Rwanda

I didn’t know Africa was red. Yes, I know, it’s the ‘red continent’ and the earth is red, but, actually yes, it’s REALLY red, everywhere!!!. And I didn’t know the Mediterranean Sea was that big and that the Sahara was as big as the Mediterranean. Only a bit more yellow, at least from what I could tell from the airplane. But now to the story, hopefully the first of many presented on this side. Don’t know yet how it’s going to work in the next week, as I am currently writing from the comfort of a couch, located in an inviting living room somewhere in Rugenge, a rural quarter of Kigali, capital of Rwanda for all the geographical ignorant of you.

The town is spread over many hills and to walk up the center you have to climb quiet some steep dirt roads. Apparently an extension of your stay even allows doing this in flip flops

and I am not talking

about the local

citizens of Kigali.

That is out of the

question.

So the first exciting trip started on my second day here, going out to the Akagera Park in the east of this country. My stay here is like a long film in the movie theatre with unbelievable impressive and beautiful picture passing by, making everything quiet surreal.

We visited a refugee village, where Rwandans, dislocated from Tanzania try to start a new live, currently helped by CARE, an organization helping them to build houses and providing food, as the area is quiet dry and food is scarce. We in this case are I and members of NDA, the company of the friend I am currently staying with. Their business idea is to have tourism that supports local villages and provides some kind of developmental aid.

The idea of this particular trip was to prepare the villagers for tourism, teaching them its negative aspects on their environment but at the same time giving them ideas how to improve their ideas on how to use tourism as a second source of income besides farming. Basically tourist delegations will be brought to the village after visiting the Akagera Park, giving them a tour through the village, visiting their local cooperatives (milk bar, bee-keeping, carpeting) and providing the opportunity to buy local products. Let it be said at this point, that everyone can form his/her own opinion towards this kind of developmental aid but it was very impressive to see with how much enthusiasm and interest the villagers try to improve their current situation and work hard for a better living.

And it was pretty cool to actually get the chance to see a development such as this.One picture shows how everyone gathered around Ngabo to see the pictures on his laptop, taken during an earlier visit.

Fun as well was the search for Mutahare, the one and only local elephant near the village. Apparently it can drink beer from a bottle, so we bought two and tried to find our way down to the lake, where it can be found generally. Crossing some dirt tracks and ditching the fields we had to stop the car some distance away so as not to get stuck in the mud. So, on it went on foot. No question that we were pretty much covered in dirt afterwards. Most interestingly we had keen followers and the cows usually herded by the kids where suddenly well able to tend for themselves. It felt a bit like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. And then suddenly….there he was… far down in the water, taking a bath, not even dreaming about coming out, despite our yells from the shore.

What a pity, so we had to drink the beer ourselves, by now of course luke warm. And hike back with this bunch of kids in our trail.

What fun for an early morning trip. Which reminds me, yes sunset is at 6pm, so it’s pitch-black at 6:30pm. Ever been in a place at the equator at 6:30pm without electricity? Well, I can tell, its DARK, unbelievable.

So, considering all this, yeah right, one has heard tons of stuff about Africa and they are mostly true, but you have to see it for yourself to actually now what it means. You’re missing out on something, guys

Lets see how next week goes and of course more stories and pictures…

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