My flight leaves at 3:40 am so I get a hotel room near the airport for a few hours. We’ve driven 8 and a half hours from Kasese, I’m still fragile from the vicious food poisoning yesterday. I lie quietly in the dark, reading on my iPad.
Something keeps tickling me. There are dozens of tiny ants in the bed. I sweep them off me and change beds. Dogs bark endlessly outside my window. If I brought Kakwese home, she wouldn’t bark.
I shower, gazing at my aching stomach. 18 hours of flying ahead. I drag my bags down three flights of stairs, thump crash. The desk clerk jumps up to help me on the last four steps.
He tries to call the driver for me but his phone is blocked. Like mine. The government passed a law that everyone must register their SIM card with their national identity number. People have to travel to their home villages to wait in line for days to get IDs. I registered my phone with Gabriel’s ID but it stopped working anyway.
While we wait, he shows me what he’s watching on YouTube. A preacher who seems to be causing people to drop to the ground and writhe. “This is the best pastor in East Africa. He prayed for me to get a job, and I did.”
“Why Michigan and Oregon?”
“The first man who gave me an American dollar was from Michigan. It is such a good place.”
“The Oregon Ducks. It’s all about the Oregon Ducks! The first time I saw them, I thought, how can a person be a duck?! I pray to get to Portland before I die.”
The driver arrives and we make our way through the still warm dark to Entebbe. He straddles the line on the road. His breath fills the car and he complains about the cost of school fees, of sugar, asks me if I’m married.
We navigate the waves of security, drag my bags up the stairs. I keep thinking I feel ants on me. In the airport, I find one, then another, then another, running across my arms.