We spent most of the weekend in Masaka. Although the road there was rough and bumpy, I knew as soon as we pulled into our site there that this part of Uganda was my favorite. The hills are green and rolling. The air is still warm but not nearly as gripping and humid as it can be elsewhere... at times it almost felt cool. The atmosphere of the town is more relaxed than Gulu, the other smaller town we've been in, since Masaka is in Southern Uganda and not affected by the rebel activities that had been going on in the north. Whenever I'm in a new place, be it a city, state or country, I like to imagine where I'd live if I settled down for awhile there. In Uganda, it would be Masaka.
There were so many highlights to the weekend...
* We visited the classes at a primary school and were there during one of their hour breaks. Some of the boys in the Hope Alive program practice their drumming during htat time. Kevin went over to join them... and soon there were dozens and dozens of kids around, because as someone said, "There's a muzungu (white person) playing the djembe!" Boys were authoritatively pounding their respective drums, fiercely hitting their shakers, occasionally looking up at each other to acknowledge or adjust the beat. Beads of sweat dripped down the face of each person. Some of the girls started dancing, swaying their hips to the sounds, looking like they were born to do it. I don't know how they learn to do that by 8 years old... they truly must've been born with the skill. Then a dance-off evolved from that... muzungus vs locals. You could probably have scooped up in handfuls the joy that was pouring out from everyone all over the place.
* The next day the kids of Hope Alive put on a fantastic dance and drumming program for us. It was a more polished, more passionate, and amazingly impressive version of what had happened spontaneously the day before. They work on their music program all the time, and treat visitors to their talent when they pass through their Masaka site. The girls in their native dress costumes shook their bodies like crazy, worked their bare feet over the floor- paying no attention to the 2 inch deep and probably 1 foot wide holes dusty holes in the facility floor. Kevin and I clapped our hands and cheered and thought the same thought many times... "I wish I had moves like that."
* We watched the USA vs. Ghana game on the outside patio of our Hotel Zebra on Saturday night. The full moon was out and so was our patriotism in support of our team. All two of us... surrounded by Ugandans, cheering on the last African team left in the World Cup. We were sorely outnumbered. Kevin and I would gasp quietly at all the close calls for a goal for our side... and on both of Ghana's great quick goals, we looked down in disappointment as cheers rose up all around. We laughed at the setting and couldn't be too bummed about the USA loss... we've loved our African World Cup watching experience and are quite happy for them.
The time here in this country has almost run out...but I think it's been lived to the fullest. Still a bit more to share with you before the end though.