Can you see it, can you hear it, can you imagine it?
After my arrival in Nairobi a little over a week ago I am now taking some time to get to a computer to share some of my thoughts…
My arrival in Nairobi was met with anticipation for the unknown and immediately my expectations were met with a pleasant, yet edgy capital city of Kenya. I would have never dreamed of returning to Africa twice in one year, but that is what has transpired for me. I arrived late so after a good night’s sleep I awoke to an unexpected day of hiking across the forest within the city. I set out to meet my new friend “Collins” the kind man who was securing my gorilla trekking permits for Rwanda. We met at the Nairobi Museum and come to find out that Collins was an expert birdwatcher who has the most knowledge of anyone I know about birds, plants, and species, however before we would get to the forest, I would have my very first Matutu (or minibus) experience… This is not for the faint of heart, however, I will write more about that later. Ten Kilometers, hundreds of birds, plants, trees, and a spectacular waterfall later we ended the day listening to Congolese life music enjoying a Tuskers beer. In the morning I set out on a safari to Masai Mara and home to the Masai people. My safari was simply spectacular with hundreds if not thousands of wildebeests, giraffes, lions, elephants and every imaginable type of animal one would expect to see in Africa. The Great Rift Valley stretches between Israel to Mozambique and cuts across Kenya like the Grand Canyon – it is a vast swath of area full of picturesque views worthy of postcards and exotic artificial movie sets, but for me, this is something that I witness for real, although it still feels very unreal. The visit to the Masai village could easily be a highlight amongst a growing list of highlights. The Masai live a very primitive lifestyle and are welcoming was one for my memory to never forget (I will write more about these experiences later). The day ends with a visit to a school nearby which challenges my notion of what constitutes a school – simple building, external bathrooms similar to outhouses, an external ‘kitchen’, however when I spend some time with teachers I quickly realize the challenges with hunger, long distances which children come from (upwards of 7 kilometers per day by foot), and access to educational materials. However, the quest for knowledge by the school kids isn’t a part of the equation. Children eagerly make the journey daily and along they are responsible for bringing water and branches to contribute to the materials needed for preparing daily meals at the school. So as I go out daily I witness a migration of a different kind, the smiling faces of school children on their journey to school.
I am now in Kigali, Rwanda for a brief overnight and then I am off to trek the rare North African gorilla in what could be one of the top experiences I have ever had in my life on Monday, March 14. 2011. My initial thoughts of Rwanda are captured simply as this could be the most beautiful place on earth (and I have been a few places). The earth is an amazing red color so vibrant that these words can’t even do the description justice, but when you look at all the green from the lush vegetation from rolling hills you can easily miss the darkest blue skies I have ever seen with clouds that could easily be marshmallow pillows… The children here are eager to say hello and wave as I walk by. Everyone looks curiously at me as I walked around town, but everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. It is truly a wonderful place to be and it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I am taken aback by the facts of history that such a wonderful place is also the home of humanity’s greatest crimes. I will learn more about the tragic history when I return to Kigali later in the week and during my school visits and time spent at the Rwanda Genocide Museum. I am short of time on this computer, so I will write more later… So I leave you with the thought of closing your eyes and imagine a place with lush vegetation in about a thousand shades of green, bright red soils, baby blue skies with those ultra-white marshmallows, plus toss in some chirping birds in the background… Can you see it, can you hear it, can you imagine it? I glance over the top of this computer I am typing on and I guarantee I am blessed to be living it…”