“Why are you silent?” Tony asked. “You aren’t talking.”
“I guess I just don’t have anything intelligent to say right now,” I told him.
Actually, the reason I was silent – and I admit this is not like me – is that I was lost in thought. Thoughts and memories on the morning of my last day in Uganda.
Tony was driving, as he had been doing for most of the time I was in Uganda. I was sitting in the passenger seat, as I had also been doing for most of the time. It was the best seat in the van for taking photos, which was one of my favorite activities.
In addition to driving, Tony had been giving me language lessons. They started early in the trip when he asked me one day, “Do you know how to say ‘thank you’ in our language?” Actually, I thought I just had, but apparently my pronunciation wasn’t quite on the mark. From then on, Tony was a patient and accommodating teacher as I asked him how to say different words and phrases in the Luganda language, and then wrote them down in my journal. The only way I could really learn them was to first hear the words, then see them written out, and then write down the phonetic spelling. After that it was just a matter of practicing and repeating them over and over.
I had mixed feelings as we drove along on that last morning in Uganda. I had been in the country almost three weeks – the longest of any of my trips there – and had been away from home for almost four. I was eager to get back to my home and husband, but sorry to leave the country I now think of as my second home.
Some of the projects we were working on in Uganda were nearing completion, but others were just getting started. In some ways, I felt a sense of accomplishment. In other ways, I felt as though I were leaving unfinished business. I also felt – as I always do when it’s time to leave – that I was saying goodbye to dear friends, which was all the more difficult because I had no way of knowing when I’d see them again. It was also difficult saying goodbye to people I had only recently met, but who had already started to become my friends.
These were just some of the thoughts and feelings going through my mind and heart that last morning in Uganda. I didn’t have the words to adequately express them all when Tony asked why I was so quiet, but maybe I will by my next trip, whenever that will be. Until then, I’ll simply treasure the memories.
June 22, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018
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