I am finally here in Aru, Democratic Republic of Congo and am blown away by the beauty of the place. I will sum up Aru in one word, colour. The green of the trees and palm branches and bushes is a green I have never seen before which stunned me as I stood in awe. The flowers here are also the brightest flowers I have ever seen and the sky the biggest and bluest I have ever seen. The people also are the friendliest and most joyful people I have ever met.
My travels to arrive here have been very exciting and eye opening. I flew my Rome to Addis Abbaba and then to Kampala. In Kampala I discovered that my backpack was lost, and of course it has all my clothes, hahaha, just awesome. One of the Canossian Sisters from Kampala picked up Karen and I and then dropped us off at a hotel for the night. We ate a wonderful Ugandan meal with delicious roasted chicken and chapatti bread, similar to crepes but thicker, and some tasty beans and spicy vegetables. We then explored our first African market and I bought my first African skirt, since I dont know when my clothes will arrive. I felt like a glow stick walking through the market since Karen and I were the only white people. It was a little awkward. The next morning at 5am we departed to the bus station to go to Arua. On the way to the bus station we drove through the slums of Kampala which was my first experience seeing real poverty. To see poverty for yourself is much different than seeing it in films or in photographs or even someone telling their experience. Seeing children sleeping on dirt floor with 6 other people in a tiny shack really causes one to say to oneself that this should not happen. A child should not have to endure that. I also saw a young man flat on his back on the sidewalk and a couple was standing over him. I have no idea if he was alive or not. This caused my heart to stop. I just pray that he was not dead.
The bus ride was a very interesting experience. For 8 hours I bumped along on a bus, stopping at small villages along the way where at every stop children, women and young men would swarm to the windows selling meat on a stick, bananas, peanuts, fish, rice cakes, mangoes, passion fruit and water. Since I was by the window they would see that I was white, or mzungo, and all stare at me and beg me to buy from them. I felt bad for them, since all day they just wait for busses to come and stop in their village so they can sell the fruit of their labour. The scenary was amazing and so varied as we travelled all day long. The trees changed in some areas to tall green ones, and then when we went through the West Nile region the trees were closer together and then savanna, and then hills, and then savanna with rocky outcrops. We crossed the Nile River which was heart stopping, seeing the white rapids and the lucious green vegetation surrounding it as well as one man pushing his boat down the river. And then we saw 2 baboons and a tiny little white monkey which could fit in my hands. Throughout the journey there were the straw huts scattered all over, and the people in these villages seem to not do much but simply sit under the shade of trees and eat fruits. In some areas you could see the people carrying heavy bushels of leaves on their heads to build their huts and walking long distances. The people here amaze my by how tough they are to work under the hot sun, walking up hills and carrying heavy buckets on their heads. I am very glad I took the bus and could see different villages and scenary.
I will continue on to Aru shortly