean, with competent and friendly staff, who will find a way to take care of you while you relax and get ready to face the day. It is indeed a refuge and oasis and it will be missed.

On this, on our last full day in Jinja, after coffee and solid breakfast we drove a few miles to rent ATVs (another first for me) and got thoroughly dusty as we were guided along the back roads of surrounding areas. It was a blast and I was happy to see a little more rural areas. That trip (with GoPro screen grabs) will be more posts in the future.

Then we returned again to The Keep for a hearty lunch and (thankfully) power before we came back to base camp for showers and misc computer stuff. We were interrupted by the security guard announcing that the batman from Mbale was here. So we all traipsed out to the backyard to watch a shirtless dude use a slingshot to take out bats. Yep, read that again. It happened.

The deal is he gets access to the property in exchange for keeping his kills (to be eaten or sold to be eaten). He uses a handmade slingshot of some sort of stub and bright red medical tubing, along with hand rolled balls of termite-mound mud and watching him in action was pretty incredible. In about a half hour he took easily 20. He was out there for much longer than our interest lasted — actually he is apparently still going. Expect a post (with footage) on that too.

So here I sit as we gear up for a dinner cooked over a bonfire — I don’t believe bat is on the menu — and I know I don’t wish to leave tomorrow. I believe I will be back, I have every intention of making it so, but I just don’t want to leave the Keep and Jinja House and all the stories and sights remaining here to be discovered. I am concentrating on enjoying the remaining time and being thankful for it all.

Tumble Photo January 15, 2015 at 08:11AM

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via IFTTT Farewell – Jinja —

No internet last evening when I completed my post and we’ve been shooting and knocking off the last remaining items on our punch list today. I have thought seriously over the last day about not leaving, but I know I will return. We said hard goodb— “see you later”s to our hosts and are off to the airport. I’m rocking a super rad, hand tooled belt from Johnson of The Forge that will look incredible with my docs and have a new journal to start on the plane (while wrangling the last of our footage). Mostly, I’m guessing, the journal will be full of notes about my visit here and how I plan to get back. See ya later Jinja. Waybalay nyo.

Tumble Photo January 13, 2015 at 12:33PM

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via IFTTT The Forge – Jinja —

In what I have termed “The Forge,” Johnson and Jonah are apprentices in the Leatherworks shop here. There are eastereggs in the pic for the “home team.” I had the pleasure of interviewing these two young craftsmen this morning about their lives and work. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday by how conversant and open young Ugandans are — once you get them talking — and both Jonah and Johnson were no exception.

At first they seem rather standoffish or closed, even these two work in near silence, all concentration on their craft. So I was concerned about “gathering stories” from the locals. I, as usual, needn’t feared. Once the cameras were rolling I asked a few basic questions and the interviewees spoke easily, proudly, smilingly, lenghtfully and well. Even after shooting most if not all have been affable, ready to engage in conversation with as much focus and concentration as they do everything else.

Jonah and I had a very pleasant and learned conversation off camera about languages (he speaks 2 to 3) and Ugandan history which was only broken off by lunch. I look forward to lurking around “the forge” a little tomorrow… for the project of course.

The rest of the day was spent bouncing about the town center, wrangling footage, taking a pleasant ruck with a sandbag we brought for our host (product testing and yes I shared) out and back to an overlook of the “source of the nile,” and then a family dinner.

The sunset was so lovely, I couldn’t help asking to be let out of the gate and across the adjacent golf course (kept neat, we learned this afternoon, by goats) to snap a few pics. It is relatively quiet as the bats have taken off for the evening (pictured — yea those aren’t birds except the big one to the right which has a wingspan of over 5 feet). The cicadas, though, are serenading us through the open windows as we read and write and even do math homework on various devices through the living room.

Tumble Photo January 12, 2015 at 09:13AM

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via IFTTT BodaBoda LiarLiar – Jinja —

As promised (and kinda-promise, kinda-broken) the pic of me riding a “bodaboda” (motorcycle).

This morning has been a hard-wonderful day. We spent the (early) morning in one of the poorest neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jinja meeting the girl one of compatriots sponsors to go to school. We also saw here school and I still have no words for that experience, I’m working on it.

After a break and emotional recharge back at the house, we spent the early afternoon interviewing students of the computer training center (my point and purpose for being here) and it was incredible balm to my bleeding heart. The pride and happiness of these accomplished students was incredible and you could see what this organization has been and is doing in their lives. Thank you Universe. So with 2 hour’s sleep I’m downloading footage, catching up a bit on internet bits and already looking forward to bed.

Here is what happened yesterday…

Did the 3am-6am awake thing again last night. I think part of it is the bats. Will try to use earplugs tonight and see if that helps (Spoiler alert: It did, but only after I was up from 2am-6am writing and really really awake). Otherwise, coffee is kicking, my belly is happy-full of waffles and a fresh banana, and I smell faintly of motor-oil while I type with a purring kitten behind my head.

Life is so good.

The rest of yesterday:

APFT (wow, yea, we aren’t at sea level)

Buddy-Carry Lessons

Shoot a slingshot (see: bats)

Walk through a pretty terrible mini-slum to catch a boat.

Boat ride with friends’ of mild-mannered Gerard who lives at Jinja House, also got BodaBoda lessons today, and is in cooking school where he only has to actually be on time 2 days a week because his teacher those days “is hard.”

See the source of The Nile in the middle of Lake Victoria (behind me in the picture across the golf coarse) and learn how The Nile got it’s name.

See many types of birds, perhaps the most picturesque potty locale and also jail locale on the planet, monkeys, a statue of Ghandi’s bust (his ashes were spread at the “source” to float all the way upriver to the mediterranean)

Get off boat at boat club literally next door to mini-slum, have phenomenal dinner on the waterfront at sunset.

Walk home to play Bang! (a card game) and eat Christmas cookies.

Meanwhile laugh, learn, and share with my amazing hosts and fellow travelers on this “down” day. My heart and brain are so full. I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to get back here. For longer.

Oh and I find it hilarious our hostess can’t believe I don’t show much interest in going bungee jumping.

Tumble Photo January 11, 2015 at 03:52PM

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via IFTTT Connection Errors – Jinja — The internet here is not great tonight so alas, I’m unable to post the picture and text from my computer I wanted to. (2nd world problems) I wish I had the energy and words for the 1000 required, but I don’t even think that would be sufficient to touch my wonder and thankfulness for this day. Hopefully tomorrow I can post more, for now, a forewarning— that whole expectation about not riding a “bodaboda” might have been flummoxed… In my defense I wasn’t just riding, I was driving. 😀 I got up to second gear on actual roads and I loved every second (and promise I still have all my teeth and fingers).