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_High up in the mountains, surrounded by red coffee beans and purple bougainvillea, green-topped banana stalks stretch for miles.  The ruddy soil is rich and will grow anything that is stuck into it, as long as the plant doesn't get washed down to the valley in the rainy season.  The sun is burning down, the sky is relentlessly brilliant and there is no sign of water anywhere. 
John, Allegra, Barbara and I, along with Teacher Grace who does the translating, have walked up the mountain to see a little boy named Isaac and his sister, Evelyn.  By the time Isaac was 8 and his sister was 10, both parents were dead. The kids are now 14 and 16, and have taken care of each other over the years.  Isaac greets us, beaming, very happy that we have come. He runs off through the brush to get his sister who is at church, a few hills away.
Apparently we are quite a spectacle: . . .



 
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Here is our guest house midway up a rather steep hill
_Every morning I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00am.  This is done without the aid of technology due to nature's alarm clock: the faithful rooster.  Many local villagers keep chickens and have a rooster.  So every morning, before the sun rises, we hear the loud and faithful "cock-a-doodle-doo" of the many roosters surrounding us. Carolyn has usually been awake for hours, listening to the chanting or the drum beats through the night. I lie in bed and soon enough the sun pops up. Yes, it literally pops up.  Being on the equator, the sunrises and sunsets happen quickly.  Within a half hour of first light the sun shines brightly. 
    Basically, all the guests at the guest house are up by 7:15am.  During our stay, there were 7 guests (our family of 4, Sabia, Anna and Tom) along with Barbara, the owner/manager/head Big Boss Lady.  The first one up . . .



 
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Dawn from the front porch of the Guesthouse
_We are having an interesting time in Uganda - this is quite a trip!  We are living up in the mountains near the Kenya border.  No electricity, no running water, no toilet, no fridge, no car, no stores etc.  Shower from a bag of water hanging on a stick that Birch hooked up.  Birch and John, along with a local teen named Albert, carry the water over a kilometre straight up hill from a river below (every drop we drink, cook or wash with).  Propane stove and a fire for cooking.  However, solar-powered batteries for the laptop and a cell-phone tower nearby help tremendously.  Amazing what we can get used to living without...  
We are in a house of volunteers: Barbara (65 year old Canadian who runs everything), plus university students doing a GAP year and a Peace Corps worker - and Birch is hanging out with them. They are having . . .


 
Birch is taller than I am! Here he is at the top of a small mountain with Pushkar, Rajastan, far below.   Today I am grateful for $2 all-he-can-eat buffets...
 
_     A good friend has asked whether I love India  - I have great memories of when I first came here (1984) - at that time, I vowed to come back for 6 months to see all the places I never got to.  Our guide had organized everything through his company Canadian Himalayan Adventures - we stayed . . .
 
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_In the eerie darkness, we heard more than saw the straw basket hit the dank floor with a loud whump!  A menacing hissing sound came from within  - a low rumbling hhhaaaarrghhh.  Allegra screamed and clutched my arm.  The drunken man squatting on the floor laughed and slid off the top.  A second large man entered, blocking the doorway, the only exit from this creepy back-alley house.  In the beam from the henchman's headlamp,  we watched as an enormous cobra uncoiled itself and stood ramrod straight, then darted at the drunkard, striking and missing.  The only sounds were the hissing and Allegra's sobs.  Somehow it felt more like a hostage-taking than the "children's magic show" we had been promised.  We owed them money, I didn't know how much, and we weren't leaving until we had paid, that much was clear.
It had started off as a really. . .