Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gulu Scenes

The sky here is enormous. It goes on forever in every direction, clouds billowing high and low. You could lay in the long grass and watch them forever.
Gulu is fantastic.

We drove for five hours to get here from Kampala, and the highlight of the trip for both Kevin and me was the same. We rounded a bend and there it was...massive, raging, scary and beautiful. The Nile. Pictures will absolutely not do it justice. We could have sat on that bridge and stared at the river for days. We get to ride a ferry over it tomorrow, but apparently that will be at a calm spot. The place we saw on our roadtrip had rapids rated something higher than Class V, as in, perilously unnavigable. There's a small part of me that wants to take it on anyway.

Today we visited the Gulu Hope Alive site, which was amazing. We played with the kids, they made up songs and skits, Kevin taught them how to make paper airplanes, I put countless fake tattoos (my specialty;) on eager arms, and enjoyed a meal of casava (a sort of potato) and sweet tea. The site is in an area which used to house internally displaced persons from Sudan, and so there are dozens of huts left over from that in the surrounding areas. I took a walk through grass about twice as tall as me, wandering as I'm prone to do, until my little friend Mark, he's about six, came and found me, taking me by the hand back to our building for tea.

You should know, if you haven't been here before, how amazing the childrens' smiles are. It's not just the smile itself, it's how it happens. The kids are observant, watching you as you move past, not afraid to look right into your eyes, but their gaze is serious, curious and respectful. Then if you give them a smile, and if you hold it for at least a second, and they break into a smile as well. A shy and delighted smile that lights up their entire face. Also difficult to capture on film. No worries, because I know we won't ever forget it.

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