Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Romancing The Crocodile - I'm Sorry About The Safari!

(Firstly I'd like to thank EVERYBODY who wrote words to me regarding my last post. You made me cry for an hour. Jeez people are nice. Thank you xx)

I have a confession to make and I’m sorry if anybody is offended … but I am on a Ugandan safari.

Before I left Australia, I was asked by Lou from World Vision if I’d like to stay on a few more days and travel to Murchison Falls to do a safari. My first question was, “What if we get criticized for going straight after such a full-on trip to all the projects?” And she simply replied, “Eden, the world is just too beautiful not to see it.”

So I said yes. Then I changed my mind but by that time she’d already paid the deposit so I had to go. Still hadn’t cleared it with Dave yet and when I finally did, I broke down and told him the truth.

“Look, hon, do you mind if I do a safari? It’s not many times you get asked in your life if you’d like to come along and see some wild animals in Uganda and ….. it’s just, Lou said the world is too beautiful to not see it and Cam gave up and didn’t want to see the beauty in the world and if he IS hanging around then I get to take him on safari too. He can see the beauty too.”

I have this theory that one of Cams cells or atoms or some tiny part of him is stuck behind my retina and whatever I see, he sees. WEIRD. So the official World Vision trip finished up on Friday and Lou and I are here (completely on our own coin) staying in an amazing place seeing antelope, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, eagles.

Then we went on a boat trip yesterday ON THE RIVER NILE which blew my mind so badly until Lou said, “Eden, you do know that Egypt is part of Africa?” ARE YOU FOR REAL? I’m so dumb, missed a lot of facts at school because I went to NINE of them including four different high schools. Have vowed to never do that to my kids.

On the road to some projects last Friday we were all sitting down talking about how we’d just driven over the equator and we should stop for a photo. And I was all, so how many equators are there? There was a silence until Suzy said, “Eden are you actually really asking that question?”

I wasn’t even embarrassed. I'm smart in different ways, just said I got confused with the tropic of cancer and capricorn and what linked up to what and THEORETICALLY there could be an equator that goes transverse as well. I failed everything at school. Absolutely everything. Just couldn’t seem to learn facts properly - but man did I always top the entire year at every school I ever went to in creative writing.

                                           There's only on equator? LAME

So we’ve been at the safari park for two days and leave today back to Kampala for one night and THEN we leave the country. The safari has actually been a little boring, just saying. I can tick it off my bucket list but it was never on there to begin with ... frankly I’d still prefer cinnnabons in Hawaii. But I love Lou and knew it would be cool and it has been.

Before I left I said to Dave “Hon, I’ll be having 6am starts. It’s not even my kind of holiday.” And he goes “No it’s not - IT’S MINE!”

So your holiday was great hon!

The rooms and the food and the service is impeccable, and the boat trip yesterday (ON THE RIVER NILE) was pretty amazing. We saw hippos, so many hippos! And some crocodiles. The brochure promised us “crocodiles just romancing on the riverbanks” but that didn’t happen. Considering lodging a formal complaint.

Going from slums to luxury is odd and I’m never comfortable with fancy anyway. But I took FULL USE of the laundry service and was so grateful when I saw my previously filthy clothes all clean in a little basket like the Baby Moses floating down the river. My undies were IRONED. Now that’s love.

                                   Happy pants. Literally.

The wildlife has been amazing. Talking to Lou has been WONDERFUL. She’s originally from Northern Island and she’s full of stories. We all are. She sent me a link to how she cooks potatoes. “I don’t care how cliche it is … Australians can NOT cook potatoes properly.” I completely agreed! Told her Dave and I talk about it all the time - how DOES one cook the perfect potato?

Lou and I were sitting outside having coffee yesterday afternoon and a WARTHOG JUST AMBLED BY NEXT TO US. “Whaddup, ladies?”


