Day 6 ... contined
So with Danny dressed in his best clothes, the three of us set off on the long walk to the main road. Danny walked with his back straight and his head held high. Normally he chats away to everyone and waves as we pass neighbours, but today he obviously felt very important because he ignored calls from his friends and just kept walking, looking up and Moses and I smiling. It was the cutest! At the main road, we jumped in a taxi van to Jinja and bumped along the dusty red dirt roads, trying to keep our clothes as wrinkle free as possible. Moses was in the front seat and Danny and I were squashed somewhere in the back of the van, Danny being on my lap. In Jinja, we went to the market to quickly buy some new clothes for Moses's mother and step-father, and also some supplies for Moses's eldest daughter who is living away. The mother and step-father are dependent on Moses, making a total of 12 immediate dependents for Moses.
After loading up on supplies - I bought 12 pairs of flip flops for the family for less than a fiver - we found a driver to take us to visit the daughter, Maureen. She is 14 and attends a different school and stays with Moses's "uncle". We arrive and wait by the car for Maureen to appear. When she finally does, she and Danny run to each other and she swings him around in her arms. Danny obviously adores Maureen, and I hear that the other children do as well. It is not hard to see why. She has the biggest smile and gorgeous shining eyes. I love her already. As with all the Owino children, her manners are immaculate and she enquires after my health and my family. We give her the new things that Moses has bought for her and she tells him off for buying her an art book instead of a graph book, as she had asked. Ha! Moses also gives her some cakes and pours her a glass of coca cola before we have to say goodbye. I'm sad we can't stay longer but we have the driver waiting for us and we have a long journey to visit grandmother.
Moses warns me in the car that his mother's village is "very rural". I can't imagine what it's going to be like as, for me, Moses's village is very rural!! I'm half excited, and half nervous. We continue to bump along the roads. Danny insists on standing up in the car, no matter how many times I try to tell him it's dangerous.
After a long and bumpy journey going up up up a mountain, we reach a clearing with some huts, the car stops and an elderly man jumps in. This turns out to be Moses's step-father, although I am not told this until further up the road after they have been chatting in local dialect (not Lusoga in these parts) for about 5 minutes. When we finally arrive at grandmother's home, it is indeed very rural. I have not seen anything resembling a shop or a 'main road' (by Ugandan standards) for a while now. We are high up a mountain and surrounded by overgrown jungle and straw/mud huts. It's beautiful. As we step out of the car, women come running to Moses 'shrilling' and cheering and generally making his arrival known loudly to the whole village. It is very exciting! A lady dressed in a jade green Gomez (the traditional dress) comes towards us and Moses tells me this is his mother. She has the face of a woman who has lived many lives ... and I wish I could sit and talk to her at length but she doesn't speak good English. The step-father however does, and he tells me all about his land and their way of life. He owns 4 acres which he tries his best to farm but they have no children to help in the fields so they are not successful. What a shame! To have 4 acres and yet only be able to use enough of it to feed yourself. If he could afford to pay some workers, they could farm the entire area and generate a good income.
We are seated in a straw hut which has a special table set up and on the wooden chairs, grandmother has placed lace covers. It all feels very royal! Lunch arrives and I'm not exaggarating when I say we are served a feast (you will see from the pics!) .... including bugs. Yes, I have now eaten bugs. These particular ones were 'white ants'. Moses offered them to me and said I didn't have to eat them if I didn't want to, but in a moment of bravery (or stupidity, not sure), I took a handful and crunched them down. And surprisingly, they were very nice. I'm being serious! Kind of .... nutty :) I had quite a few before my brain kicked back in and whispered to me "You do realise you're eating bugs, don't you?". I put the bowl down.
We had an amazing afternoon at grandmother's. The whole village came to visit, I'm sure. One by one, people would arrive to say hello to Moses and look at the Muzungu. The children looked at me through the poles holding up the straw hut and every time I looked at them, they would giggle and talk excitedly among themselves. I decided to take some photos of them which they loved - they became very competitive about who would be photographed next. If one posed for me by a particular structure, all the others wanted an identical photo taken too. Good job I brought 4 SD cards with me then!
Eventually, it was time to leave. The step-father changed into his new clothes and we all posed for various family photos. We then walked for about 10 minutes to a clearing where we were told a boda would come to collect us. After a further 30-40 minutes, two bodas came. I guess it's the same rule as buses in England - nothing for ages, then two come at once! Moses went on one boda, Danny and I on the other. It was a long ride back into Jinja over some decidedly dodgy roads but hey, it was an experience. And Danny wasn't fazed, so I reminded myself to get a grip. Ha!
Got back to the compound after dark and the welcome from the rest of the Owino family was amazing. They had clearly missed up and wanted to know all about our adventures. I showed them photos of Maureen and grandmother which caused great excitement - they haven't seen each other for at least three months now. I felt very homesick during dinner which I suppose is natural at this point, and after experiencing such a family orientated day. I wish my family could share this with me. I ended up crying into my fish, which caused much worry among the Owino family. I explained to Moses that I was simply missing my mother and my son. He then insisted that all the children gather round and share his plate of food so that we could all eat as a family which was just so touching. I do sincerely love the Owino family. I have become very close to them.
After dinner, I read a story to Winnie and was then read to by John. I then taught all the children how to play Eye Spy (using colours) which they loved. We played for over an hour!
Unfortunately, I did have quite a few unpleasant visits to the toilet this evening. Thank god for Immodium - it may save my life, ha ha. I think I will stay away from eating bugs from now on ..... !!