As a writer, you pride yourself in the fact that you are able, on a higher level than the ordinary man, to put into words what exactly it is that you are feeling, what it is that you see, smell, hear, name it. Whether it is a terribly scrumptious heaped plate of spaghetti with a slightly orange tinge that tastes like ocean waves at sunset or a large tree with red and brown leaves that bends slightly to the right whenever the wind blows and has endless trails of tiny black insects harvesting sweet cold nectar up from its pale pink flowers down to its partially hidden roots...you get the picture. That was not the case with the writer’s retreat on Bulago Island over the Independence Day weekend.This retreat was organised by Jackee Batanda of SuccessSpark Brand and Nyana Kakooma of Sooo Many Stories. Don't let the fact that this was the first of it's kind fool you...
Imagine a big orange house, with large glass windows that cover almost fifty percent of the walls. Imagine that this house is on a cliff, overlooking the lake in every direction that you face. Imagine large spacious rooms with an old-fashioned feel and every bit of furniture made from carefully recycled material. Imagine sitting at a large dining table, with a wooden base and a heavy marble glass top the color of the ocean, and sipping on a cup of freshly ground coffee and some freshly baked date muffins.
Imagine your heart beating faster each and every time you look out your front door, because you cannot believe that such beauty still exists in Uganda. Imagine this happening thirty times a day, because that’s how often you absent-mindedly turn your face to the front door. Imagine being left speechless each and every one of these thirty times. Imagine being speechless, and yet you are also a writer.
Imagine absolute silence.
The kind where you can hear the wings of a butterfly flap. The kind where your mind is so clear, you are actually afraid it might be transparent.
Now imagine laughter; the now-you’re-home kind, the kind that starts from the bottom of your belly, comes out through your eyes and fills the room with warmth. The kind that makes you throw your head back and hold your stomach.
Imagine knowledge; the in-depth profound kind that opens you up to a whole new way of thinking. The kind that is tailor-made to fit you like a glove. You know those things you know but actually you don’t really know; this is where you find that out. Imagine learning the ancient secrets of the trade, sitting cross-legged on the floor, knee to knee with five or so people with similar interests. Imagine brain-storming at 8pm in the night, under an orangish yellow light, in a bedroom where the only sound you can hear is the chirping of crickets.
Imagine food! Your very own resident chef! Food of all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes. Imagine baby-bum soft and warm muffins, mouth watering desserts that you have only ever seen on Food network, a barbecue on the beach by a roaring fire, the aroma of which leaves you feeling dizzy, coupled with wine, and presents and books.
Imagine hugging the sun, imagine old fireplaces, a swimming pool with an out-door shower, night lights on the lake, reading autographed novels on beach beds, guided nature walks around the island. Imagine clear air that smells of…nothing.
I’m not one to be at a loss for words often, but this retreat left me speechless. It went over and beyond my greatest expectations. I gained knowledge, I made friends, I found peace and through it all, I was at home.