We were in stitches laughing so hard. Also very glad it wasn’t a leopard. I’ve gotten to know her much better and found out her adorable quirks and foibles as well as her beauty and toughness and she’s a great travelling partner. I knew she would be. And if I was to fly back home straight after that gruelling World Vision trip bang head-on into domesticity? Would not have turned out so well. I was exhausted on every level. And these days if I don’t put my mental health first I really suffer. I’m even staying in Sydney for two nights and then going to a spoken-word poetry workshop on the Saturday and THEN driving home. Mummy’s cup runneth over!

                                 Do not feed or molest wild animals

I’m so, so lucky and grateful for it all. AND SELFISH. But you guys I haven’t had a break for … I can’t remember when. It’s been a hard slog, living in Grieftown for so long and I was so scared to come to Uganda but now I’m scared to go back home! I don’t want everything to be the same again! I’m glad the house we’re living in at the moment is only temporary because it’s such a sad house with SO many hard memories. I’ll be glad to leave it and start afresh. Starting fresh is good. And every time I do something in my life like start afresh or have an amazing or awful experience, I hope Cam is with me, behind my retina. Just the one eyeball is enough. To see what I see. It’s a comforting thought. I feel like I’ve absorbed him, who he was - his pain and his light and his beauty. Life is really hard. Really really. But not all the time.

                                   No I will not be in your photooooooooo

So if anyone is offended I’ve come on a safari please stand to the left and dial 1800-WHATEVER-BRO and for those who understand that I needed to recalibrate after seeing HUGELY impacting things that I haven’t finished writing about just yet - thank you.

                                   HIPPO KEY!

My brother used to call himself “the little engine that could.” So that’s what I decided I was yesterday on that boat on the river Nile looking for romancing crocodiles. I’m the little engine that could, now. For the both of us. I scooped some Nile water up in my hand and baptised myself on the forehead in Universes name Amen. Let’s keep doing this, Eden. Keep going in spite of everything. All new.

(Then I got that hand sanitiser out quicker than you can say hungry hungry hippos.)


It's my Maxs THIRTEENTH BIRTHDAY TODAY. Wow. Cannot wait to see his beard when I get back home. Got some surprises in store for him when he gets home from school today, with some help of some beautiful women. Oh this boy.


Letters to Home (Written before I left)

DAY EIGHT Dave Riley, one day years ago we were having this week-long fight and it just got so stupid and boring and you got so frustrated with me you just stopped and looked into my eyeballs and half-yelled “HON! I WOULD TAKE A BULLET FOR YOU.” And I knew you meant it. It’s taken me a long time, to accept your love. We’ve hung in there together after all this time when we could have walked away. But this love that we have …. it seems to come from another place. I often think about how you would take a bullet for me. And I want you to know that I would take a bullet for you straight back. I would. (But hopefully in the leg or arm.) xx 

DAY NINE Hey you guys so I’d be well and truly into this trip by now. It’s probably blown my mind in ways I can’t even imagine right now. How weird that somebody so broken and WEIRD as me can do such a thing? You know why I went? To tell other people stories, stories of people whose stories don’t get told much. There’s a whole world out there, and a lot of it is messed up. We need to always think of the good in life and in people, and we need to show care to strangers when we can. I hope my blog posts are doing this trip justice. I hope you’re all ok down there in Australia. It’s a beautiful country. But I think it could do better. I love you all so SO MUCH xxxx 

DAY TEN So I’ve probably cried about Uncle Cam over fifty times by now. I cry about him all the time. I cried just then, writing that sentence. This past year is the worst I’ve ever felt in my whole life and I am so sorry you’ve had to see your mum be so sad. I miss him so much I can’t stand it, I wished his life turned out differently, and I don’t want ANY of you kids to get to that level of despair and hopelessness that he felt. I don’t want you to ever feel so lonely that you can’t make it through anymore. I am always, ALWAYS here for you and so is your dad. Open up your hearts and love as much as you can, whenever you can. Life is hard but it’s also stupid so don’t take things so seriously. Be an idiot. Make good friends. Hang on. xx

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