Jesus in Uganda

We went out for a stroll in the completely darkened streets. In much of Africa, there are no street lights. But why do you need them when Africans have super night vision. Seriously, they don’t need any light to see! They’re all walking around like superheroes. We fumbled around, stepping cautiously over potholes and uneven paving stones, awkwardly using our phone lights to navigate. In the darkness, we nearly run into a woman. She calls out, “JESUS!”  My eyes grow accustomed to the night and I barely make out that she’s looking up at Simon like he is the saviour himself.

After a while she accepts that he is just a mzungu and it is not the second coming. We walk a bit further, a lady points over to us and exclaims out loud “JESUS!” I hear shock and surprise, along with a dollop of fearful anticipation in her voice.

Climbing up to Sipi Falls

It is clear that Jesus is on many people’s minds here and as we cycle through the country, we realise just how ingrained he is. On Saturdays, we’ve seen adults and children, dressed in their finest, going to church from morning until afternoon… They sing and praise, sing and praise and sing, sing, sing. They also dance and we’ve seen them napping. Well, who can blame them if you’re sitting through hours of a service? Now, I have a very different picture of what Jesus is supposed to look like but when they see Simon, with blue eyes and growing out his blonde hair and beard, their mind jumps to Jesus. Simon will just have to suck it up and get used to being popular!

Sipi Falls & Ugandan Kids

Sipi Falls: three waterfalls cascading down the mountainside, one of them a perfect line of 100 m in length. How could we miss that? But nothing in life comes free and to get there, we had to work for it. I mean, really work hard.

Sipi Falls is based at the foothills of Mt Elgon… So the climb up was as beautiful as it was steep! We had to sweat in the heat and humidity but we made it! Although we were able to cycle most of it, we needed to push the bike a lot. Not least with the help of hundreds of screaming kids along the way, who just don’t know what to do with themselves when they see us.

Mzungus, plus bicycles, this is crazyyyyy! Ahhhhh.. Cannot process!! Must run around like a maniac…

These kids’ enthusiasm injects so much of life into our legs. But still, we were both completely exhausted when we got to the top. We could see the clouds building and quickly organised a room with a view of a Sipi waterfall from our balcony. Just then, the heavens opened up and the rain pelted down, echoing off the tin roof. After the sky’s bad mood cleared, deep red and orange clouds shadowed the plains below.

Let’s get lost

Small paths to waterfalls

Behind a waterfall

The region is very fertile, and many people live and farm up here. Nearly every single piece of the land is owned and farmed, which was a bit sad to see. We love nature and keeping things as natural as possible, but I guess the high population density of Uganda also need to be fed.

That night, a very sweet, stray dog came by (yes, we get attached easily). We made friends and found out that she likes chin scratches, belly rubs, long walks and her favourite food is chapati. Well, at least she polished the yummy, greasy, fried dough off in two seconds.

Our new friend

On our ‘rest day’, we hiked to the three waterfalls without a guide. This is possible – but we still had to end up paying to enter people’s land and had an array of persistent unofficial ‘guides’ following us from time to time. But we like to do things on our own terms and the hike was much more of an adventure than it would have been if we were chaperoned.

We hiked through dense forest on tiny paths and over wooden bridges until we reached our first waterfall. It was quite impressive and we could even walk behind the waterfall, getting cooled off from its misty spray.

We did get a little bit lost along the way (OK, we got lost a lot) and people wondered what mzungus are doing off ‘the beaten track’. But they just did what all Ugandans love to do, laugh. At the second waterfall, some guys wanted even more money from us. A little argument pursued but we got through. After getting totally soaked at the waterfall, we found another exit out. But the joke was also on us because the rain poured down and this path lead us through – a lot – of mud. I mean we were slipping and sliding our way down the hill. We also went through people’s yards, their chickens running away from us. But since we were already soaked and muddy – we just enjoyed the ride.

Simon enjoying the view

The largest Sipi waterfall

We eventually emerged, covered in mud, and found refuge in a small tea place until the rain blew over. The hot chai warmed our shivering souls and we filled our belly with – you guessed it – beans and rice. The same dish we’ve been having almost every day since we crossed into Kenya… Yayyy…. But everything tastes good when you feel like your stomach will implode and we chowed it down.

It gave us some energy for the last hike, slipping on more mud on steep terrain, climbing down wooden ladders and over streams to reach the last waterfall with an impressive 100 m drop. We trekked back out of the valley, climbing over fences, rocky and passing a few thatched huts along the way. When we emerged, our legs were full of mud, our clothes were wet and we were ready for a shower. Our legs got a much needed rest that evening before we got back on the bikes and headed north – not west – because why not?

For more photos from Uganda, see here.

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