June 6th & 7th: The Good, Bad & Ugly

6:05 AM

June 6th/June 7th: 

On June 6th, we woke up at 5:30 in the morning to head to a town called Kibuye. Kibuye is home to Lake Kivu. The three hour bus ride to Kibuye was beautiful. I have enjoyed all these bus rides because the hills and the foliage here are something out of a movie. Not even pictures can do it justice, but I’ll keep trying to capture it.

On the way we passed many more burial sites from the genocide, all of them labeled the area of massacre followed by the phrase “Never Again”. One of the burial sites that we passed had actual skulls and bones from victims of the genocide. We came across St. Pierre’s church on our walk to Lake Kivu. The church was one of many where slaughter occurred, many times a result of the priest turning in his own congregation. When I read “Never Again”, I think it applies to much more than just Rwanda, or Africa for that matter. I think that Never Again should be a lesson to the entire world that discrimination of ANY kind, whether it is sexual orientation, race, gender, etc. should not be allowed. The power we give to discrimination metastasizes and destroys the soul. 

Once we arrived in Kibuye, the challenge was to find a way to Lake Kivu. Communication in Rwanda is very difficult. I did not realize how difficult the language barrier really can be until we arrived at Kibuye. Since Kibuye is far more isolated than Kigali, it was a challenge to find anyone that understand our english. Finally, a man working at the bank was able to understand us and he called a boat driver to come pick us up. As we were waiting in the bank, the pharmacist who spoke a little english came over and told us it would be an honor for us to come and visit his store. I am still trying to figure out what Rwandan’s think of Americans. I have noticed that the little kids always stop and smile at us, usually accompanied by a wave. The adults either glare at us, stare at us, and a few have even grabbed our arms and our hair just to see what it feels like. It has taken some time to get used to all the eyes that seem to be on us, but I have to realize that I am intrigued by things that are different too.

Lake Kivu was mindblowing. We got in the boat to realize we were the only boat on the entire lake. We were told that we were traveling to Bat Island. We were curious to why it was called Bat Island, and we soon found out. The moment we got there, thousands of bats were flying overhead. I always thought that bats were nocturnal, but African Bats must be different. We took a hike up Bat Island and although the brush was overgrown, the view from the top was entirely worth it. We could almost see all the way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our guide took us back down the trail and our nerves started to flare as we realized we were getting closer and closer to the bats. Just before we reached them, our guide clapped twice and within the second, the thousands of bats moved off the tree, shaking the entire Island. Part of me was praying that I wouldn’t catch rabies, the other part of me was trying to keep up with the adrenaline rush of it all. On the way down, we picked fresh guava. At the bottom of the hike, We dipped our feet in the water as we ate our guava. It was paradise.

Before I came on the trip, I was told that Africa was magical. I didn’t know what they meant at the time but as our journey goes on, I have experienced those magical moments, like the rush I felt on my first Boda Boda, and the overcoming of my fear of bats, or being the only boat on the entirety of Lake Kivu. I do not believe you can find this magic anywhere else in the world, although I might make the rest of my life a pursuit to find out. 

Once we reached land, we found ourselves at a resort hotel. I never imagined Africa to have resort hotels but that is just proof that the westerners view of Africa is quite skewed. I am afraid that many westerners come to Africa and spend all their time in organizations that they fail to see the beauty. I was conflicted on exactly what I was supposed to do in my time in Africa but I am so grateful that I have decided to use some of my time to explore. 

We enjoyed fantas on the beach and then went up to the hotel for lunch. I would describe what we ate but every part of me is hoping that I will forget. On the bus ride back, we sat a row down from a woman who thought it would be funny to make me her personal victim. We never found out her name but decided to call her Regina George. Throughout the bus ride, she tried to steal my food twice. The second time, I saw her hand begin to reach back and my reflexes kicked in and swatted her hand away. I wish there was a video camera recording all of our adventures because me engaging in a cat fight on a Rwandan bus might just be the most entertaining you tube video you’ve ever seen. I have learned that most people are kind to Mzungu’s but some will take advantage of the fact that we are foreigners. I am beginning to learn to stand up for myself. 

After the ride back, we were all pretty exhausted and headed to bed pretty early.That night at around 10:30, Anna woke me up to tell me she wasn’t feeling good. The moment she said that, I felt a stabbing pain in my stomach and immediately knew I was about to throw up. I ran to the bathroom for round one. Not even an hour later, Lindsey was sick and the domino effect had begun. Only Jenelle was spared, leading us to believe we had been food poisoned. We later found out that we were facing a virus that can come about through poisoned food.The night was ugly and when I say ugly, I mean “Bridesmaids” style projectile vomiting one after the other over and over again. I’m sorry this is so visual, but I figure I’ll look back someday and laugh at it. But right now as I sit with my African version of Sprite and Saltines, it is a little hard to laugh, mainly because I’m pretty sure I threw out my back on that last round. I can assure you one thing, I will NEVER EVER again eat mushroom soup. EVER. Africa sure has a way of keeping you on your toes. I am very grateful for the guest house we are staying at and our host parents who woke up to take care of us. 

June 8th was spent sleeping, and drinking homemade ginger tea in an attempt to feel better. Being sick away from home is always difficult but I must admit that I would not want to be sick in Africa anywhere but our guest house. Michael and Adele, our host parents set up a projector in the living room. I think if anything can cure an African virus, it is Titanic and so we found ourselves sicker than sick, sprawled out in the living room watching Titanic sink and Rose lose Jack Dawson, and I realized that things could definitely be worse. 

Like I said, someday we will laugh about this all. I guess it is just a part of this crazy adventure.

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