Sorry for the recent blog silence. We’ve had a busy few weeks with our friend Hamid visiting! I’ll do a quick recap with pictures.
Colin and I spent New Year’s Eve in an outdoor concert venue in the steady rain listening to some fantastic African musicians!
The following weekend we attended an Outdoor Wilderness First Aid Training in the chilly mountain town of Musanze. The trainer was from the UK, first time in Africa, and seemed really confused by the fact that you can’t rely on one of the country’s few ambulances to show up within 4 hours of the emergency…. Luckily when I was stabbed by a marker, my classmates could patch me up:
Then our friend Hamid came! Being the very first international visitor we’ve had in Rwanda, we celebrated his visit with a very belated Housewarming party. My host family came, as well as Frisbee and expat friends.
We went to the beautiful lakeside town of Kibuye where we stayed atop a huge hill overlooking Lake Kivu. We decided renting a canoe would be fun, until we realized halfway across the lake that the paddles were insanely small for the size of the boat and the boat was so huge it barely moved through the water! We rented a motor boat the next day and visited the lake’s various islands. Our guide woke up the famous bats on one of the islands by throwing rocks at them and they swirled around the sky angrily for Kibuye’s biggest tourist attraction.
We took Hamid to Frisbee and had a grand time playing with the youth team from another part of Kigali.
I was also able to take Hamid to my various workplaces, including the studio in Nyamata and to the MindLeaps center in Nyamirambo. No pics from the studio but we had a great time coloring with the kids at MindLeaps:
Tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda was a definite highlight of the trip. Only about 900 mountain gorillas still exist in the whole world. The park we visited, called Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, has over half of the world’s gorilla population. We first traveled across the border to Uganda with our driver named God. (We were literally in God’s hands, or rather, his car?) The first night we stayed at an eco lodge called Matunda Eco Community Centre, with simple cabins and amazing views, basic facilities, and electricity powered by solar panels. It was a great spot for swimming, trying local crawfish, and sitting around the campfire under the stars.
The next day we hiked a few hours up a big ole mountain into the park to see gorillas. Trackers go early in the morning to locate the gorilla families and then tourists are divided into small groups to visit one family. You hike into the park with a guide and two armed guards carrying guns to scare off rogue elephants. They let you get super close to the gorillas and give you an hour to hang out and take pictures.
That night and the next day we stayed at Bunyonyi Overland Resort on Lake Bunyonyi, which is one of the deepest lakes in Africa. Created from surrounding volcanoes, it’s a beautifully calm, serene lake. We took a boat ride to see the islands and walked around on one that had a peaceful resort with cute platform tents and lots of birds.
Upon returning to Rwanda, we ended the visit by attending Kigali’s “Hash” and eating big fish. Earlham friends will be familiar with this odd event but for others: the Kigali Hash is a run/walk through the streets of Kigali “set” by fellow Hashers who sprinkle paper confetti like a trail through the city. Runners/walkers must search for the paper sprinkles, which often wind down tiny alleyways and through people’s fields as well as along major roads, until ending at a bar with lots of beer. There are lots of bizarre traditions involved: frequent Hashers have crude Hash names that must be used whilst in the presence of other Hashers. You also must say that the Hash trail is the shortest trail there’s ever been and of course it’s as flat as Indiana. (This particular trail started with a GIANT hill and was about 8km long.) After walking for two and half hours, wechowed down on Nyamirambo’s big fish specialty with Frisbee friends.
So who’s visiting next? 😉