Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Week 3

Welcome to a new edition of Travel Tuesdays! Today's travel question is: Where did you feel the most unsafe when traveling? What did you do about it? Please grab a button below and link up with any travel-related posts you want to share this week, whether you decided to answer the prompt or share something else!

Last summer, as you probably know if you read my blog, I studied abroad in Rwanda for nearly three weeks. The most common response I got when I announced my impending trip was: "Oh my gosh, aren't you scared? Isn't Rwanda dangerous?" Unfortunately, most people only know of Rwanda because of the tragic genocide that occurred there in 1994. But now, the country is very safe. They have done a wonderful job rebuilding, and I never once felt unsafe. (Well, except sometimes in the bus. I just wasn't comfortable with how closely we drove past pedestrians and the motorbike taxis.) It probably helped that we were paired some Rwandan students to show us around the city, study with us and help translate for us, and we became very close with some of them.

My roommates and I with Emmanuel, a Rwandan student who traveled with us throughout the program.

Rwanda really is a wonderful example of how a country can move past a tragedy, even one as horrific as a genocide, both as a society and in the government. I only wish more people understood the current state of the country instead of imagining a massacre every time Rwanda is mentioned. Almost my entire experience in Africa was very comfortable, safety-wise. In fact, I felt less safe walking to work in the morning on the Mizzou campus than I ever did in Rwanda. It was only when I got to Nairobi, on my way to Amboseli National Park with my mother, when I felt unsafe.

Nairobi was a very bustling, urban city. My mom said she had heard it called the "New York City" of Africa, and I think that's pretty accurate. There were people everywhere. All over the sidewalks, in the streets, between cars ... everywhere. We were only in the Nairobi for the night, so we could catch a bush plane to Amboseli early in the morning, but we wanted to see the city a little. We dropped all our things off in our hotel room, and I wrapped my camera strip around my wrist and stuck it in my pocket. That was all I took with me; I knew in that throng of people, I would never feel someone trying to pickpocket me. (And just for the record, I do not think pickpocketing is an "African" or "abroad" experience. I'm very careful of my things in America, too.)

View from the hotel room. And trust me; the crowd looked and felt a lot denser from the ground.

My mom and I took a short walk around the block, and promptly went back to the hotel. I don't want to sound like a wussy traveler, and if we had gone to Nairobi to see Nairobi we would have spent more time in the city, but we really just wanted to get some dinner and a good night's sleep so we could enjoy a game ride the next day. The entire time we were walking around, I was worried about bumping into someone, how to cross the street (crazy drivers!) or if someone would try to pickpocket me. I've never felt like that before in a city, so it was an interesting experience.

Luckily, that's the only time I've ever felt unsafe while traveling. I can't wait to read your travel tales. Thanks for reading and/or participating!

Next week's topic: What destination is at the top of your travel bucket list? Why? What do you want to do there? Do you think it will ever happen, and if so, when/how?


Nicole Rene said...

Well that is really freaking cool you got to go to Africa! I bet that was an absolutely amazing experience! And hey if that's the unsafest you've felt, I'd say you're doing alright! :) But I understand how you feel, I am always scared of being pickpocketed in big cities regardless of the country!! So many people pushed up against you & it's so hard to keep track of everything!

Megan said...

Thanks! And yeah, I feel pretty lucky. I know I could have had a lot worse experiences with safety!

Lilly said...

This is such a cool link-up! I am already dreaming of my bucket list spot for a good post to contribute next week. Thank you for your recommendation on the Hunger Games! I downloaded the first book and, like everyone, am already done. I do totally understand the hype now!


Megan said...

Thanks, I can't wait to see your post next week! :) And I'm glad you liked The Hunger Games; the second book was my favorite, so you're in for a treat!