We are en route to Mbarara in Western Uganda. In front of us, a small truck lugs long skinny tree trunks. As we pass through a town, I see small buildings advertising Airtel, Africel, and MTN. Plantain bunches and pineapples are sold in markets. Further on, gates and doors are sold in large lots. A bicycle struggles uphill and the boda bodas swerve through cars. Women have set up small stoves and cook meals on the side of the road. Umbrellas provide shade, although today clouds roll over the blue sky, keeping the hills cool.
Mosques and churches are interspersed between homes, markets, and stores. Gas stations line the roads selling gasoline, petroleum, and kerosene. A woman waits on the side of the road for a taxi going her direction. Another woman carries grocery bags from market to her car. A businessman stands outside of a building on his phone, looking serious. It’s only 10am, so I don’t see many children, but by 4pm they will flood the streets, playing with each other on their walk home. Large billboards, this one advertising Supreme Maize and Wheat, wave us onwards.
We speed up, leaving town, and are surrounded by dense greenery and red clay. The roofs of homes in the distance are also red, like the earth. There are tall skinny trees and small banana trees. We go up and down small hills, passing clothes drying on the line. Telephone wires follow the road, keeping everyone connected.
What were you expecting before you got here, Hannah? What a strange question. Everywhere I stand on the sphere, my feet are on the ground and gravity keeps me down. Earth is earth. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and people go about their day not noticing the bus of American students rolling through their town.