By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]
The road to Lake Bunyonyi is a journey of paradox much like the beautiful East African nation of Uganda.
The phalanx of towns dotting the landscape from the capital city of Kampala to the Western region of Uganda (about a six-hour drive) are mostly gripped by poverty. But when you pay attention to the people along the way, they never stop moving; the children adorned in neat colorful uniforms march proudly to school, the adults of all ages go to work, every kind of work with their hands you can imagine. And of course the Boda Boda brigades, the men who commandeer the rickety motorbikes for profit stretch from Kampala all the way west. But, most of the Ugandans on the road to Lake Bunyonyi are subsistence farmers, growing just enough food, raising just enough livestock for their families to live.
Many live in dilapidated shantays, others live a little better. But, the earthly backdrop of their lives resembles a series of idyllic postcards of deep, rich greens, browns and reds beneath dramatic blue skies. During the rainy season, which we are in now, torrential rains bring everything to a standstill, then all of a sudden the rain stops the sun burst through and everything starts again.
The beauty of the land and the people as you travel the countryside of Uganda is undeniable. But, nothing can prepare the uninitiated for the ethereal Lake Bunyonyi.
Men in Hollywood spend millions of dollars to develop the most technologically advanced special effects to craft beautiful illusions for the big screen; nothing they conjure can fully replicate the beauty of this rugged region in the Western region of Kabale in Uganda.
As my driver and guide Godwin slowly navigated the winding mountain road, which leads to the Bunyonyi Rock Resort, the indigenous people go about their business; mining rock, herding goats, tending to their small plots of land. They may not have a lot of money, but every day they wake up, they step out into an African paradise I would argue is unsurpassed in natural beauty by no place on earth.
The people of Lake Bunyonyi, despite their arduous, lives force us to re-examine what poverty truly is because what they experience everyday is what rich men and women yearn for.
The gracious men and women who are the guardians of the Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort only enhanced my experience at this Eden-like place; their spirits are sweet and humble and they seem to realize the place they work is transcendent. So, they stay out of the way and provide gentle, impeccable hospitality.
For me, I could not fully wrap my mind and spirit around Lake Bunyonyi in a weekend; the beauty is incomprehensible. I’ll just have to ponder this place until I return.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.