Month: November 2011

From the Pharaohs to the Land of A Thousand Hills – Rwanda…

Our stop-over in Egypt was beyond our wildest dreams. To stand before the Great Pyramids of Giza and the mighty Sphinx was a childhood dream of mine. And Buck got to see it all on his 9th birthday.

There are no words that can describe the grandeur of the pyramids and to think, they were built by hand. Amazing! Going inside the Pyramids was something that Jack and Buck were excited about.

Claustrophobia is alive and well in Giza, Egypt. Holy Cow! The tunnel into the center of the pyramid is a crawl space at best, and the air gets thicker and thicker as you arrive at the burial chamber in the center…the size of a walk-in closet. Yikes!  With my heart pounding in my ears and having a full-on anxiety attack, I managed to celebrate Buck’s 9th, center pyramid. Talk about a quantum leap for me in the department of phobias.

Because of the revolution and political upheaval in Cairo, the tourist trade is way down… Way Down. And you can feel it in the desperation of the vendors. The people selling souvenirs around the pyramids and the guys hawking camel rides are desperate for your business and it’s a bit intimidating. “No Thank You” does not seem to make an impact. It was non-stop and the boys and I felt overwhelmed at times, but certainly felt for them. After the Elephant Nature Park, we had no desire to ride a camel.

On our flight from Egypt to Rwanda… get this…. Buck got to fly in the cockpit with the pilots for the entire flight. No lie. The pilots were American and said they would be happy to have an additional Captain. Can you believe it? That would never happen EVER in the states! Buck got to experience take-off and landing from the jump seat in the cockpit. Jackson and I were incredibly jealous.

And now we are in Rwanda. We arrived on a night flight but instantly noticed two things in Kigali (pronounced CHI-gali). First the streets are spotless, not one piece of trash to be found, which was refreshing after India. The second was the smell, best describe as the “Sweet Scent of Earth” – Red clay earth… Incredible!  You can’t help but feel the connection to the land… and yes, the ghost of the genocide still lingers.  That horrible event that claimed nearly a million lives.

We arrived at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village late that night and were shown to our room. This is a school built for the children who were orphaned during the Genocide here in Rwanda.

We woke up the next day to the sight of deep-green rolling hills with patchwork fields as far as the eye could see…. And the clouds, whiter than white… the kind you can see animals and angels in.

We had arrived in the REAL Africa. The breeze, the smell, the view, the people. Yes, woman dressed in traditional, colorful dresses with pots, bags, twigs, bundles balanced on their heads. The kids and I laugh and say, “Do you think they do that for our benefit, or is it actually something they do when we are not around?” Our friends here at ASYV assure us that they do it all the time.

The teens here were shy with us at first. And we were a bit shy as well. Ends up that they speak English beautifully and they are the greatest. They are all teens up to 21 or so. We are working with a group of 20 students writing a one-act play about the first High School of Performing Arts in Rwanda… which, by the way, does not exist. Sounds like it might be a calling…

The show is going great. We have intertwined the traditional music and dance with some of the interests of the students… like hip-hop, romance, and humor. We will perform it the night before we leave.

The boys and I have also been invited to meet the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, His Excellency, Donald W. Koran. What an incredible honor. More to follow, as Rwanda unfolds before our very eyes.

Posted by JD in Rwanda, 20 comments