Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Exploring Rwanda

So much to tell you ... so little time.  
Day 5: We started the day with a trek to see the colobus monkey. Several fun facts .. "colobus" means disabled (because these monkeys are missing thumbs ... which seems like a especially dangerous evolutionary flaw, especially when swinging from trees is your daytime activity); they look like British barristers wearing the black robes and white wigs; they cannot drink water ... so their urine is very concentrated and smells terrible.  (I told you the facts were "fun").
Photo credit to Marnie Cervenka 

ObservationRwanda decided - over a decade ago - that their best income option was tourism and, to attract tourists, they needed a country that was clean and safe. The government thus requires every Rwandan to spend one day a month cleaning the country. On the third Saturday of each month, from 9am to 1pm, every citizen must clean and sweep the street around them or some part of the city/ village. Littering is a finable offense and tidiness and cleanliness is highly encouraged. It’s worked! While Rwanda is a very poor country (coffee pickers work full days in the blistering sun for less than $1 US per day), there is no trash anywhere. Pretty impressive.

Day 6: We set out on a two day kayaking adventure on Lake Kivu.  And I mean "trek" as we did 18-22 KMs per day (which, in case you were not sure, is a LOT...  I have the blisters on my hands to prove it). Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  The water was as still as glass. 

We spent one night on a deserted island in tents. But not roughing it... far more like “glamping” with a hot meal, mattresses with fresh sheets and blankets and table and chairs set up under the trees. All very colonial and “out of Africa”-ish.

The border between Rwanda and the Congo (DRC - Democratic Republic is Congo) runs down the middle of the lake, so you can see both countries at once.  Love the canoe boats made of planks of wood with cotton and gum stuffed into the cracks.  

Villagers make their cows swim out to the close islands in the mornings to eat the fresh grass.
ObservationThe government has committed to having every home supplied with electricity by 2025 but water is still tough. Villages have a central water pipe and fetching water in a plastic jerry van is a time suck every day. Clearly lots of gossip is shared.
Clever plan for giving everyone a street address:  each house is marked by a number on the outside. The government came by with a bucket of red paint and just started numbering: simple and effective.

Because of the genocide, the country is very young-centric with 65% of the country being under the age of 25.  The hope for this country is in the bright eyes and quick smile of its children.

Again, the light in their eyes captured in street graffiti
And last .. isn't my Booth still a hunk (even at 60 and in a stupid trekking hat) ???

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