Monday, June 16, 2008

The Long and Winding Road

Several weeks ago I made the journey from Kampala to Kasese. The trip can be made in about five hours or so, yet we made several detours and enjoyed an interesting 8 hour adventure!
Among our detours were several stops to pick up supplies for the farm including: sapplings, seeds, equipment and dogs...yes dogs.
So, I trecked through the bush to mud-brick huts, through fields of long-horned cattle and sheep (literally through the herds), and helped select dogs which rode in the back of the car with Branson and I...all the while experiencing Ugandan driving at its best: careening at 110 km/h through traffic, people, goats and chickens. Yeah...welcome to Uganda!
Since my arrival in Kasese I have taken many journeys to and from the farm in the village of Karusandara. I have passed most of these journeys in the back of the pick-up truck; wind in my hair and the occassional bug in my eye :) It is a gorgeous stretch of country in the Rwenzori Mountains, the view is almost surreal.
Many of the trips involve transporting equipment for projects out on the farm. Recently we began an animal husbandry project and have relocated several hundred baby chicks to the farm. One very memorable journey occured a few days ago. We have been constructing a fence for the goats and thus we loaded the truck with timber, 18 goats, several bunches of plantanes, chicken feed and about 10 people...this is a standard pick was an impressive feat!
Things have been busy here at CETRUD (The Centre for Environment Technology and Rural Development) as we have been preparing for NOGAMU. NOGAMU is the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda. It was a really inspiring event where I met farmers from all over Uganda who share a beautiful relationship with the land and are strongly connected to those core values and one another.
While preparing for the exhibition we traveled to many farms sponsored by CETRUD to gather produce to exhibit. One such journey began late one evening as we all piled into the pick-up and traveled deeper into the village than I have yet been. Villages here dismantle whatever image or concept of a village your brain has compiled.
We turned off the main road (a very passable dirt road with its fair number of pot-holes and wash outs) onto a secondary road which is literally a walking path that has been carved out by surrounding residents. We continued on this path with a constant onslaught of trees and brush pummeling the sides of the vehicle. You shake so violently over the terrain that you become very aware of your insides as they knock against your bones! I found myself laughing at the absurdity of taking a car through this...when it has probably been years since another vehicle has had any reason to pass.
Suddenly, we came upon a smooth, swept dirt patch, barren and beautiful, that served as someone's front yard. It was such a surprising, welcome change of scenery. This was the first of a series of homes which compiled the village. We reached our destination and were welcomed into the field to collect pineapple for exhibition.
Standing in the middle of the pineapple field, lit only by the moon, brought this overwhelming sense of calm. That universal peace you experience on a mountain somewhere or sitting on the beach or even quietly in your own back yard.
Thus, what felt like the road to no where, actually delivered me to the unifying experience of quiet, calm and peace.


Lucy (Y) said...

Dear Lea, It was great to read your
blog and comments. Thanks for sharing so graphically what you are doing, seeing, feeling - I can almost imagine you in the moonlight in a Ugandan village. I know that the internship is full of challenges - wonderful that you can appreciate the experience for all that it is. Look forward to hearing more. Take care, Lucy (Y)

Danika Barry said...

Oh wow, what a great entry Lea. So, so beautiful.