Then it was over. I finished for the Busoga Trust at 3pm on Tuesday, and by 6pm I was in Kampala with my colleagues, sharing a beer. Next morning the sun rose with an intensity which seemed calculated to provoke me into staying. The kites keening over the roofs of Kampala and the hooting traffic, the boda drivers trying to persuade me I was a fool for walking anywhere- suddenly it hit home how much Uganda has become my home. Maybe not Kampala so much, but the country as a whole is a place where life moves at a gentle pace and people smile.
But it was all too late- the car was on its way to take me to the airport. I did the customs dance, showing that my bottle of honey was indeed just honey and not delicious explosives, taking off my shoes and clunking them down on the x-ray belt so that they wafted the fine dust of yesterday’s field work. We flew into Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi and I sat for eight hours before that final hop back to winter.
Now I’m in Wales, with fitful snowflakes drifting out of watery blue skies. The sun is shining, but it’s weak enough not to disturb the icing sugar dusting of frost which covers everything. Wushun, my parents’ cat, is wearing her best winter fur and looking twice her real size as she sits on the step and stares at the solid ground and the few remaining rotting apples. It’s time for jumpers, for scarves and heavy boots and short journeys from heated room to heated room.
But at least it’s pretty for now.
Thanks are due to Breno for her tireless (and I mean tireless) hard work, to Amanda for being the sort of boss who brings Chinese food when you’re working late, to Lydia and Jacinta for putting up with my utter ineptitude when it came to any sort of paperwork, to Majid, the sort of co-worker most people are never lucky enough to have, to Eva for the Kampala shows, to John Gattorn for giving me the chance to do all of these amazing things and to Fred Bunde and Justin Emedot for taking all of my ramblings and turning them into hard work. And thanks to every person I met and photographed, to every boda driver and bribeable traffic cop and to the rolex sellers who kept my stomach happy. I’ll be back in Uganda at the start of February, and this time I think it’s going to be a long stay.