"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.06.2006

straight from the Texas hill country, natural-born highway junkie

You know, I've done a lot of crazy things in my life, and there aren't many experiences about which I've said, "Never Again." There are some (skydiving, eating ostrich) that I'm glad to have done once but won't do again, but aside from that, there are just a very few things that I won't ever do again and that I regret having gotten involved with in the first place (among them the D.A.).

Today's nine-hour bus ride from Kampala to Kigali is one of the former. I'm glad I did it, it's a good life experience to have under the belt, but that will be the last time I ever, EVER ride that far in a supposedly air-conditioned coach with fifty other miserable human beings. It's just too far. Rwandan customs searched every single one of our bags at the border (what were they looking for? I never did figure it out.). And then, just when we were al-mo-st th-er-e, there was a loud noise and people behind me started shouting. Because one of the bus windows had shattered after some children threw a rock at it. We stopped while they pushed the glass out onto the highway (yes, you read that right), then got back on the bus for a much more ventilated ride into Kigali. Here's a picture of that excitement.

It's nice to be back in Kigali. No one ever believes that Rwanda is one of the lovliest places I've seen, but it's so beautiful with the mountains and everyone is so friendly. And really, the ride wasn't that bad. (I mean, they showed Chuck Norris Delta Force movies with no sound for most of the route. Have you seen the Chuck Norris Facts page? The Secret Agent Man told me about this last fall and it is wacky.) I could tell we were getting closer to Rwanda when the land got more and more cultivated (this is one of the most population-dense places on earth) and the quality of the cattle improved markedly. Tutsi herders have been breeding longhorn cattle for centuries and their stock is some of the best anywhere.

So I will wait here a couple of days to pick up the FedEx package with my blood sugar monitor in it that the Cotton Palace Princess was so sweet to send since I apparently lost it at Dulles. My hotel is nice and safe - but it's on the site of the old Diplomat Hotel, which is the one in Hotel Rwanda that they go to first (where he empties the safe and saves his family), so that's a little creepy. There are reminders of what this place went through everywhere, but I am reminded of Albert Schweitzer's call to "Remind yourself occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the site" and I'm thinking that maybe it's good to be a little ill-at-ease here.

I am planning to just take it easy before heading into the craziness that is the DRC later this week. Met a girl from New York on the bus today who speaks no French and got a little overwhelmed at the bus park tonight, so I think we are going to go see some of the genocide memorials tomorrow. I miss y'all.

1 Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

I am so glad you're keeping up your blog while in Africa - it's so cool to read, and so good to know how you're doing.

Not that Mexico and Africa are in any way similar, but your bus ride reminds me of one or several bus experiences while I studied in Mexico. I remember when the air conditioning went out on the bus from Guadalajara back to Monterrey (I recall that being about a 9 hour ride) - I was asleep and woke up sweating. That was the same bus ride where I sat in front of an old woman that kept bumping my seat. Nice. And on (I think) another busride the Federalis boarded our bus. Slightly nervewracking.

At Mexican customs they did random checks on people's luggage - green light equals no search, red light equals search.

Ah, good times.

Monday, February 06, 2006 8:31:00 PM

 

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