A jubilant and tragic feature of this land is that in one instance, you can be amidst breathtaking beauty and silence-inspiring awe, and in the next, you confront horror and disbelief, and circumstances that lend themselves more to sorrow than to laughter or happiness.
The former came at the Nile.
How could I have ever hoped for the tranquility and power that came with rafting the Nile? At times, our raft drifted slowly on, kingfishers and egrets fished nearby, and the villagers washed their clothes on the river bank. THE NILE IS THEIR WASHING MACHINE! We sat on our boats eating pineapples and biscuit crackers as the current slowly pushed us through flat waters. I wonder if everyone thought about the Biblical and historical implications of such waters. There were also times through in which the water wasn't so flat! Over a 30 km stretch, we went through almost 12 rapids, 5 of which i think were class 5's (6 being the greatest). We went down an actual waterfall! we steered through rapids with names like ribcage, 50/50, easy rider, and badplace. then there was chop suey. at the base of a swell in chop suey, i looked up to see 4 feet of water above me, and coming down. the next thing i knew i was in the water, out of the boat, and wondering where i would be when i surfaced. our boat flipped once, we had multiple people fall out on other occasions, and it was exciting each time. as we finished the last rapid of the day, darkness came over the Nile, and as we walked to the trucks, a rain storm hit, adding force to the already unstoppable rapids. the scene 2,000 years earlier probably looked much the same.
then there's the tragedy.
the peace corps held a meeting in kampala in which someone from our communities was supposed to accompany us. we stayed for a few nights in a hotel and the time offered us a chance to get to know these community members a little better. one night, we started talking about the war that has been taking place for the past 22 years. we heard stories i could have never imagined, nor wanted to imagine, and hesitate even to write about. stories of abduction, rape, mutilation, forced cannibalism, and murder in ways no creature, other than man i suppose, would ever consider inflicting on another. as i write this, i question my intentions of recalling these things. sometimes i think people write about things like this to kind of say, "hey, look at what im a part of", in a braggart sort of way (this sounds horrible and yet i think it's true). I hope these aren't my intentions in writing this. i hope my intentions are to pass a message that there are people who are hurting so much and who live in a world invisible and unfathomable to most. i hope my other message is forgiveness, for the people here want to forgive (even writing about the forgiveness of such acts brings me chills). i believe they definitely want to move on. they aren't forgetting what happened, the reminders of lost homes, family members still missing, and mutilated bodies wont allow them, and they are still holding people accountable for their actions, but those whose bodies have been torn and ripped are forgiving. "how?" might be an appropriate question.
so the days go. days of brilliance, days of disgust, days that drift languidly by as our raft in the flat waters, days that come like the chop suey, that throw you, pull you under and leave you wondering where you are.
The Fossil Trade
1 day ago