Attempted to post yesterday, but as is one of the perks of internet cafes here in Uganda, I was cut off at my 20 min mark and lost my entire entry :) Ah, well.
I arrived safe and sound on Monday night, and spent the night with my Ugandan friend Lillian at her family's house, and was brought down to Jinja Tuesday by Melissa and Joe. Of course the first place we went after arriving in Jinja was Amani... and the first baby I made a beeline for (after hugging several wonderful mamas) was Jeremiah. I didn't expect a lot when I saw him, but he started grinning this beautiful grin, and crawling (crawling!) towards me, saying "Mama! Mama!" I'm a softie, so I was nearly in tears. And yes, I know that Mama is one of the only words he knows and I'm sure he crawls towards most mzungu's now (white volunteers), but still. It felt amazing. Mama Maggie kept saying, "Oh, surely he remembers you, Auntie." Smiles. Smiles. Lots of them.
There are so many beautiful new kids at Amani, and I'm so excited to get to know this group. This afternoon we're supposed to take the toddlers on an outing, a boat ride to the source of the Nile. Being even near the water will surely feel good since it is so, so HOT here. Apparently this is the hottest part of the year, and definitely dry season, because crop prices at the market are a lot higher than most of us vols remember from last year. It's hard, because you aren't sure how much you can bargain down at the market... you dont want to be taken advantage of as a mzungu, but you want to give them a fair price as well.
Speaking of "Mzungus..." I find it highly amusing that people here have found something new to say to you as you walk down the street. Usually, it's "Mzungu how are YOU?" or "Mzungu, fine, mzungu bye" but now?
It's a very excited, emphatic cheer. And I die laughing every time. I was looking for a cell phone at a stand yesterday and the first greeting I get was "OBAMA!" and then, "How are you? You like Obama?" Hahaha.
Last night, we spent New Year's Eve at a restaurant called Two Friends, where they had a fireworks display (Ugandan fireworks are the same, except perhaps not as carefully aligned, as several ended up shooting out into the crowd and showering us with sparks and "fire"). Also, it was very amusing to note that at midnight, they counted *up* to the New Year. 1, 2, 3....and 10 was when we shouted and "had much banging on things."
But before Two Friends, we headed to a boys' home down the road to bring a holiday surprise. I'll have to write more about these boys later, but there are 15 former Jinja street kids who live there with 2 Ugandan Aunties and an Uncle. We arrived, bearing a strange item that both Amberle and I had somehow thought to pack... glow sticks. We handed them out and had the boys walk outside for further instructions... seeing the looks on their faces when we told them to break the sticks, and shake, was PRICELESS. Those boys hooped and hollered and danced for a couple of hours with us, playing hide and seek in the dark, and dancing. Oh, there was much dancing. Those boys pounded out amazing beats with sticks and two jerry cans and we all just danced in the yard... my heart hasn't been so full in a long time.
Running out of time. Until next time...
Lots of it.