First, let me apologize for being the world’s most lackadaisical blogger. I left you hanging on a rather negative post, and I truly apologize. I’ve been busy at work, and busy in my personal time, and this is the first time I’ve actually sat down at home since…. Wednesday? But I digress – excuses be gone!

We’re also definitely without power right now, so I’ll try to crank this post out before my battery dies.

This weekend I went to Kibuye, which is a gorgeous town on Lake Kivu.

But I can’t really start talking about Kibuye until I mention the drive there. My friend Scott and I met up at the bus station, and I absolutely failed all of you by not taking a photo of the joyful bit of chaos that is the Nyabugogo Bus Station. I was so exuberant to be leaving Kigali for the first time – and overwhelmed with trying to buy a ticket for a bus that left in ten minutes – that I didn’t even pause to capture a visual keepsake to share with you. After buying a ticket, boarding a bus (more like a passenger van than a bus), and then being shuttled off that bus and onto another one, we were on our way.

The drive from Kigali to Kibuye is one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. The hills keep rolling around in front of you, the crops growing on the side of the mountains are stunning, people are walking everywhere, and I think I’ll pay for a driver next time just so I can stop and take pictures. This part of the world is absolutely gorgeous. Three hours on the bus was more than enough, though, and I was happy to arrive in Kibuye.

Kibuye – a small town on the eastern edge of Lake Kivu – is as lovely as the drive to get there. We stayed in Home Saint Jean, a hotel/hostel that was comfortably cheap. The first night a private room wasn’t available, so I stayed in the dorm for $4. The second night I decided to massively upgrade and pay $8 for a private room and a sink (shared bathrooms). Best of all, the hotel is on a ridge overlooking the lake, so it felt like a resort…. except for the constant construction. Seriously, if they weren’t renovating (and waking up the world at 6:30 every am), I would head out there every weekend.

IMG_1890

Now do you believe me? For $4 a night this can be you!

Friday night we hung out in the bar/restaurant area of the hotel and OD’d on Dolly Parton. Seriously, Rwandans LOVE their country music. I’m not complaining!!

Leaving the big city to watch the sun set over the lake? Yes, please! IMG_0060 IMG_0062 IMG_1806

But by far the COOLEST thing we did all weekend was watch some cows swim from one island to the next. The cows live on an island in Lake Kivu with a cowboy (as he is called), and during the dry season (aka right now – this is the beginning of the dry season) the cows swim to another island to graze. Number one, I didn’t know cows could swim. And B, what?!?! But y’all, they really do.

IMG_1853

I have a video of them swimming from one island to the next. I’m unable to upload it here, but happy to email it to you if you’d like.

IMG_1862

IMG_1866IMG_1880You too can see cows swim! My friend Scott – co-founder of Vayando – sets up experiences for tourists that allow you to meet with an entrepreneur in the country you’re visiting and speak with them about their daily life. I think we all want to have an authentic experience with a local when we travel, and Vayando helps facilitate that. Right now they’re only in Costa Rica and Rwanda, but their goal is to set up experiences in 100 countries. Cool, right?

My next Vayando experience will definitely be night fishing on Lake Kivu. We intended to do that on a boat like this….

IMG_1907…..But instead we went out with a giant group of people to meet the cowboy again and help milk the cows.

IMG_0108

Before I left Kibuye, I decided to spend Sunday morning walking around the little town. With each step I took, another child joined the parade behind me. When I made eye contact with the children, they shyly looked away. They wanted to practice their English, and I wanted to practice my Kinyarwanda, so these little ones and I hit it off right away. Eventually I turned around to head back, and we said our goodbyes. Church had just let out as I walked back through town, and the streets filled with women dressed in the most beautifully vibrant fabric. Families laughed and walked slowly through the streets, reveling in the rest that comes on a Sunday.

Up ahead of me I saw a woman walking hand in hand with her son. He was only a couple of years old – no higher than my knee – and he was walking with a red lollipop. I was only 10 feet behind mother and son when he turned around. When he saw me, his face transformed into the definition of joy. With a giant smile, he spread his arms wide and screamed – MZUNGU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – as he ran towards me. He ran into me, hugged my legs, and ran triumphantly back to his mother. I have never seen anyone so happy to see me in my life.

{Mzungu means “white person” and nearly every child yells out “mzungu!” as I pass. It isn’t derogatory; it is a statement of fact. And though I’d rather blend in to my surroundings, these kids fill me with a special kind of joy. The kind of joy that makes me tolerate “mzungu” with a smile.}

Leaving Kibuye after this unexpectedly perfect weekend was a little difficult. I put my belongings on my back and slowly walked away from Home Saint Jean and back into town to catch the bus. After buying my $3 ticket, I jammed myself into the crowded bus on Sunday afternoon with other travelers headed back to the capitol after a weekend at home. A man listened to a mostly-static radio station for hours (earbuds, man!); I felt for the women nursing their children on the hot and crowded bus; and a woman and child argued with the driver when he wouldn’t let them bring their chicken on board.

Maybe in the States I would have been irritated by my lack of personal space. But I looked around at the people sharing a crowded three hour bus ride with me – people I never would have met if Providence didn’t align herself just so – and I felt so blessed.

How lucky I am, to be in JUST this place.

I am SO happy here. I click with people in Rwanda like I haven’t been able to in DC, and my life is full to the brim. Here, I belong. Here, I am so so happy.

 

 

Advertisements