Monday, Feb. 23, 2009-
We were up early this morning with the goal of leaving by 9 am from Hope for Children Center. (Ha!) Packed up our stuff and then we presented donated school supplies to the whole assembly of children and teachers. The students sang beautiful songs to us - such lovely voices! Esther was sick this morning so I presented a scrapbook that was made up with pictures and letters from past years' visitors. Brigitte filled in for Esther by giving the "snow" talk - showing pictures of snowy scenes, snowmen, snowplows and a picture of John and I at our mountaintop wedding. We mixed up a couple pans of artificial snow (that someone had donated to teach the children about snow) and all the children filed passed us, running their fingers through the snow - pinching it and taking a few grains with them to investigate further this unique substance.
John and Slawek (pronounced Swavic, a Polish teammate) packed the Toyota Prado. They spent a long time on it - making sure that it wouldn't move for anything. A beautiful job that they were quite disappointed to learn was unnecessary since we weren't going all the way to the border (like they thought). We were just going to the next big town to catch a matatu ride.
We tried to spend as much time with Boaz and Everline as we could but packing days are always a bit hectic with running around, packing and wrapping up inevitable last minute details. We would chat with them for a minute or tease them or tickle Everline which would make her giggle. I found some slightly squashed/melted M&M's during packing that I gave to the kids for them to enjoy and a kitty cat poster that I had forgotten about and gave it to Everline. Then she just hid behind her poster - she was having a hard time with us leaving - she was disconnecting, not responding to us or smiling like usual. It was really sad.
Boaz asked if they could go with us to catch our matatu ride. I didn't know if that would be possible but said I would ask. After talking to Maurice, who was a bit concerned about what the teachers would say - they had been out of school a lot while we were there (of which I was TOTALLY unconcerned, how often does this happen?? lol) - he agreed! This was great - a little more time with the kids!
We were finally underway after 12 pm! Partly because of us and partly due to "Africa time". One of the older girls also joined the group for a trip into town so that made nine people stuffed into a hot crowded landcruiser. Three in the back, John, Boaz, Everline and I in the middle, Esther and Maurice in the front. Good thing the kids were small! :)
We had our first (and last) flat tire of the trip - pretty good considering that we were in Africa a month! John had warned Maurice about the tires - they were totally bald, and no wonder from the washboard roads. We had to flag down a bus and then a truck to help us - we didn't have a lug wrench but the men were very kind and helped get everything shipshape. The truck driver had an extra lug wrench that he was willing to sell so now the vehicle had everything it needs (minus a spare tire at the time). Then we were back on our way!
We arrived at the stage (matatu area) in the early afternoon. It was very hot with lots of hounders marketing their wares. Maurice went off and negotiated a matatu for us and then it was time for us to leave. Everything happens very quickly once a matatu is arranged - lots of hurry and worry as luggage leaves your hands (we always carried our own backpacks) and goes flying through the crowds. We always tried to have someone at the matatu and someone with the rest of the luggage until the final piece made it to its new resting spot. I said goodbye to the kids but unfortunately things happened so fast that John didn't get to say goodbye before the kids disappeared - they must have went back to the car with the older girl after I said goodbye. It was very sad for both of us, me because I felt bad for John.
No sooner than we got seated and we were whizzing down the road with the wind in our faces off to the "Pearl of Africa" - Uganda here we come!