You could find it halfway between Kampala (the capital and our home), and Jinja, the famed source of the Nile: Ssezibwa Falls, a lovely little waterfall and an easy day-trip out of town. So Christmas morning after the kids had opened presents, we bundled children and dog into the car and sauntered out of town to check it out.
Turning off the highway, we followed a dirt track through fields of sugar cane, down across an irrigation channel, and further down into a little forest, a grove of Eucalyptus and hardwoods, a glade I suppose. And we saw it. What a gorgeous waterfall. The water appeared out of nowhere, rounding a last-minute bend in the river. And then it dropped from about 100 feet, churned in a fast spinning pool, and poured forth in a stream that immediately divided to swallow both sides of a little island. The two streams rejoined a few dozen meters afterwards in a shady, little forested spot, and then disappeared out of sight as it headed down to Lake Victoria.
Other families began to appear before long: Africans and Indians, some with elaborate picnic lunches. Everyone was friendly and respectful. We tramped around a bit, then followed the trail up across a granite boulder field to the top of the falls, took some pictures, and headed home, feeling relaxed and carefree.
That feeling of pleasure made it so much worse when we returned home to find our gate lock forced open, the bars on the windows bashed in, and our house burglarized. The thieves had ransacked our every possession (apparently in leisure), and taken basically everything of traditional value in Africa: electronics, headphones, jewelry. Adding insult to injury, they snatched my backpack to carry it in. They took our wedding rings, a couple of broken wristwatches, rifled through our underwear, and bagged some old computers.
I don't think the loss of our stuff mattered to us that much. But the intrusion left us feeling shattered. We never slept well again. The irony was, none of it really mattered. We had been safe the entire time. Even our dog had traveled with us (sparing him the blow of a machete, probably). The children's gifts were in the car was us. We'd lost some possessions, but nothing of much value.
A few weeks later we decided to throw in the towel. My job imploded, our decade-long stay in Africa was clearly at an end. It was time to stay home. What did we bring home with us? Basically nothing: what was left after the robbery we gave away or sold. And we returned home to start over.
They never found the burglars, but they never really looked either. Again we were reminded that in Africa, robbing White people doesn't really count. A year later, it was hard to even remember what we even left behind. In the grand scheme of things, what you carry with you has no importance, and what you lose means nothing: if you are together, and healthy, and safe, that's all that matters.
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