For New Years Eve day, we were invited to lunch at my field assistant Moses’s house. We walked there in some smart clothes and hung out with his family, including his 2 year old son who showed up a few months back. It was funny because Moses had no son and no wife, but one day he had both. I guess that happens sometimes. Anyway, we had a nice lunch at his house. His mother was very kind to us and they had some other guests over. We knew his sister from when she worked at the field station as a cook. And his son was super shy, but eventually started playing with the toys we brought him.
After lunch, we were walking home and got caught in a big rain storm. At first, we kept walking, but then it picked up and our fancy clothes were getting soaked. We went and stood under some trees across the street from a house. A little girl at the house saw us and called us over to her house. We ran over as she and another woman were putting chairs into one of the rooms for us. We went in the room and it was the bedroom of a young woman with a baby. The girl was sooo young! And she had a new little baby. You get used to holding babies in Uganda because women always have their babies with them (no cradles or vibrating chairs to babysit the kids). And women are very friendly with letting others hold their babies. So this woman promptly plopped the baby down on my lap while she started folding the laundry on her bed. The little girl also came in the room. I used up all of my Rotooro and they used up all of their English. I said things like “rain” and pointed at the rain. And they said “yes”. Haha, no we did introduce ourselves and do all of those things. It was nice. The storm lasted for about an hour and they let us just hang out there until it was over. They were very sweet.
A few days later, we packed up a bag of food and some baby clothes and took it to them to say Thank You for their hospitality to us and for rescuing us from the rain, which I wrote in a very rough translation into Rotooro. They appreciated the gifts and turned up to our house a few days later with gifts for us. This wasn’t working out! We were supposed to be giving them gifts. They gave us fresh veggies and eggs. And had the baby dressed in the new clothes. The woman, baby, and little girl (maybe her sister?) came. We got some pictures with them and gave the girl a coloring book and crayons. We gave them some snacks and drinks for the visit and sent them off with a few things packed up.
Really, that is such a great example of how giving and friendly people are where we live. How often does someone in America just invite a stranger into their house? And then when brought a thank you gift, how often do they take the time to bring another gift as a thank you for the thank you. People here are just so giving and so kind. I know that my emails and this blog sometimes talk about the crazy things that happen to us here and I guess that is because those are things that really stick out as stories to tell, but everyday, we encounter these acts of kindness that touch us so much.
When we got back, we were picked up by Julia, an English woman who has been living in another part of Kibale for almost 10 years. She is working on a PhD at Makerere University and came to Kanyanchu (the chimp tracking site in Kibale) to habituate the chimps and do research. She fell in love with the place, as many people do, and worked with some locals to buy big plots of land next to the forest. She is building it up to be a tourist site. We know Julia for several reasons. Obviously because of her research connections, I know her. And Jeff knows her because of his work with the schools. She helps out a school near her and this was one of the schools that Jeff took on the Disney Conservation Grant trips where he took teachers chimp tracking, to Queen Elizabeth, etc. Julia is one of the resident Mzungus, so we bump into her in town and things like that. And I’ve been at conferences in Uganda that she was also at. She is really nice and loves Uganda. Her place is really cool and touches the national park. She has 3 loving crazy dogs, so it was nice to get some pet time, since that is nonexistent in most of Uganda. She has nice trails around her property to take them on walks, so we did that several times. And she has lots of log cabins built up on platforms, which were cool. We stayed up until midnight celebrating, eating, and drinking. There was a full moon and it almost looked like daylight because of how bright it was. So after midnight, we took a walk around the land with her dogs. Since it was night, she didn’t need them on leashes. We didn’t even use torches because it was so light out. It was so cool to go on this late-night, moonlit walk around the land. We slept in the next day and then did another walk. We climbed up on one of her viewing platforms and hung out. Eventually, we headed back to Kibale. It was a very interesting New Year, and a nice visit.