A New Adventure
Yep. I’m still around. Older, slower, achier, but still moving. I love Rwanda, the people, the culture, the environment and all those animals that I watched yesterday: baboons, zebras by the hundreds, impalas, giraffes, millions of birds, a few elephants, a couple of lions….and stunning hills, lakes, and trees. A huge fenced national park belongs to them.
I visited gorillas the last time I was here and I loved hanging out with them, occasionally feeling their fur on my skin when they passed by during their daily routines…..but the government doubled the price for the tour, so I decided to skip Rwandan gorillas this time. My daughter, Jan, and her husband, Bill, are going to Uganda this week to see the gorillas who live there, for half the price! (Uganda is very close.)
I’m just going to hang around the house we rented for a month. These days “relaxing” is a positive choice. I’m planning to hang around Kigali, the capital, which is modern, safe and clean. People are always sweeping and picking up the garbage. And wherever you go, new buildings are being built.
A few observations: there are tons of motorcycles that serve as taxis, and in the countryside, billions of bikes that carry loads of huge bags, boxes, building materials, and big yellow plastic containers (10 and 20 kilos) of water. Those containers are carried not only on bikes, but also on motorcycles, shoulders, heads, in arms, and on backs. Lots of women and kids carry them. You can’t miss them! Sometimes there are ten stacked up an a bike!
Often giant bags are piled on bikes and walked to their destinations. Bikes serve as wagons, pushed and pulled up and down hills and filled with stuff. And wherever you go, there are people peddling. It’s a hilly country and there must be a lot of strong muscles. There are definitely a lot of skinny, healthy, good-looking men….and they’re nice too.
The other day we went to a place (Root Foundation: https://www.rootfoundation-rwanda.org/) that gathers dozens of vulnerable kids who are struggling at home, and often end up living on the street. They teach them life skills, confidence, dance, drumming, songs, instruments; and they work with parents as well. The goal is to help these children to fulfill their potentials and grow up to become valuable community members. Lars, Nirin (my friends from France who were here with us), Jan, and I walked in and were welcomed with smiles, hugs, hands…… and we offered laps. I loved being there.
The essence of this country is its spirit and energy….especially among women. There was a genocide in 1994 and in one hundred days, one million people were killed. Since then, women have united (many more men were killed or sent to prison than women), formed cooperatives, and stepped up to help re-build their communities and the country. With the support of president, Paul Kagame, today, more than 60 percent of the parliament members are female and 50% of the cabinet.
Of the incredible women that we know here, they have thriving businesses in everything from food distribution to film production to meat processing – and they all give back to the community in some way. And the many cooperatives are creating some amazing crafts: jewelry, baskets, weavings, and more. It’s a diverse country that has risen from the ashes with a palpable energy and an exciting entrepreneurial spirit. It seems like anything is possible here.
That’s it for now. We’re headed out for some lunch in a few minutes (the food is good; the fruits are fantastic). Do come visit.