The marketplace is full of the sound of barter and the smell of fish. I run my hand over a fresh pineapple, "this one please," I say, adding it to my overflowing bag, handing over 3,500 Ugandan Shillings (50 cents) to the breastfeeding mother at her fruit stand.
Thunder and lightening crash around me as my boda (a moterbike used for transport in Uganda) driver flies over potholes and bumpy, red dirt roads -- racing the storm home from the marketplace to my little apartment on the outside of town.
I watch the sky open up from the comfort of my living room for an hour, snacking on the freshest pineapple I've ever had.
When the storm breaks I head outside to deliver rice, beans, and sugar to the kindhearted, beautiful family living in a small hut no larger than a garden shed just outside and around the corner from my front door.
We dance all afternoon. It's happy. I'm happy. When I'm done rocking and cuddling each of their nine littles, I walk back home and strategize for The Lucy Project. I spend hours and hours preparing my soul project, an international documentary on the global orphan crisis.
My whole body hurts from the hustle of the day when I fall into my single, five-inch thick mattress. I pull the thin blanket up to my chin and smile a raw, authentic smile that I'm cozy in a bed, unlike so many around me.
The entire neighborhood of wild dogs decide to have a howl-off at 1:26am. I pull the window open and listen to the brawl until all is silent and the crickets commence in their nightly song.
The rain starts again at 3:12am. Light rain turns into a storm and the storm turns into thirty-eight minutes of the sky opening up to pour truckloads and truckloads of water over the fertile, green Ugandan land.
At 4:09am I am mopping rain water up off of my bedroom floor -- that window leak surely has a mind of its own.
I sleep until 6:30am when I wake with the sound of the rooster crow, the neighborhood children, and my next door neighbor who likes to play the newest Justin Bieber album on repeat at bizarre hours of the day.
This is my happy. These daily moments are so special to me. Working in the village conditions of Africa is easily one of the most challenging experiences I've ever had, but my day to day life here is everything I've ever wanted and nothing I'd ever replace. I am at peace here with things that I would never be at peace with in the first world. I am amused by howling dogs and raging storms. I am laughing as I try to shoo mosquitos and wasps out the door. I am content with our home being open for sweet babies without present mamas to come and rest on our sofa. I am happy to rock little one's night terrors away at all hours of the night.
Uganda is full of tragedy, full of trial and struggle that line the streets of poverty, but it is alive with joy and love. It is alive with the kindness and compassion of the common people. Uganda has my heart because Uganda is a part of Africa and Africa stole my heart before I ever set foot on its soil.
I beg these days to slow down. These two-years of world travel as I capture the heart of the orphan crisis with my camera -- I will them to move slowly, though they have proven to blink by. I know that my day to day life is setting the stage for some of my fondest memories.
I don't want to forget these moments. I don't want the ugly side of the job I do to collapse all of this beauty and I never, ever want to forget that the constant exposure of the ugly, tragic, heavy tasks that I'm faced with set the stage for my newfound appreciation for a five-inch thick mattress and a floor to mop.
I'm so lucky I could cry. I'm so lucky I do cry.
There's so much to be said and I have a heavier, darker post in the works but tonight I am grateful and I needed to let that gratitude overflow into words that I can frame in my mind forever.