Today is our last day in Rwanda and we are all excited, yet sad at the same time to leave this wonderful country. We are happy to return to our regular ways of lives and to see our family and friends. But we are sad to leave the way of life we have created here and the friends that we have made within the community and elsewhere. These past few days have shown me that our relationship with the community is stronger than I have ever seen it, which is something that I am extremely thankful for. But before I go on expressing my thanks, it might be nice to know what we have done these last couple days.
Yesterday, we had a very delicious lunch with the community. The lunch was the typical Shakey’s style food, but 1000 times better. We had potatoes, rice, beans, cassava leaves, pasta, and meat all drenched in peanut sauce. We dined together with the chiefs and the secretaries of the villages. There was a ton of food and all the bowls were filled to the very top. It was hard for us to finish everything we had on our plates, but Jacques kept insisting that we keep filling them, especially “Samantha”. After we had finished the meal, Jacques expressed how grateful he and the community were with our work. We also made sure to express our thanks and mentioned that we were so happy that our friendship had grown to such an extent that they felt comfortable critiquing our systems, which will help us improve them in the future. Jacques then asked us to take pictures with the cooks and then with everyone that attended the lunch. Maguru (Japhet’s nickname, which means legs since he is so tall) was excited to take a picture next to the muzungu maguru (Travis).
After lunch, Hassan accompanied us to Musanze to help us with our bags. We embarked to Kigali packed in the Virunga bus. A girl sat next to me and immediately began to converse in English. This is something that I will truly miss from Rwanda and is something that I have never seen in any other countries that I have visited—the curiosity and the drive to learn from other people.
Today we woke up and all of Kigali was silent. Nobody was in the streets. This was due to a policy that Rwanda has that is quite remarkable where all the people must volunteer on the last Saturday of the month. After 11am, the streets swarmed again with life, so we took motos to grab a nice meal. We went to an Ethiopian restaurant called Habesha, which was absolutely delicious. I had accidentally eaten one of the hottest peppers I have had and even though I was tearing, Max decided he would try it as well—he suffered just as bad. Wally decided to try it too and said it was fine, even though he was massaging his forehead and breathing loudly. Between his breaths he told Sam that it was tasty and that she should taste it. She took a small bite. We then went to the genocide memorial, which was just as hard to see as the first time I had seen it. Visiting the memorial as well were famous Nigerian stars and political figures of East Africa. After the memorial, we went to a market where we each bought souvenirs. Max bought the whole Rwandan armory. We went to the convention center, which is a beautifully lit dome with the colors of the Rwandan flag. This place is heavily guarded, yet Max got all of his weapons through (Wally had told the guards that we came from shopping). We went in to find out that it was closed and left thereafter. We took motos to our last meal as a team in Rwanda at a Chinese restaurant, where we talked and watched the Rwanda’s Got Talent on the TV.
This trip has been a wonderful experience, which is attributable to the awesome team that shared these experiences with me. Travis, your help as a mentor is always exactly what the team needs. You helped us both with the engineering and the team bonding aspects of this trip. You are always fun to be around and your singing always brings in a new dynamic to our game of hearts or gin rummy. Speaking of singing, thank you Sam for bringing your happy smile everywhere we would go. Your happiness is unmatchable, which is no wonder why all the children loved being around you. You are going to be a killer PM. Max, your interest in the project was a huge asset to this trip. I am excited, as I am sure the whole team is, to have you as a design lead. Your knowledge and your interest in the project, which I had the fortune to see, is going to make you a perfect fit, even though you haven’t taken statics yet.
Ngaho Cyanika and Murakoze cyane!