Monday, October 29, 2007

Rwanda, un pays bel

Yes...it is such a beautiful country! I think we're safe to call it the "Florida of Africa," honestly. Apparently many countries have LOADED on the foreign aid in the past 13 years, as a consequence of their guilt from ignoring the 1994 genocide there. The roads are paved SO nicely (seriously like a well-paved road in the US), there are even guard rails on the sides of them, and it's very very clean, and there are palm trees planted on the medians in Kigali, the capital. It is also very mountainous, and people speak french there, which was just plain fun to TRY to speak with them!! One of the assistants at our hotel had a unique name too: Frank O. Fone. Neat, huh?!

Our main reason for going there was to go to the mountains in the west, where the gorillas live (also what Gorillas in the Mist was based off of, and where Diane Fossey's grave is). We decided not to track them this time around, as it is SUPER expensive, but we were going to just climb a mountain/volcano...much more feasible for our budget! Well, if you plan to do the same thing, two pieces of advice: bring enough money, and don't do it in the rainy season! I ended up having a relaxing day lounging around at our retreat center/hotel (which smelled like flowers everywhere!), meditating, reading, etc., and eric basically did the exact opposite, by spending almost 12 (instead of the expected 6) hours on a really really really muddy mountain. Craziness!

After our time there, we went to Kigali. It's probably my favorite big/capital city in Africa so far. very spread out, but surrounded by hills, and like I said, very clean. Just being there in itself was intense, wondering what it was like 13 years ago...if there were dead bodies on the road you're driving on, if the person you're talking with lost a family member/friend/neighbor/or was injured themselves. and the answer, more often than not, is likely yes. We went to the Kigali Memorial Center, which is devoted to honoring those affected by the genocide, which was interesting & heart-breaking & stomach-wrenching to learn more about. It is just unbelievable what happened, & the background leading up to it...believe it or not, the killing of 1 million people did NOT just come out of nowhere, as I thought before this weekend! If you have not seen Hotel Rwanda, please do...it gives a great account of the situation. we also saw The Hotel des Milles Colines, which the movie is based on. so hard to believe.

we also went to some craft shops & had pizza & coffee at "Bourbon Coffee" (yeah N.O.!), which was nice. Overall, I'm really thankful that we got to go there, to learn more about the situation and to honor the innocent people who have lived through something I'm not sure I could. Pray for peace.

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

Wow, what an experience. I wish I could experience half of what the two of you are. It is so great to hear from you.

Sending a hug via the internet!
Love, Jenn

Les said...

Hey, it's good to hear you guys are still amongst the living...I was concerned..all I thought about was the movie...STAY SAFE!!!

I love you guys

Andrew said...

You finally got to Rwanda! When I was in Kigali, I had lunch at the Hotel de Milles Collines, and put it on my father's credit card as a souvenir.

And yeah, the genocide museum is intense, and rightfully so. Lots of people walking around Rwanda with big scars and missing limbs.. But one of the friendliest and safest places in Africa these days.

Glad you guys continue to have a great time.

Anonymous said...

tHAT SOUNDS LIKE A VERY INTERESTING PLACE TO VISIT. i HAD A VERY SIMILr experience in one of the concentration camp sites in Germany - very heart-wrenching. I am glad you enjoyed yourselves otherwise. I am enjoying your blog a lot. Thanks and take care.
love and peace,
mel