Gisenyi to Murunda to Kibuye...
Friday, the 20th: up at 4:00a to day goodbye to the Greener's, store our luggage in Allison and Julie Radke's room, and head out on our safari to Akagera national park. The flat-tire incident on the road after leaving Markey to take the bus to her site added another 'Cultural event' to our trip. After being dejacked by the villagers, we were on our way. The sfari was absolutely breathtaking as we saw herds of antelope such as Topi and Impala. We also saw zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, hippopotami, and crocodile. Our park guide, Emmanuel, was very knowledgeable and shared a book with pictures of many different species of birds...lilac-crested, African eagle, blue heron, egrets, and vultures. We at a picnic lunch with the hippos, sharing our Brie and PB&J with Ammanuel and our driver. After a final tour through the plain at dusk, our ride home to Kigali in teh dark was very frightening (more about later).
Saturday: After a night at Sta. Paul's hostel, we had a wonderful breakfast at the Bourbon Café and caught a Coaster bus to Gisenyi, a coastal resort on Lake Kivu near volcanoes and gorillas. We spent the night at St. Francois Xavier hostel after an afternoon at the Semba Hotel beach - another resort built by the Belgians. Our evening meal at the Paradise Maldehide provided traditional African dancers by firelight.
Sunday: Dr. Sylvester, the Murunda medical director, and his driver picked us up for a free ride to Aaron and Deanne's village home, Murunda. We traveled through beautiful tea plantations, with groves of eucalyptus and banana trees. The last kilometers to Murunda are extremely treacherous raods....and it seemed we would never arrive! Aaron wanted Ron to experiences the last leg of the journey by moto (motorcycle)...so they bailed out of the truck at the next village and we arrived separately to their home on the Murunda school grounds. Iggy, their dog, was so gald to see Aaron and Deanne..and we were so impressed by the hardwork they have put in to training him. A large baptismal ceremony was in progress on the soccer field below their home when we arrived. A&D also had been invited to a traditional Rwandan ceremony that afternoon, so we tagged along and had our first taste of village Rwanda culture. One of the prominent village families was having a celebration of their sons' sacrament - sort of like a confirmation. We sat in a small room with over 65 villagers and experienced our first speeches in Kinyarwanda and the like. The food was a corn much, plantains, beans, meat (cow) and Fanta. We relaxed and played Phrase Party after learning the ropes of life without running water.
Monday: We relaxed with morning coffee and tea, then shared lunch with the teachers at the school. We were then able to tour the local hospital led by Pascal, the local ophthalmic physician. We saw the outpatient clinic, pharmacy, laboratory, HIV clinic, medical ward, newly added TB wing, and ended with the surgery center, PT clinic and OB wing. Pascal told us that Rwanda law requires a woman to deliver at a hospital so the maternity wing was a very busy place. We were able to see a 10-minute-old little boy under a warming light. We ended by visiting the area of the hospital where the family members (women) cooked the food for their loved ones who are hospitalized. It is an amazing support system, yet primitive. A&D made delicious pasta with sauce over their charcoal fire..and then baked banana bread in D's improvised Dutch oven. She is amazing.
Tuesday: Our Murunda PARTY DAY! After a brief walk to the coffee plantation belowe the soccer field (village Genocide memorial was on the path), we took our first showers using the solar bag. Jerome (one of their best friends) visited to make the final party plans with A&D and I baked Aaron's birthday cake to take to Kibuye on Wednesday. A&D had made invitations to over 40 villagers to a 'welcoming' party for us at the local canteen. We had the privilege of hosting hte party with them and it was a wonderful evening of meeting their friends, colleagues and students. We ate goat kabobs (our first) and potatoes, drank Fanta or the local brew. Jerome was the MC with Eugene (the headmaster at the school) as DJ. Aaron, Dee, Ron and Jerome gave speeches...and Ron sang the Lord's Prayer for us. We danced the rest of the evening before the rains came (in force)...it was great!