nyungwe forest

it’s sunday night and i’m sitting in the front room of our new house trying to make a dent in the stack of exams waiting to be graded. amanda is due back from kigali, but as it’s already dark i’m assuming she’s decided to spend the night there. she doesn’t know that the students have been sent home early and so neither of us have to work tomorrow. the director sent them home because the whole town is out of water. the pump at the bottom of the hill went out three days ago, the cisterns ran out yesterday, and now they only way to get water is to hike down the hill into the valley and back up with a bucket.

i hear a car stop outside our house, which is odd because we don’t know anyone with a car. perhaps it’s for the neighbors. there’s a knock on the door and there’s amanda and two older englishmen standing on our porch. turns out they gave her a ride home from kigali (!) in their land-rover after spending the day at lake kivu (on the other side of the country). life would be a lot different here if i were a wealthy ex-pat. we show them around our humble abode, which is like a mansion in musha, but they’re congratulating us on our ability to make do without hot water, kitchen stove, or laundry service. hmm. when i tell them there isn’t any water at all, they’re outraged and offer to take us back to kigali to camp on their sofa (!) in their swanky hotel where they have not one but two bathtubs with hot showers, a fridge, a full kitchen with microwave (!), a television, and internet access. yes, life really would be different.

since school’s cancelled and there’s no water, we take them up on their offer and head off to kigali. on the way they explain that they run a travel company that offers three-week trips to developing countries- you spend two weeks in five-star accomodation, seeing lions and tigers and gorgeous beaches, and one week working on a development project, like working with kids in an orphanage or fixing up a school or teaching IT workshops or you name it. kind of a cool company. they’ve got projects all over the world and rwanda’s the next country on the list. seems the tourist industry here is up and coming- the gorillas draw quite a crowd and mountain-biking is more and more popular.

they’re also interested in investing in an eco-lodge, to be built in rwanda’s newest national park, nyungwe forest, in the south on the border with burundi and d.r.c. so we’re invited to come along under the guise of ‘personal assistants’ to spend a day in the park for free. after a five-hour drive through rwanda’s stunning south- winding roads through farmland cut into terraced hills interspersed with mudhut villages- we’re in the forest. not a soul in sight, outside of colobus monkeys and colorful birds. dense rainforest with mist hanging in the valleys. on the other side of the park, tea plantations. i can’t describe the brilliant green of fresh tea- i’ll let the pictures do their job.

tea plantation hanging mist bend in the road

hills of tea misty tea sunset over tea

this was my first time off the beaten path between kigali and rwamagana, though why i didn’t go sooner i don’t know. after almost three months of being a volunteer, it was wonderful to just be a tourist for a day. rwanda is gorgeous.

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~ by aliciawolcott on March 25, 2007.

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