August 14, 2010

Mabira forest, Uganda

The plastic smoldered, drew itself up from clear blue womanly shapes and bright yellow shopping bags to black jewels glistening on ashen logs. The Ugandan interns burned the plastic we’d all collected – the rubbish that has been strewn haphazardly around the party site.

We mzungos* intended to throw it away…where I’m not sure since I still haven’t seen a trash can…but burning wasn’t what we had in mind. Still, it made for a pretty fire. Blue and orange flames between plumes of gray smoke reaching for the clear spot where the canopy of treetops didn’t quite meet.

At this point the night was meandering to an end and the gathering of people who had assembled to say goodbye to my predecessor were nibbling on final bites, voices carrying into final bursts of song, hips wiggling to trailing music.

But it had been moving. People going out of their way to say thank you through song, humor, sentiment, gift. If not intimidating, it was definitely humbling to see the impact- to feel the love- held in trust for her.

Food was central of course. Frederick (of course I named him), the most recent gift from a well commissioning, was skewered on an abundance of sticks and roasted over a makeshift banana tree grill. The pungent sent of goat perfuming the air.

This party was a patchwork of moments. Parts of it made the most familiar pattern. As the night grew cooler and clusters of people drew closer to the warmth of the fire, there were discussions of love and marriage. Of friendship and work. Pieces of the quilt easily recognizable. But there were those moments, because I am a new addition here – foreign and older – where I don’t yet know the cloth, the pattern.

The electricity was out in Mabira leaving the paths to our bandas (sleeping quarters) so dark that the light from my headlamp seemed to uncover only the smattering of rocks in my immediate path. Never mind the muddy water caught in the ruts of cars traveling the same path, stones slick with forest carpet, and mud.

I walked slowly, head careening up from time to time to catch a glimpse of the glittering sky, cocked toward the sound of nocturnal life. The insomniac forest kept vigil while I slept.


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1 Comment on Mabira evening

  1. LaDawn says:

    I like…

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