It’s Claro here writing from my room at the Civitas Hotel where I am relishing this period of adjustment and acclimatization to the newness of Rwanda.
Surprisingly, similar to Ramy’s experience in last night’s entry, I am also finding a strong sense of familiarity with the Rwandan atmosphere. Since my arrival I have been constantly drawing parallels to the many spaces I’ve occupied in my upbringing. I am especially seeing a lot of similarities between my native Philippines and the Rwandan culture, and it is interesting to negotiate simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and anxious excitement.
Easy like Sunday Morning…
Today’s relaxed tempo was a welcomed contrast to the whirlwind trips across the world that many of us in the team experienced these past few days making the trek from NYC to Rwanda. It wasn’t until today’s late and unexpectedly cool afternoon that we all reunited in the Civitas Hotel courtyard and ate lunch together. I was happy to see the team finally complete, together and healthy, jet lag aside of course.
At the courtyard, we were met by the smiling faces of our hosts Jean and Leon, Leon’s beautiful young son Lionel, and our driver Eric. They came to take us on a quick tour of Kigali and show us some of its key areas. And so after we finished off our African teas, coffees, fruit juices, and omelets we went off to see the city’s landscape.
Many thanks to Eric’s driving expertise and Jean and Leon’s knowledge of the city. The tour was fruitful as both an entry point into the culture and as a bonding moment for the team. I appreciated this shared experience and I believe it helped set a great tone for our collaborative efforts in the days to come. Helpful in making the tour even more memorable was our irresistible young companion Lionel who provoked and offered countless joyful moments throughout the afternoon- just ask us to show you some of the pictures we took and you’ll see what I’m talking about! We drove up hilly roads and witnessed the Kigali landscape go back and forth between urban and rural architecture. We made a stop at some cornfields to take snap shots of a panoramic view of Kigali as Leon spoke about the city’s history and present developments. We also later stopped in downtown Kigali and got a sense of its urban life and saw schools, shopping centers, and other such businesses up close. At one point as we walked around downtown Kigali, a KIE student named Magic spotted Helen and Chris and waved from a bus across the street. It was touching to see such a chance encounter happen in Kigali and I can only imagine how often such moments occur in such an intimate city.
The tour was short and sweet, and enough to whet my appetite in striving to discover more of Rwanda in the duration of our stay.
We returned to the Civitas Hotel and parted ways with Jean, Leon, Lionel, and Eric. We then took a brief moment to unwind before we regrouped back at the courtyard where Chris and Helen led a check-in session and preparation meeting for our team’s first day of Project Rwanda 2012 tomorrow. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow and I am thrilled to be able to finally engage the KIE community.
As this journey unfolds my relationship to Rwanda is already beginning to take on deeper meanings then I had expected. I am thankful for this opportunity and excited to move forward.