River’s mouth

‘You can’t step into the same river twice,’ they say, they taunt, they warn. It may look the same; the water may feel the same, caressing skin between toes. The smell might even evoke a long ago memory that feels so refreshing you are tempted to submerge yourself fully, try to grab a current, ride it to your past to reshape, recreate, relive a better yesterday.

I knew Uganda would be different. I had no idea a river could turn into a sea so fast. I still see familiar corners, know my way around this way and that, but everything has changed, expanded, grown. It’s shiner. It’s faster.

It’s happier.

A refrain on endless cycle from before, heard from taxi drivers, shop keepers, dreamers, “Museveni gave us peace, but now there are no jobs. We have our lives but no money to live them.”

As we flew away to Rome, the earth spilled oil.

Six years ago my husband, daughter and I drove all the way from Kampala to Nairobi. It took us three days, through bush, through tea plantations, through gorgeous emptiness, and when we landed in Nairobi it felt like landing on the moon. We felt dusty, creased, Uganda falling off us like dirt in this city of shine, of commerce, of wealth. Just one country over seemed a world away.

Six years later Kampala feels like a new Nairobi hatchling.

Oil. Gas. Investors.

And hope.

The new cafés are filled with youth. The new shops with pulse. The people with hope.

How amazing to experience this change. To watch it shift. To step into something so familiar, and yet so new.

11 thoughts on “River’s mouth

  1. It’s so exciting what is going on in East Africa at the moment. I hope soon to be able to visit and see for myself!

  2. The red dirt changes its hue. Change is natural, inevitable, constant; wondrous yet disconcerting. I grew up part of the immediate post WWII generation. A time of slower pacing. Time to digest, time to reflect. Time to creep along ever so sloooowly. Ratchet forward in a time warp where everything is speeded up; exciting, wondrous yet disconcerting, uncertain, nerve shattering. No time for complacency, no looking over your shoulder. Yet wondrous all the same, always the question ‘what’s next?’ with uncertainty and even some trepidation. From the red dirt of Uganda to the shores of America, the same and yet so different. Exciting. Hopeful. Enjoy the next phase of your journey and keep in touch. Seymour

  3. Wonderful to read Sabrina. I’m actually due to visit the country at the end of the month, though most of the time will be spent north in Gulu. Would be grand if I saw you there! Loved Sliders!

  4. Hi Sabrina, i really love reading your thoughts. Its like seeing through your eyes, sometimes its exciting,sometimes gloomy, sometimes puzzled,sometimes in full discovery, other times in like a day dream. Ive been following you for a long while now, sometimes you hit at home so precisely it spooky lol, this time you kinda made me remember what it is to travel and discover things ive seen and i truly miss, ive been all over myself, and the saying ” been there done that” or ” things are the same yet are different” is what i felt reading this time from you, and i ponder or wonder………..? Are things really getting better? Am i standing to close to the tree and not seeing the forest? Or are things getting worse and the powers that be are just pushing us in front of a trre while they a riping the forest away………..? I guess i e seen so much negative thing lately that reading what you feel and sense is sometimes a breath of fresh air. This time it was, it took my mind off of this vicious system of things, and you try to let us see that…………well you see things better in other ways………..am i making any sense?

  5. Hi Sabrina, i really love reading your thoughts. Its like seeing through your eyes, sometimes its exciting,sometimes gloomy, sometimes puzzled,sometimes in full discovery, other times in like a day dream. Ive been following you for a long while now, sometimes you hit at home so precisely it spooky lol, this time you kinda made me remember what it is to travel and discover things ive seen and i truly miss, ive been all over myself, and the saying ” been there done that” or ” things are the same yet are different” is what i felt reading this time from you, and i ponder or wonder………..? Are things really getting better? Am i standing to close to the tree and not seeing the forest? Or are things getting worse and the powers that be are just pushing us in front of a trre while they a riping the forest away………..? I guess i e seen so much negative thing lately that reading what you feel and sense is sometimes a breath of fresh air. This time it was, it took my mind off of this vicious system of things, and you try to let us see that…………well you see things better in other ways………..am i making any sense?

  6. Hi Sabrina – I am grateful for your wit, your commitment, and especially your integrity, which makes me think you might be the right person to offer some guidance — or at least insight — on a dilemma.

    My wife and I went gorilla trekking in Rwanda four years ago. It was, simply, the most profound experience of my life. Looking into those magnificent beings’ eyes changed me, connected me to humanity (my own and others’) completely and without judgement…and that feeling remains fresh in my soul, even after all this time.

    This coming August, we are going to take my 90-year-old mother on a safari (she loves elephants, and wants to experience them in the wild) and I want her to get the chance to know the sense of wonder I had with the gorillas. Trekking in Uganda would be more luxurious and easier on her than going to Rwanda would, but I am concerned about the morality of giving economic benefit to a country which has such draconian attitudes about, and penalties for, homosexuality.

    I’d love to know your take on this. I know you have lived there (maybe still do) but that was in service, not as a tourist. Do you have any thoughts about this issue?

    Sincerely and with gratitude,
    Tom

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