Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Better than Harry Potter?

Friday, July 15

As you know from my previous post, I was pretty distraught about missing the Harry Potter premiere while in Africa. (I know, what a trivial complaint. Spoiled much?) But luckily, our gorgeous weekend trip that began today made up for that.

Unfortunately, the day started off on a sad note. Colbey left after our morning tea break to travel to South Africa, where he will be doing another study abroad program before school begins. I'm disappointed he didn't get to experience Lake Kivu with us, but I'm sure he's doing amazing things down across the continent!

Bye bye, Colbey! Have fun in Cape Town!

We visited the Gender Monitoring Office down the street from the CNLG building in the morning, had tea and then began the 3-hour drive to Gisenyi, a town on Lake Kivu at the northwest corner of the country. Our original plan had been to spend Friday afternoon at the lake and then visit Iwawa, an island that rehabilitates troubled youth by teaching them practical skills, the next day. Although IGSC had secured permission for us to visit the island, the Minister of Defense became concerned about American citizens visiting the island because one of their boats just got in an accident, and he didn't want to be liable if anything bad happened to us. When we left Kigali in the morning, we still didn't know if we would be able to visit Iwawa or not.

We also left a little later than planned, so Bea made sure we stopped to eat lunch on the way instead of waiting until we arrived in Gisenyi. This was an excellent decision, as we didn't arrive in Gisenyi until 5 p.m. The students were all staying at a convent right on the lake, and it was gorgeous. My first thought when I looked out at the lake was, "I can't believe I wanted to be home watching Harry Potter tonight." It was absolutely breathtaking, and the nuns set us up in quaint little rooms complete with bath towels and mosquito nets.

While we all wandered around the property and took about 1.37 million pictures of the lake, the nuns prepared some hot tea and biscuits for us. Lauren pointed out (very accurately) the tea tasted like Froot Loops, which might sound weird but was actually quite delicious. We then had dinner and bought a bottle of wine from the nuns for 2500 francs. Yes, 2500. That's a little over $4 in the U.S. Wow. And the nuns had made the wine themselves, which was pretty cool.

At one point, I said "murakoze" to thank the nuns for bringing us the food. Sister Francois got very excited and exclaimed, "You speak Kinyarwanda!" I quickly denied it before she could get her hopes up any further. "That's the only word I know," I admitted, which evoked a laugh from her.

I was pretty tired from the long bus ride, and we decided we wanted to be up early the next day to get to the beach as soon as possible, so I retired fairly early.

 This was the first view of the lake I had, which made me think, "Maybe this is worth missing opening weekend."

 And then the sun began to set ...

 ... and the view just kept getting better. What an appropriate location for a convent - who could look at this and not think there's a God behind all this beauty?

No comments: