If your everyday life is rusty red and dusty gray, you are missing something.
It was my 11th week in Kampala and my shirt, once blue, had already turned red and gray from the dust. Where were all the other colours of this country?
If you google Uganda, you will see beautiful landscapes of blue, green and yellow. So, had I become colour-blind or had all the colours disappeared?
I was 5,500km away from home and now had only six days left in Uganda, having finished my internship at The Observer. But I was stuck in Kampala because of a story. That annoyed me. Time was ticking. But in the end, it was this story that would bring me to the colours.
I wanted to report about the work of Uganda wildlife rangers for a German magazine, Zeit Leo, but it took me ages to get the permission I needed to visit Queen Elizabeth national park and interview the rangers.
I felt stuck in a state of déjà vu: after breakfast I would go to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) only to hear, “Not yet ready”, then I would go for lunch, come back in the afternoon to be told, “Come back tomorrow.” Every day. For three weeks.
Well, maybe I had a lesson to learn; a Ugandan friend told me to “be positive”. Perhaps the red and gray had hit my mood too hard. Now, with only six days to go, it was my last chance. I packed my backpack, went to UWA and finally secured the permission. I could get out of Kampala!
I called my driver and a photographer, and within two hours, we were heading west, past Bulenga, Mityana, Kitenga, Kakabara… and with every village the colours came back more and more.
It was only one colour at first: green. So many green hills! At one point we passed a wooden shack standing in the midst of a green field, surrounded by lush green trees. That place felt like home.
It reminded me of the meadows in front of deep forests, the backdrop of the house I live in in Germany. And after six and a half hours, another colour: the yellow savannah of Queen Elizabeth national park. What amazing nature!
Finally, I got to the place where Simba strolls around with Timon and Pumba, and I actually saw Pumba! Well, at least his brother; a wild boar was walking in front of our vehicle as we arrived at the accommodation late at night.
Later, I think it was the grunting of a hippo that tore me out of my sleep. But it was already dawn; so, I stood up and found another colour: deep blue. I had never noticed the beautiful colour of the sky in the early morning hours. But it made me happy.
And that happiness would last; when we drove into the park, a grey skin appeared between green leaves. An elephant. Two elephants. A whole family of elephants marching in the early morning through the savannah.
I know no words that could describe the feeling that I had at this moment. But after that, I finally felt I could go home. I was ready for that long flight back.
Hours later, the white tops of the alps told me I would soon be home, and of course the temperature when I got out of the plane: 10 degrees. Freezing cold.
I had forgotten how cold April could be in Germany.
But at least now I know why everybody says that nobody comes only once to Uganda. There are mainly two reasons: one, you don’t need a scarf and a warm hat there.
And second, the beautiful colours I have seen there.