Well, I had heard a "zoo" was coming to town, but it also happened to be the day visitors came to visit.
Kylie chose to go to the airport with Doug, and Jack drove Karis, Caleb, and me to the "zoo."
There was a large area marked off with canvas right along the main road in town. Usually people play pick-up games of football (soccer) here, but this particular week, it was more like a fairgrounds.
We had to pay the equivalent of $.50 to enter into the marked off area, and then another $.50 to see the animals.
I don't know what I expected it to be, but I should have thought "fair ground petting zoo," but I didn't. When will I ever learn that I live in Africa.
This is what we saw as we entered the entrance to the "zoo."
I paid for Jack to come in with us. Sadly, most of the nationals have never seen some of the animals that are in the game parks around the continent.
He was excited.
The first animal was an ostrich. He really wanted a picture with it, but it kept pacing and pacing. He was always trying to see where it was so we could get a good picture.
My kids grew tired of waiting, but Karis came back later and Jack got her to pose with him.
He didn't recognize his country's national bird: the Crested Crane. I told him it was on the flag, and then he remembered.
Jack then hurried off with a group of guys to see the lionness. He wanted his picture made with all the animals. When I go to Kampala, I'll print them for him. He will have many stories to tell all of his piki driver friends.
For me, these can't compare to the wonders we have seen in the national parks, but I loved watching all the grown men act like small children do on their first trip to the zoo.
All these men were gathered around the lion's cage, watching her and taking pictures with their cell phones. You can see my two kids were bored already and moving on.
Jack broke the barrier we were supposed to stay behind (and invited Karis to do so as well). There was no one really watching, so Jack decided to pet the ring-tailed monkey.
He wanted me to see that one hand only had four fingers. He was very concerned for it.
He kept going back to the ostrich, saying, "Ah! His neck is VERY long. VERY long. His legs are VERY big. Ah! He is so BIG."
More time staring at the ostrich.
I tried to put myself in his shoes. Can you? Do you remember your first trip to the zoo? Or were we all too young to appreciate the wonders of God's creation at that young age?
These are two more "animals" that got the nationals' attention. These two pythons (can you see both of their heads) were in a box. When enough people arrive, one of the zoo workers takes the smaller one out and lets people pay to have their picture taken with it. We didn't stick around for that.
When I got back to the house, and I saw Patrick there, I couldn't stand it that he hadn't seen the animals and really couldn't afford to go. So I gave him and Alice money to get into the grounds and into see the animals. I REALLY wanted to go and take pictures of them, but I needed to be with the visitors.
I wish I had a recording of them when they returned. They were speaking in elevated tones and with such excitement about what they saw. That was good for me to see and hear. The zoo was a bit of a let down for me, but for them, it was the chance-of-a-lifetime, and again, perspective makes a HUGE difference. Alice "touched" the python and paid her own $.50 to get a picture of her doing it. Patrick said he didn't get near the reptile, but he did act out the ostrich's actions for me, and it delighted my heart to see it.
That evening, when Jeremiah arrived to work, I gave him money, too, so he could go the next day. I told him I was sorry but I couldn't go and take pictures of him.
The next day (his off day), he showed up across the fence at the neighbors. He told me that he was going to go with the next door neighbor's watchman, Geoffrey.
Geoffrey has a camera and takes pictures at baptisms and weddings.
So, I went and gave money for Geoffrey to get in. It was contagious.
Every time I heard a national tell me his or her story about the animals, it excited me. I wanted all of Arua to experience the wonders of God's creation. I felt like walking down the street and just handing everyone $1.00 to go see the animals. These grown-ups going to see animals for the first time blessed my heart.
After WAY too long seeing thirteen animals...did I mention there were only THIRTEEN animals there?
Ostrich, 2 Serval, 2 Pythons, Uganda Cob, Turtle, Crested Crane, Ring-tailed Monkey, Lion, Grey Owl, and 2 Parrots
After WAY too long seeing thirteen animals, we headed out to find some water to drink.
As we were drinking our lukewarm water bottles, I saw this.
It looks like three days into the "fair" action, they decided to put up a ride.
Can you see the piles of tin and lumber in the foreground?
Let's just say, there is NO way anyone in my family is riding on that.