Leisure/Travel

Six days on Rwanda's roads

I recently spent six days traveling the Northwest corner of Rwanda. My brain has not yet processed the amazing, frustrating, enlightening adventures of the week. And, that makes writing about it difficult.

After my Internet-less efforts to write a blog post produced nothing but scribbled nonsense in a notepad, I decided to embrace the chaos. Truthfully, the need to process Rwanda has been an integral part of my life in Rwanda. So, I have summarized my trip in the best way my disheveled brain knows how: to describe the random, beautiful chaos of my week by stating the random simple events and emotions that filled my days.

In the past six days I…

Learned how to shoot a bow and arrow.  Walked through a thunderstorm (Rwanda has more lightning strikes than any country).  Road passenger while a friend drove a Jeep Liberty down the front steps of a hotel (the steps looked like a ramp).  Met a medicine man.  Bargained one night in a presidential suite for $13 more than the cheapest hotel room in town.  Made cups by cutting a plastic water bottle in half with a pocket knife.  Ate a breakfast covered in flies.  Learned to grind flour with two rocks.  Reached my limit with being told all mzungus have money.  Made new friends.  Got robbed…

Rode a bus around unprotected hillsides in the dark.  Saved myself from falling off a moto with my leg.  Drank gin and mango juice in a house on a hill.  Waited for a promised dinner for seven hours before starving myself to sleep.  Hated Rwanda.  Walked at midnight next to volcanoes illuminated by the bright stars and moon.  Peed in unfavorable conditions.  Got nauseous on a bus.  Came three feet away from hitting a child with a Jeep.  Killed a mosquito with my eyelashes.   Slept in a tent on a beach.  Took a hot shower.  Rode a moto along the breathtaking coast of Lake Kivu.  Stayed at a hotel owned by nuns…

Slept in a bamboo hut.   Read a book in a gazebo by the lake.  Pet a two-day-old litter of kittens.  Drank a large Primus beer at 11:00am because I needed a break from walking down the street.  Rode a moto over a wet, muddy road closed to all other vehicles.  Visited Rwanda’s largest orphanage.  Ate a peaceful dinner in Gisenyi, Rwanda while staring at the devastating city of Goma, Congo.  Pet a rabbit.  Felt exhausted.   Played African drums with local drummers.  Made fun of a village child for making fun of me.  Slept three to a king-sized bed (I got the middle).  Waited for a friend to make a “quick” bank run that lasted two hours.  Met a real-life human version of Rafiki from The Lion King…

Listened to live African music.  Was harassed by a drunk priest who threatened to kick us out of Rwanda.   Rode a bus through dense rain and fog.  Held a three-week-old Rwandan baby.  Stoked two outdoor fires.  Watched Nyiragongo Volcano (one of the most active volcanoes on the planet) spark at night.  Bathed with a basin of water.  Decided a lot of Rwandan locals are “big talkers.”  Brushed my teeth outside.  Guarded a bathroom door for a woman while a man used the urinal next to me (come one, come all to the bathrooms of Hell).  Rolled downhill in a bus from town to town (pushed occasionally when slowed) after it broke down.  Loved Rwanda.

6 replies »

    • I’ve had the fortunate opportunity of living in Rwanda for the past two months, and I still have one month left before leaving. I think it’s unlikely that I will return in the future – mainly because there are many other places I would like to visit – but I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve gained here. Rwanda certainly is a beautiful country! And, who knows…maybe life will spin me back here at some point down the road 🙂