When we first arrived in Kigali, Jeff and I were in total awe of the city’s cleanliness, beauty, and smooth roads. Plastic bags are illegal here, and Umuganda requires monthly community service to maintain the land and roads, as we witnessed and participated in last Saturday. In fact, when we crossed rain-distressed roadways or mudslides covering the path (Blooke- do you find the load? Do you find how the load has been destroyed by the lain?), people were quick to say This area here needs Umuganda, and so it would be.
That said, during these wonder and awe moments, we had not yet ventured outside the city. In fact, only 20% of the roads are paved in Rwanda. The main roads leading to major towns or inter-country access roads are shiny and smooth but other than that, you need a land rover and a prayer!
I first understood this as the back-left passenger in a 12-passeger van carrying 15 people and their luggages. We had smooth roads form Kigali to Gisenyi, but then had 1.5 hours on an unpaved lakefront mountain road, leading to a small coffee-plantation community nestled in a valley. I was dizzy for 4 days. To this very moment, weeks later, my balance has not been restored as evidenced by two (TWO!) shower falls. Something about my inner ear…
I was more diligent the next time we made this trip, put out a serious call for prayer and antinausea meds, and was sure to never close my eyes and always hold my head steady. It worked, and I even found a way to take a little video or two to share. This first clip is on a main road in Gisenyi- meaning, this is better condition than any road to any village! The second clip is going through a village on one of the mountain roads:
One of the tasks we had while at Cyimbili was to check out the Congo Nile Trail, which sits on top of a continental divide. On one side, water flows down the ridge toward the Nile, and on the other side, into Lake Kivu (a volcanic lake- one of only three known lakes of its kind in the world and top 15 deepest), bordered by the Congo. We are hoping to build a WND team to hike part of this trail in early 2014 as a fundraiser for WND and an opportunity for others to learn more about ALARM’s work at Cyimbili. The most efficient way to get an overview of the terrain in the amount of time we had was to do it by moto.
SO. Imagine that video above, only you’re clinging to a Rwandan you almost totally trust on two wheels, for 4 hours, with a constant threat of rain. Jeff did this! The views were amazing, and he came back with reports of endless lake and mountain villages nestled in all the ridges and peaks and coves along the way. The terrain was diverse, ranging from cattle ranches to terraced fields to national forest to beautiful catholic churches and fishing villages, and many people of all ages yelling: Muzungu!
He also returned with a bruised coccyx. Five days later, he’s finally feeling better, but still has a significant visible bruise up his back. His poor badonkadonk! Riding on all those badonkadonk roads! The crazy thing is that people make this trip multiple times daily, to and from the market, to and from Gisenyi, often times in downpours.
Such is the life in rural Rwanda. Thanks, V, for the ride, and for keeping J safe :)