The 22nd anniversary of start the Rwandan Genocide was April 7th. Every year in Rwanda there are 100 days of mourning (almost one third of the year!) for those lost in the 100 day genocide from April - July, 1994. All Rwandans must participate in government mandated and controlled meetings for the "commemoration week," and thus, most foreigners up and leave.
I struggled a bit if I should stay or leave. Ultimately, I decided to take advantage of the time off, and also get away from the heaviness of it all - the air is really, truly heavy in Rwanda - , and booked a flight to Zanzibar.
(More on that later).
Last Thursday I arrived home after a week of bliss in Tanzania. I gave Mushu some loving and went outside to grab a moto to run some errands (stock the fridge, get cat litter, buy electricity coupons from random people outside, etc). When I hiked up my long skirt, threw my leg over the moto, grabbed my purse close to me and gave the driver a confident, "OK!" It hit me...riding the motorcycles makes me feel like I am home.
Rwanda has one thing really going for it that other Fellow placements do not have - ease of transportation. As a solo female, I can grab a moto and get anywhere I need to in town for less than $1.50. It's more expensive than the bus, but faster and more convenient (and less smelly). Sure, motorcycle taxies are ridiculously dangerous. I've seen 2 horrific accidents, and peace corps volunteers are not even allowed to take them on paved roads. But we fellows are not bound by State Department rules, and motos are my main form of transportation in Kigali.
It's a feeling I get when I get on the moto after being on a trip where I was confined to taxis and busses. It's somewhere between fearing impending death and imagining all the ways it could happen (the helmet is worthless, the moto is going to slide, the driver is high/drunk, someone is going to hit us, etc) and the feeling of absolute freedom as the wind blows past my shoulders and we zoom up and down the never-ending hills of Rwanda - green growth and brown and red earthen colors beneath an ever-reaching blue sky.
Riding a moto. It's a feeling I only have in Rwanda. It's the feeling of coming home.
walk slow. xoxo.