Mzungu Memoirs

Restful Adventure

I don’t think anyone can argue with the importance of taking time to rest and rejuvenate for life ahead.  Even God took time rest on the seventh after creating the world.  It is especially important here in Africa.  Life is just harder here.  And it can especially wear on those of us who have not lived here all our lives and are not accustomed to the difficulties.  So, Robert and I decided to rest for a couple of days this last week.  We left Caleb at home with friends to give our marriage a little R&R too.  As we were heading off on our little “adventure,” we realized that we could not remember being away from home without Caleb since he was two years old.  He is now six.

We started our little getaway in downtown Kampala with brunch.  I know, not much of a getaway, but it does get better.  After all, we did journey from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere and back again, even if it was only 40 miles away.

After brunch we walked across downtown to catch a matatu heading to Entebbe.  This entailed navigating Old Taxi Park, an adventure unto itself.  After asking for directions from two different people (Robert calls it the triangulation method of getting directions), we found the correct matatu just in time to join the crowd of people trying to get on it.  Fortunately, we did get seats and we were off.

When boarding the matatu, we told the conductor we needed to go to the ferry landing in Entebbe.  Unfortunately, after nearly an hour ride, it did not take us all the way to the landing as we had hoped, so we had to ride boda-bodas for the last little bit.

We arrived at the landing and purchased our tickets (14,000 UGX or just over $5.00 per person for first class).  With some time before boarding, we stopped by the little restaurant at the landing for a quick bite for lunch.  Apparently, it is a frequent concern when a mzungu walks into a local restaurant because we were told twice that they only had “local food.”  We were actually hoping for some local food.

Boarding began at 1:30, half an hour before sailing time, and it seemed a little bit like getting on a plane.  We actually had to go through “security” before we could board, and Robert had his pocket knife confiscated, at least for the duration of the ferry trip.  It was interesting that there were two lines, one for men and one for women.  The men were getting pat downs (by male security guards), while the women were mostly just getting their bags looked through (by female security guards).

Once through security, we boarded the ferry.  After maneuvering through the vehicle deck, we walked through Second Class to the back of the ferry to “First Class.”  Despite minimal differences between first and second class, I was glad we paid the extra 4000 shillings for first class as the benches were actually padded.  I can’t imagine how long the 3½ hour trip would have felt without them.

We were the only mzungus on the ferry which held about 80 passengers, not counting crew and security.  Fortunately, we were pretty much left to ourselves, not suffering too much from the fishbowl effect that we so often experience here.  I will admit that we have a tendency to stand out.

While a TV was provided in first class, I don’t know that it was much of a perk.  It was difficult to hear and the shows were … inconsistent.  We started with a Hispanic soap opera with English dubbing, but it did not finish due to cloud cover interfering with the satellite signal.  Then a Korean movie with English subtitles was played, but there must have been something wrong with the DVD because it did not finish either.  Finally, an English movie called “The Red Baron” was played, but we could not hear anything and the ferry landed before the movie finished anyway.

Once the ferry landed, we wandered back through Second Class and across the vehicle deck.  Before stepping off the boat, we had to present the receipt for our “tickets” which I guess was our ticket as it was the only thing we had been given.  It seems a common practice here to present payment or proof of payment when getting off a mode of transportation rather than when getting on.

We retrieved Robert’s pocket knife, found our ride to the resort and began our very restful, peaceful stay in the Ssese Islands.  The shuttle bus dropped us off right at the door to the building our room was in, and we pretty much never left until we were ready to head back down to the ferry.  Our meals were brought to us (the building had a common sitting/dining area for the five rooms it housed), and we spent the day truly resting.  And it really was a wonderful setting in which to rest.  We listened to flocks of swallowtails, saw several vervet monkeys just outside our room and met a resident African gray parrot named Diane.  The views were amazing, and it was almost too quiet compared to our noisy city life.

The resort was not full, with very few people with whom to visit.  But I think God knew what we needed better than we did (He always does), and He allowed us time to truly just be ourselves and revel in our mzunguness.

Of course, all too soon our vacation was over and it was time to head home.  The shuttle bus came to pick us up and take us back to the ferry.  Robert’s knife was confiscated again, but we were not too concerned this time as we knew we would be able to get it back upon disembarking.  We sat right in front of the TV in hopes of being able to hear it better, to no avail.  We were able to hear the first few shows which were short little cultural clips about Uganda and really quite interesting.  But then, when the movie came on, we couldn’t hear it very well which was a shame because it was the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and I think I really would have enjoyed watching it.  Oh, well.

We did have a nice visit with a fellow Ugandan passenger who was quite interested in the cross-stitch piece I was working on.  I don’t think he quite understood the concept that I was working on it as a gift rather than a way to make money.

Once back on land, we caught a couple of bodas back to central Entebbe.  It was a bit of a wild ride, and I was a little concerned whether the boda drivers actually knew where they were going, but we finally found a matatu bound for Kampala.  Then it was back to real life, but after such a refreshing few days, I think we are ready to face what comes our way.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. – Mark 6:31-32

posted by Robert in Uncategorized and have Comment (1)

One Response to “Restful Adventure”

  1. Austin Simmons says:

    Sounds like a little slice of heaven, while working for the Kingdom. I am glad you got to recharge!