During our visit in Uganda, we took a day and drove five hours with Rose & Fitzgerald and Hazel & Pine from Kampala to the Rwenzori Mountains, most of it on dirt roads through the jungle. We made an adventure out of it, filled with Nile specials on the side of the road and old-school rock music on the jam box. It was one of those perfect days - the scenery, the music, the company, and most of all, the end destination.
When we finally arrived at this mountain village, lush greenery and radiant women surrounded us. The women welcomed us with open arms, inviting us to come sit with them on their traditional mats as they proudly showed us their work. Many of the baskets took months to complete, and when you hear about each step – from gathering the palm and banana leaves, to hand-dying the colors, to weaving each coil – you can understand why.
Even though the day was about learning, the tonality was anything but serious. We took plenty of breaks to stop and laugh together; and boy, did our group give them quite a few reasons to laugh. For one, the name “Carly” is about as ridiculous as it gets. After all, what IS a Carly? They were also thoroughly amused by our lack of basket-balancing skills and questionable dance moves. Speaking of, we ended the day with a full-on dance party, which was definitely something to laugh about, for everyone involved.
It was a day for the books. Yes, for the beautiful road trip and scenery – but more for the beautiful souls we met at the end of the journey. These women have such a joy about them. While they don't have much, they do have a such a deep appreciation for life's simple and most meaningful pleasures -- from the land that provides resources for their craft to the the unspoken connection that can come from shared laughter (and dancing).