Yes, the water actually is this color. And it's warm! And yes, it is December!
On Lamu donkeys are the main mode of transport and transporting goods around the island.
Most recently, I have been involved in two important family functions with Lukman and his family. First, Lukman and his wife Josephine had their Introduction Ceremony, which is when the bride's family meets the groom's family and dowry is negotiated and paid. For this ceremony we had to travel to Kenya, as Josephine is Kenyan and her family still lives there. We started planning the ceremony in September, having weekly or bi-weekly family meetings to discuss the budget, raise money for the dowry, and generally organize everything. Then, on December 6th, we travelled with 50 of Lukman's friends, family, and colleagues to Eldoret, Kenya to "buy" his wife! Below is Lukman's brother (left), Lukman (center), and I (self explanatory) after the Introduction Ceremony. For formal wear that Ugandan men wear is a long dress called a kanzu with a coat over top, while women were the silly dress with big shoulders and huge sash that I have on, which is called a gomez.
Here is me before the ceremony preparing to carry part of the dowry in on my head, as is traditional for women to do.
The second family function that I attended recently was a funeral rites ceremony (kind of like a memorial ceremony) for Lukman's deceased grandfather and aunts. For this ceremony we travelled to the Eastern area of Uganda, to the Bugisu region where Lukman's mother is from. I travelled to the village on my own, Lukman having gone a day early. He said that when he arrived the first question he got from everyone was "Where is Nakayiwa (my Ugandan name)?!" Being so far from home and the comforts of friends and family it is hard to express how touched I am to have been fully embraced by this family to the extent that it is just assumed I will be with them at any important event. At this ceremony the family also gave me a name from the Bugisu tribe, as Nakayiwa is from the Buganda tribe. So I am now Nakayiwa Wabule Brett! They make a big deal out of names here as each belongs to a tribe, but also within that tribe to a specific clan--i actually met the head of the Wabule clan while I was at the ceremony! He was very excited to have a muzungu clan member! Below (left to right) is Lukman, a cousin, aunt Beatrice, and wife Josephine.
After the formal part of the ceremony, the gathering turned into a big party to drink locally brewed alcohol, called malwa. You drink it through a long straw with a sieve on the end, because it is chunky with the millet it is brewed using. People will sit ALL day drinking it, hence the gargantuan bucket.
Here are kids in the life skills club playing a team-building game with their teacher.
Here the children are drawing rainbows that tell about the things they like to do, their families, and their values.
Then, of course, we ate it. But we had to catch it first, and I'll be damned if those things aren't fast! But as you can see, we prevailed in the end--with a little help from some local children and my neighbor Daisy (pictured above).
Mama Brett (as everyone here called her throughout her stay) also got to meet my counterpart, Lukman, and his son, Rahman.
And she got to hold a million adorable babies, most of them not wearing any pants!
Aside from hanging around my place in Uganda we also went on a safari in Tanzania. AMAZING sights (Thanks Mom!!!). We went to Tarangire National Park, Ngorngoro Crater, and the Serengeti. It was very Ernest Hemingway. I'm also pretty sure National Geographic would hire me if they got the chance, just check out my vivid and action-packed nature photography skills.