Lizards, Lions, and Learning Lessons

 

In my last post, I asked for adventure. Well, I got it, and I think the old saying is true: when it rains, it pours.

Last night, I returned to the hotel room/bungalow that I shared with my dad and started to get ready to go to sleep. Before lowering my mosquito net, I decided to take the heavy comforter off the bed since I had been a sweaty mess the night before thanks to the African humidity.

When I pulled the blanket back, a six inch lizard stared up at me from between the sheets, then quickly sprinted off the bed and into the dark corners of the room. Whenever creepy-crawlies are involved, I usually try to keep my cool, but a lizard in my bed was a whole new story. As I freaked out, my dad told me to suck it up and go to sleep. However, I was still very unnerved and used my flashlight to scan the floor of the room, trying to spot the little guy. Finally, in a dark crevice under my nightstand, I spied a thin, curved tail. I told my dad that I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that the intruder was hiding mere feet from my face, so he agreed to catch it. After some difficulty, we managed to double team the lizard and catch him under the wicker trashcan. Unfortunately for the lizard (and for us) his tail got caught under the basket’s edge and was cut off. After dumping the body outside, we were horrified to see the tail still twitching and curling on our floor, disconnected from its former body and mildly bleeding. It was truly disgusting. At this point, I was standing on my bed, yelling and cursing, while giving Matt and Chase a play-by-play of the incident through the thin walls separating our rooms. Needless to say, I will never look at a lizard the same way.

Early this morning, we were able to go on a bus ride through the Merchison Falls game park. We saw a herd of giraffes, more water buffalo and warthogs than we could count, a few elephants, and many other animals; we even did a little off-roading and were able to spot a few crouching lions hiding in a bush! It was really incredible- a real life version of the Lion King!

 However, towards the end of our three hour ride, our bus got stuck on an uphill sand road. After we all got off, the boys all tried to push it free but the bus remained completely stuck. There we were, stranded in the middle of a National Park filled with dangerous, wild animals. However, the gods must have been looking out for us because another bus pulled up behind us and helped pull us out of the sandy pit. We had to drive all the way back through the park and retrace the path we came in on, but that seemed a small price to pay for our freedom and safety.

 On the way back from the hospital, we saw a small van by the side of the road that looked like it had just crashed. We found out that the van had lost control on the road and ended up rolling over. Matt, who is pre-med, got out and helped one of the men, who had some pretty deep cuts. The passengers turned out to be some of the men who had been on the bus that helped us out of the sand ditch earlier that morning! Talk about paying it forward! It was really cool to be able to repay the favor.

After all of today’s crazy events, I realized how important the African support system is. In a place devoid of easy fixes for everyday problems- like getting stuck in a road or crashing a car- the people rely on each other for help and support. With no 24/7 AAA service, tow trucks, reliable cell phone service, or even reliable electricity, the people of Uganda don’t even think twice before lending a helping hand to someone in need.

Additionally, this willing attitude reaches beyond just car trouble. The people who we encountered in the villages had incredibly hard lives. They had no money and little access to education, health care, or mobility. Their families and livelihoods had been destroyed by war and they were constantly confronted with disease and death. The only way that these people are able to stay strong is through the support of their families and communities, and they all look out for each other as best as they can.

I think that Americans could learn a lot from the people of Uganda. Since in the USA, ambition and competition are often so heavily stressed, many people are so focused on themselves and ‘getting ahead’ that they forget the Golden Rule: do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.

On the agenda for tomorrow is a trip to the source of the Nile. It should be another great day, and then its back to the U.S. of A!

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