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Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Years in Fort Portal

We were invited to join two other MAF families for a few days over New Years at a little, German-run bed and breakfast farm called Kluge's, out near Fort Portal.  Thanks to a few special gifts from some individuals who required us to use the money "for something fun for our family" we were able to make it happen.  It was just what we needed!  Below is a picture of the lane as you drive into the farm.  It felt like we were entering a different country, with the lush flower gardens, wood picket fences, and Holstein cows happily grazing in the pastures around the farm.

The Fort Portal area is very beautiful.  The rolling hills in the area are covered in endless tea plantations.  It doesn't look like anything that I would have had in my mental stereotypical images of East Africa.  It actually reminds me a lot of parts of Java, Indonesia (Bandung, Bogor, etc.) where we spent a year studying the language way back when. 

Kluge's Guest Farm is located in Western Uganda, not too far from the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains, along the border between Uganda and East DRC.  You can see them off in the distance in the picture below, as the sun sets behind them over Congo.  The Mountains of the Moon, as they are sometimes referred to, are the highest mountain chain in all of Africa.  There are a two or three individual mountain peaks in Tanzania and Kenya that are a bit taller, but most of the highest peaks in Africa (16,000' and higher) are found in the Rwenzoris.  They contain year-around snow and glaciers.  It's said that some of the most amazing flora in the world can be found on the climb up the Rwenzoris.  I've seen pictures, and it's amazing!  Someday I'd love to climb them, but there are parts that require technical climbing, and the government requires a guide...which is very expensive.  So for now I'll just have to enjoy the view from a distance. :-)

The farm is surrounded by pastures and woods.  The woods have hiking trails, and we're a hiking-type family.  But who wants to simply walk when you can swing and jump from a nearby vine?

Everywhere around the farm there were flower gardens.  These shots were taken a few feet in front of the porch where we were staying.

And if you took the time to look a bit closer, there were lots of little critters around.  This is an itty bitty tree frog of some kind.

If you don't believe me about how tiny he/she is, check this out... I took my watch off and coaxed the little frog onto it so I could show you.  Tiny hugh?  And cute!

About the same size, but not so cute...

The breakfast part of the "bed and breakfast" was a huge treat for the kids--for all of us really!  The food was all from the farm and gardens and was home-cooked and very tasty!

Aside from the great food and fellowship, we also enjoyed simply relaxing, reading, playing board games, and some big, competitive capture-the-flag nerf wars.  Adults vs. kids.  That was a blast!

The kids enjoyed the pools (they were making waves in the kiddy pool below, but there was another pool beside this one that was a bit bigger).

And we enjoyed some walks through the beautiful, clean, litter-free forests!

After a very busy, often stressful first 10-months in our new home country, a few days of rest and soaking up God's beautiful creation was just what we needed!  On New Years Eve, Kluge's set up some tables and chairs in the garden and did a barbecue for the guests.  It was such a beautiful evening!

As usual, Gift was loved by all--full of laughs and smiles and joy.  He was helping to clear the napkins from the tables when he figured out that it was a lot more fun to play peek-a-boo with Simon.  He was gut-laughing each time he'd be scared by Simon's sudden appearance, and of course we were all laughing too.

At midnight--yep, most of us actually made it to midnight for the first time in who knows how many years--they even set off a few fireworks.  The sky was brilliantly clear and the 3/4 moon was shining brightly.  You can even see some stars in the picture below if you look closely.  What a fun way to welcome in the new year!

And here's a closer shot of the moon, properly exposed.  I love looking at the moon and stars!  It makes me feels so small and insignificant, and in awe of our Creator! 

Well, that's what we did for New Years.  Thanks to you guys who gave us the gifts that "forced" us to do something fun as a family.  We came back refreshed and ready for the new year.


Jennifer said...

Looks like a beautiful place and a wonderful time. Loved the pictures!

Arielle said...

That looks just like Orion and Taurus the bull in the shot with the fireworks. Didn't realize Uganda and Oregon shared their view of the stars!
Glad you had a good mini-vacation. Blessings to you all this year!