So yesterday we took a long and bumpy ride to Kibeho, a hill where the there is a church to commemorate the visitation of the virgin mother in three vision to young girls. This is the only site in all of Africa that the Catholic Church has officially decreed the visions of the virgin mother to be real. We got to meet with the priest and a nun who gave us a brief history, and then we went to the shop and bought a few things. On our way towards the car we stopped into the newer church that is very large and got to hear two local people as they sang songs in Kinyarwanda and prayed. While I myself am not particularly religious, I do have a respect for other religions and do enjoy going to different churches and religious sites. This one was particularly interesting because one of the visions that one of the girls had was that of the impending genocide, more than 10 years before it occurred. This site has a lot of cultural importance for not just the region, but for all of Rwanda. The visit was brief, but it was an important one that I'm glad we got to experience.
A quick side note, since I haven't really talked much about what it is like meeting people and some of you may be wondering. The people here are AMAZING! I've never met people that are so nice, helpful, and truly interested in what I have to say. One of the things that I had to adjust to early on was being stared at. It never really bothered me, but from time to time I'd turn around and see a group of people giggle and quickly look away. It is completely harmless, and now we all joke about it in our group and like to say hello in Kinyarwanda and wave while we drive by. Everyone is always surprised that we are making the effort to learn some of their language so we can at least say hello, and thank you. Also, it is important to note that when driving around the country side you will here people, mainly children, shout "MUZUNGU!" and stare. The word is a mistranslation from Swahili, but roughly means white man. In its original language it meant traveler, but it was misunderstood, and mispronounced many years ago, so now it basically means white man. Yesterday on our return drive from Kibeho we were going particularly slow because of a massive rut in the road. There was a little boy about 5 or 6 standing outside of his house with his mother not far behind. He was staring so I waved and he waved back, then I said "Muraho" which is the formal hello. The kid stumbled back with his mouth hanging open and looked at his mother. She waved and started laughing. Just that one little moment was great, and every moment we are here we get to meet more people, and experience more things.
Ok, so back to what we did. After the church we went to the church's dining area where we had an amazing meal, and it was incredibly cheap. For a full buffet just for our table and a soda it was roughly $4.46! We took the long and windy road back towards the hotel. It is incredibly bumpy, but we actually liked it a lot. Our guide, Omar, joked that he was giving us a free massage, he is generous like that. ;-) When we got near the hotel we returned to yesterday's museum to see the one thing we missed yesterday... THE DANCING! Part of our trip included a paid professional dance group to show us their native dancing. We got to see a variety of different dances that come from many different parts of Rwanda. The dancing was one of the greatest things I've seen on the trip. We had a taste of it in the village of reconciliation, but this was professional quality, and was stunning to watch. I got a ton of pictures and some video too, so when I have reliable internet I'll post those on my facebook. At the end of the dancing everyone was taken onto the dance area and they danced with the dancers. Then they offered to pose with us and have our pictures taken with them. Once we did that they decided it would be great for us to dress in their dancing clothes and take a picture with them. So we did and then we made them all laugh when we started doing our own poses in the costumes. Manny and I posed like we were in gladiator warrior positions, fighting to the death and all of the dancers couldn't stop laughing. We got pictures of this to and it was absolutely amazing!
After that we went back to the hotel for a couple hours, and then most of us walked to into town and had a delicious dinner. We then walked back and hung out for a little bit before I snuck off to bed, which may be the best decision I've made, since deciding to come to Rwanda! Well I hope everyone is enjoying my blog, feel free to share it with anyone that you think might find it interesting. I'm very surprised and pleased to see that people are reading it and hear from people on the trip that their family members are reading it! You are all welcome to read it and I am grateful that you are enjoying it. All of my groupmates have been great and I am so happy that this is the group we have. We get each other, and help each other when needed. It is a great feeling to know that I have made friends so fast.
Below are some pictures. I have to head out for the day, but I have dancing pictures I will try to add to the bottom of this post tonight. Enjoy!
|My netted bed. I've gotten used to it and kind of like it now.|
|Beautiful view of the day. Every turn reveals another beautiful view|
|The 2nd car bringing us to Kibeho. You can see the people on the side of the road staring.|
|Tea growing in a field. Yum!|
|Church on Kibeho|
|The WCU warriors|
|The fierce warriors go to battle|