Tag Archives: Carol

An Ode To Crows

Crows are not exactly something that comes to mind when a person things of a place like Uganda. Nevertheless, these iconic birds are in fact everwhere on the African subcontinent. With their glistening black feathers and dirty white chests, these birds are unmistakably present across the whole of Uganda – from Kampala to Adjumani and everywhere in between. You might be wondering why I would be writing a blog post about crows. Well, let me tell you a short story that should clear things up for you.

Yesterday, after recording a backpack journalism record eight interviews and endless hours of B-roll footage at St. Mary’s Assumption Girls Secondary School the exhausted group of nine students and three professors set off for one more interview with a local journalist named Sharon. The intrepid group had tried to interview Sharon the day before, but a rain storm stopped the interview short of completion. As a result, the group decided to try and finish up Sharon’s interview the next day if there was a bit of time after visiting the girl’s secondary school. Luckily, there was a bit of time and the group was able to interview Sharon.

Sharon works for a local radio station on the grounds of the Adjumani District Office of the Prime Minister. Apart from being a government office compound, this particular location was actually a popular gathering place for a large murder of crows. However, Carol informed us that this was in fact not a murder of crows, but rather a large plethora of them. Then, for some odd reason, she went off on a tangent about her love for the word plethora and how she felt as though this word simply wasn’t being used often enough. Irregardless, Tim felt as though this word was overused and asked Carol why she loved it so much. Undeterred by Tim’s pessimism, Carol declared that henceforth the word plethora should thus be used with greater frequency.

Anyhow, back to the crows. As the group set up for the interview the only sound that could be heard was the shrill cry of the crow. The crows droned on and on with a sound so repulsive that  each and every member of the group cringed in unison. In order to get rid of the pesky crows, the group of students and professors decided to send their humble guide Herbert to deal with them. Herbert decided that it would be a good idea to try and fling large stones at the crows perched high upon a radio tower in the Office of the Prime Minister’s compound. Instead of scaring away any of the crows, Herbert instead made the entire group laugh with his unconventional throwing style. After a while, Tim decided that he would try and help Herbert to scare away the crows. He had about as much success scaring away the crows as Herbert did.

With no choice but to record the interview with Sharon, the group was forced to proceed in spite of the horrific shrill cry of the crows.  Each cry of the crows caused more and more pain to the intrepid group trying so desperately to interview Sharon. Without much luck, the group proceeded to interview Sharon and hopefully recorded some footage that was salvageable amongst the shrill  crys of the African crows.

To the Crows I have the following to say, “shut up!” Nobody wants to hear your shrill cry echoing across the Ugandan landscape. Seriously, try being quiet for a change. It might actually make you a more likable species of bird.

This blog post goes out to Ben who thought it impossible that I could write one about our group’s favorite species of bird. I would also like to dedicate this post to Carol. I think she’ll find that all of her favorite words were used in it.

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Beauty lies within the hearts of those you meet

Today we met up with two of Carol’s friends at Saguaro National Park. One is an accomplished herpetologist and the other is currently a journalism/magazine/editor professor at University of Arizona. They took us around the park and taught us many things about the plants and animals of the park. It was really a nice day and a beautiful park.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park

After the park we went to a restaurant with both of Carol’s friends. One of Carol’s friends is named Carol as well so we called her Carol 2. I got to sit next to her at lunch. We talked almost the whole time. She applied twice to work at National Geographic out of college as a writer and the second time she got in. She did some time in the office then became the editor at National Geographic for their travel magazine. She was telling me stories of the places she got to go and what she wrote about. Also she was on the launch team of the National Geographic web site when it first came to the Internet. I loved talking to her and seeing how excited yet humble she was. My teacher Carol told us that Carol 2 has won just about every teaching award possible.

Later in the evening Father Pete, Ivan, and a new guest came over for pizza. The new guests name was Mario. We talked one on one for a while before dinner started and then at the table. His story went a little like this. He was born in Portugal then did his undergrad in the states. Then he went to the University of Europe in Belgium to receive a masters. Their master programs are only 1 year so it is super intense. After that he served in the United Nations as a diplomat for 28 years. He lived for at least 2 years in 12 different countries and is fluent in 4 languages. He was telling me how he chose to live a life in service for others and how he always wants to give back. He said that that is the way to live a life and I totally agree with him. After his 28 years with the U.N. he got a call from the Vatican to serve there for 2 years. He did that and said it was a really good experience and now he is in between Spain and Boston in retirement. He is here in Nogales to do some consulting work for the Kino Border Initiative. I think it was God’s plan for us to meet because he left an impression on me and we had a great and meaningful talk.

Tomorrow is our last day in Nogales before we head back home.  I continue to meet these amazing people and there are so many stories that will be left untold.  I am now a witness to the raw reality of life on the border.   I alone can not change this reality but I highly encourage you to spend time reading testimonies or to even come to Nogales if you ever have the opportunity.