Things instantly improved following the rainy bus ride from Kampala. The clouds cleared and I moved up in the world, dreaming anti-malarial dreams on a twin bed at Hotel Kakanyero instead of Kate's pygmy African couch.
Immediately following breakfast on Wednesday morning, we walked the short distance to Lucy's market stall. After lots of uncontrollable laughter, smiles and hugs, Lucy and the girls cleared out a seat for us on a bench in the stall, which now seems unbelievably crowded. The stall itself is part of a larger, permanent structure – a sort of mini-shopping center with 10 ft. by 10 ft. stalls. It has two huge metal doors that open up onto a small concrete pad and a bit of a porch constructed with wood, woven mats and corrugated metal sheets. The path into the market and between the stalls also serves as a sort of drainage ditch – an uneven red riverbed winding through the market and collecting cast off fabric scraps, remnants of lunch and dirty dishwater.
Inside Lucy's stall, tons of un-labeled lunch bags hang in bunches from the ceiling. The walls are covered with fabrics for sale and stock posters of traditional African clothing. There are so many sewing machines that we can barely move around. Every surface is covered with fabrics, scissors, scraps, thread and scraps of paper with designs and measurements.
We sat down and met the new girls working with Lucy (there are two, Sarah and Monica), and unpacked our bag of samples and goodies: bananas (during a bus window transaction, we accidentally bought two full bunches instead of two single bananas), several One Mango Tree t-shirts (photos all around – thanks Mom!), and lots of samples for new products (an over-sized tote, a reversible sling shoulder bag, a headband, a mini-tissue holder, and tiny stuffed animals). After making orders with the fabrics I purchased at Mukwano Arcade in Kampala, Kate and I ventured out into the market to see what Gulu's tailors had to offer (no details here, you'll have to wait to see the new patterns – except I will say that there are Swahili Virgin Mary aprons and oven mitts coming your way).
After another hour of haggling and buying rainbows (and miles) of liner fabric from Mr. A. O. Latigo, Textiles, I headed to the internet café to catch the wave of morning emails from the other side of the Earth.My gmail loaded like a sea slug…basic HTML version? Yes…and then there it was – the announcement that "Growing One Mango Tree in Northern Uganda" had won the Davis Project for Peace grant. And that kind of day is why I am convinced that Gulu loves me (and man do I love the sh** out of Gulu).