“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 2 - Sunday 12th August

Five people left the lodge today - Michelle and Ruth, Laura, Joy and Kat (Irish), and to be brutally honest I wouldn’t mind a few more moving on too – specifically the spoilt gap year kids who are not only lazy, but rude and spiteful – ok so I don’t really fit the mould, I don’t like litter louts, I don’t wear the latest fashion and I don’t have a problem wearing socks with sandals (mosquito protection), but there’s no need for people to be so openly bitchy. Tears and minor paddy over, we had breakfast and went off exploring. This time we chose the southern hillside and climbed to the top of the “mountain”, escorted by Joshua (a 14 year old lad from one of the houses at the start of the hill) – it took us almost an hour to reach the top, but the view and the peace was incredible. We could hear the gospel singers at the funeral already in full swing, and food preparations were well underway as we could see Joshua’s sister set off carrying plantain on her head to contribute. Joshua went back down the hill to water his animals leaving Caroline and I to spend a peaceful time sitting alone admiring the view and the voices.

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped at Norway’s house and taught the children to play elastic and airplanes. Norway was sick and lying on the grass outside the house, so she said she was not going to the funeral, but it seemed most of the villagers in and around Ruhanga would be attending – so we would at least know a few people.

We left Norways and as we passed by Evez and Joshuas house again on the way back to the lodge they invited us for food and drink on Tuesday afternoon. Evez was very excited and said she was looking forward to preparing something special for us to try.

In the afternoon we walked with Denis to the local funeral held at a house in the hills. The old lady who died was an ex councilor and so the event was bigger (and longer) than usual, but interesting nonetheless. The body is placed in a coffin the same as British funerals and flowers are placed on top, but the coffin sat in the garden of the son’s house where a PA system and marquee were set up. Hundreds of people turn up and food is provided by all the villagers donations. The house being on a hill meant that the hillside was covered in yet more attendees who listened to proceedings (mainly singing and speeches) from various members of the family and other villagers who knew the lady. Once all speeches were finished, the coffin was carried down the hill to a hole that had been dug in amongst the banana plants – the crowd follows, clambering over the ploughed ground between the trees and surrounds the hole. Most can’t see what’s happening, but Denis explained all to us whilst his friend took Caroline’s camera in closer for us – the coffin is lowered in and flowers placed on top whilst prayers are said and another song sung. Then the male villagers pick up about 15 spades and each of them shovel for a few seconds before passing the spade to the next male. The hole is filled and a mound created within no more than 5 minutes it was incredible to watch. More flowers are placed on top of the mound and the crowd climbs back up towards the house for drinks, food and chat. At this point we were greeted by all sorts of people wanting to shake our hands, say thank you for attending and ask questions about our work here.  We didn’t stay too long, but walked back down the hill where Denis’ friend was wiaitng to give us a lift back to the lodge.

Dinner of chips, liver and coleslaw, was followed by an evening of writing journals, drinking wine stashed from the plane and nibbles. Another awesome day.

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