We are in the cutest little town I have ever come across. Smaller than my town, but there are tons of people and I have no Idea where they come from. I believe that they all live up in the mountains in their adobe houses and come down to the town to by supplies. Our first night in Bwindi, the locals where having a party for a surgeon that was helping out at the local hospital for many months and was finally leaving. We were invited to go as well and at first, it was just us mzungus (white people/english speaker in swahili) dancing, but after a while, a lot, no, a ton of African people came from nowhere and started dancing with us. It was super fun. We got to listen to how Africans DJ. haha! They put a lot of siren sounds in and of course, listened to a lot of Justin Bieber. Hehe! I am glad we left when we did because there was this one guy who kept dancing closer and closer to me.I was just dancing to enjoy the night and thought, eh, why not? But then it started becoming one of those awkward moments when the guy keeps coming closer, but you just keep backing up into people. It was a fun night! And me and another student named Sarah got this young girls to dance with us. They taught us dance moves and we taught them. I enjoyed my time our first night in Bwindi. The next day, we went to church, but they didn't have any LDS meetings there, so we went to a catholic church. The first one we went to was at the hospital. It was very interesting to see how the catholics do their reunions. They also sang songs in the local language which none of us understood, but tried to sing along anyways. I think the weirdest part for all of us when they partook of the communion (bread and wine) because none of us drink wine, but luckily, you only went up to partake if you wanted to, so we weren't forced into it or disrespectful. After breakfast, most of us went to another catholic church, but this one was different. They had a ceremony of thanks giving where they had multiple groups that came up to the front and started dancing as a way of giving thanks to whatever they were giving thanks to at that time. They had the little children come up first and they were just the cutest jumping up and down singing along to the song. After every dance, the pastor would do a blessing on them. I forgot to mention that the whole reunion was in a different language, so we didn't understand, but some men behind me were explaining what was going on. I was very grateful for that. And I also sat up in the first row where the kids and teens and adults were dancing, so on one of the dances, I joined them. I felt awkward, but all the people around me were very helpful and showed me how it was done. For every dance they had people bring up offerings, some even brought bananas, a chicken, and a goat. At the end, they had an auction for all the items that were not money. After the ceremonies were over, we started to take some pictures and all the kids came running over wanting to be in them. They thought It was the coolest thing that we could do selfies. They loved looking at themselves. It was just me and another student Brian a that stayed so we could talk to the people and get to know then better. It was a good afternoon. Then before dinner, we went to go see a family of orphans who had lost both their parents and the older brother was taking care of them. Working all day to support his younger siblings. Many of us gave them school supplies, candy and even donated money to them. It was great to see their faces of gratitude afterwards. All the other villagers who lived around there where watching us just staring at us. I can't tell you how many times we have been stared down because of our white skin.
The next day, we went for a hike in the Impenetrable Forest. It didn't seem that Impenetrable because we were walking along already made paths. We were hiking to go a waterfall and it was just a beautiful sight. It looked like a waterfall you could ride a raft down, except of all the sharp rocks coming out from it. There were many vines hanging down where the river after the falls was heading and it looked like a scene from Tarazan. We also went swimming at the bottom of another falls that wasn't quite as big and crashing down water at high speeds and pressures. It was cool because we got to go swimming in a river in Africa! Although it was freezing cold and started to pour down rain once we got out. It was a great experience. Then we went to play volleyball with the people working at the hospital. People mostly watched us play then actually played themselves. It was fun, but I got sand splinters and had Kaelani take them out for me. It was super weird that it was sand that was stuck in my hand.
Also that same day, there was a monkey hanging around our dinning house and everyone started to take pictures and videos of it. I even took a lot of selfies with it because it was close. One kid thought it would be cool to have the monkey give him a high five, and it actually did. Turns out it just wanted it's ring. So I decided to try too. And the same thing happened. It started to grab at my ring and even turned my hand over and over again to figure out how to get to it. It was so cute. I have never been so close to a wild monkey before, let alone have it touch me. Probably wasn't the smartest thing, but it wasn't hurting anyone. I definitely had to wash my hands very well afterwards.
Our last day in Bwindi was a hike up to see the Batwa people who were kicked out of the Impenetrable Forest once they made it into a National Park. It was kind of sad to hear, but they got relocated by the government to a different area where they could harvest food, so they weren't homeless afterwards. The hike was called the Batwa experience where the Batwa people kept their traditions alive. It was all just set up for show, but that was how the Batwa people used to live before they where displaced. They showed us how they would use the bark as clothes, how they would hunt animals (with the different types of traps they used), the way they made fire and how they used it to smoke out the honey bees in order to collect the honey. They also performed for us using drums and the people sang and danced for us in the way the Batwa people do. It was just fun to see the way they used to live. They lived in very small huts, but could fit about 5-7 people in it while we could only fit 2 of us. haha!
Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Bwindi getting to know the people and just having a fun time. We didn't get to see any gorillas though and Bwindi is known for it's gorillas. We even stayed at the gorilla house where they sometimes pass by, but none of them did. :(