Today we mooched around the local area. We strolled down the winding side roads, passed tea plantations and observed the community at work. In the markets the women scatter peanuts out to dry on white sheets, pummel maize with vigour and deftly cut up cassava with machetes. Babies hang off them, some bashful as we pass and others giggly and inquisitive. The red dust on the roads here engulfs us like a cloud of chilli powder whenever a boda boda or car passes. My blonde hair definitely has a rusty tinge to it now and I fear I will never be able to get the red stains out between my toes – permanent African henna.
Of course two single western women are a curiosity for the people here. Laura and I are apparently over the hill at the age of 26 – or that is what the kids would have us believe. The average age for marriage and having children is roughly 18 and, according to our new friends, we old has-beens haven’t a hope in hell of attracting a man now. Wherever we haul our ‘decrepit’ bodies around Bwindi we are surrounded by children who hover behind us on the dirt roads, chatter alongside, sheepishly hold our hands or thrust their drawings of gorillas in our faces … and ask us how we’ve got to this advanced age without being married.
Their English is pretty good, which is more than can be said for our attempt at the local dialect, Rushiga. So far we’ve picked up hi (agandi) and just grin like idiots when they reply and the communication stagnates. Perhaps we should learn Rushiga for: “Yes, I know we’re ancient but you’d be amazed; where we come from, people even have children in their 30s. And some women choose not to get married at all.”