Lizard by the Nile

Staring at my new friend the Lizard. “Hello, Lizard. How are you?” She responds, with a quick movement of the head, “Well, hello, there Kimberly. Nice to see you here.” Lizard and I had a nice afternoon in the sun today. Soaking in the beauty of the calming River Nile while gazing at the clouds transforming into shapes of the animals around. Meditating. Thinking. Then responding with a fast turn of the head. Calculating each movement. Moving with complete awareness and mindfulness of her actions. Responding, not reacting to my stares and gazes. Reminding me of my time at Spirit Rock Meditation Retreat. The preparation for this journey.

The blog posting silence of the past weeks has been due to much internal processing. Not yet ready to put words down and not quite sure if I am ready to share anymore. Yet, in the meantime, I was busy with work activities, teaching yoga, hanging with friends, enjoying my neighborhood with my new best friend (me) and travelling to Jinja and Sipi Falls.

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My neighborhood shop

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Adorable and funny girls on my walk home

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View from Makindye Hill

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In awe of Sipi Falls

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Now, the two beautiful people who made my life possible, my parents, join me. They came on Friday to a hot and bustling Kampala City. I had too many activities on my list to let a night go to waste so we got right to it. Went to a cultural dance and local dinner. Walter, our driver, dropped us off in the complete darkness of the night. I moved through the security gates as usual. But not as usual, I heard a running and yelling mum, “Kim! Kim!” She didn’t know where I was, and I am still not sure where she thought I was going, but nevertheless, I calmed her down and reassured her that nothing had happened to me. Next, the military man stopped us. “Where are you going? The wedding or UMEME (electricity company) event?” Well, neither. Confusion abounds. Mum asks if we need to give him some money (all this corruption talk has really gotten to her). Walter, our savoir, finds us and all is good. Our first night in Kampala 🙂

I wont go into details of all the other events, so instead I will write a list (I love lists) of all we saw/did in Kampala:

–       Idi Amin’s torture chambers- an estimated 300,000 prisoners died here of starvation, electrocution, suffocation, and thirst; very disturbing to smell death and suffering

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–       Gaddafi Mosque- huge mosque built by “The Supreme Leader of Africa”; mum got to experience her first mosque and Walter showed us how to pray (he was a devote Muslim for a year until they told him to cut his hair, now he is a Rasta man)

–       Baha’i Temple- beautiful, peaceful, meditative on a large hill; lost my glasses in the toilet hole

–       Traditional Introduction Ceremony- we were invited to my friend Sarah’s cousin’s introduction ceremony where her family is formally introduced to the groom’s family and the bride price is paid; even though it was all in Luganda it was very interesting and we greatly enjoyed it

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Presenting one of the gifts to the bride’s family- a picture of the Buganda Kingdom and the Buganda King

–       Jinja/ Source of the Nile! – two boat rides; drinking a Nile Beer on the Nile; drive through a tea plantation; mum and dad’s first Ugandan drive-thru

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At the drive-thru with mum enjoying her first chapati!

–       Parliament Visit- finagled our way into the Parliament Chambers just two days after the contentious Oil Debate that was ended when President Museveni passed it on his own in closed doors and then an opponent of the bill, aged 26, is found dead…. hmmm (dictatorship, not democracy)

–       High Court Non-Visit- had to visit the police chief to get permission; Police Chief: “Why are you here? What do you want?”; behind us prisoners in their cells, yet looking smart in their suits; we never made it into a court room

–       MEMPROW lunch- my two families get to meet and share in Chinese food and laughs together; as dad pointed out 25 percent of the conversation was about marriage

–       And last, but not least, mum and dad’s first boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) ride! I never thought it would happen, but thanks to the convincing talk of my friend Darby, before I knew it I was following them behind! Mum holding on to the driver with her dear life, and dad holding on to the back with his dear life 🙂

And now we are here, in Murchison Falls, among the herds, flocks, and families of animals. As if we are interrupting their lives as paparazzi. Snapping shots of every little move and gesture. Finally, I am taking the time for pure relaxation, yoga and meditation. Floating on our boat with wind blowing through my hair; I am in heaven. Life is good and I have everything to be grateful for. I wish you all happy holidays! May you find the time to nurture the relationships around you and appreciate the miracle of your life!

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Same Skin, Different Colour

Some days and nights are easier than others. This morning was not the best. Woke up at 6am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Fearful thoughts filling my brain every time I closed my eyes. Knowing myself, I knew that I had to get out of bed and greet the beautiful day. It worked and continues to work. Beginning to have a steady meditation practice calms the mind and prepares me for the day ahead. A new chance to start afresh and work on my intentions: be patient, relax, and have fun.

On my walk to town, I met a new friend named David. We exchanged the normal greeting, “Hi. How are you?” “Fine, thanks. And how are you?” After I walked away, I heard footsteps getting louder. “Excuse me, miss. Do you mind if I touch your skin?” he shyly asked. “Sure,” I said back. He wearily touched my arm slowly and then looked at me with eyes of disappointment as if he was expecting something magical to happen. “Why did you want to touch my skin?” I asked. And he answered, “Because my teacher at school told me that skin feels different for whites.” Hmm, very interesting. “We are all the same,” I replied. We got to talking and I learned a bit more about David. He is ten years old in Primary 6 and on his holiday break so he was looking for work as a bricklayer. He lives with his father who is an engineer and his mother left him and now he doesn’t know where she stays.

I wonder where people form these ideas that based on our colour even our skin feels different? When can we realize that we are all the same? We all strive for the same things in life: love, safety, and happiness. I hope that when David goes home he can tell all his friends that my skin feels no different than his. 🙂