When we came to Rwanda we didn’t know anything about the country. When we thought of Africa we pictured what we’d been shown all of our lives, which is a vast, flat desert with wide open plains. Wild animals wonder about, and every once in a while you would see a person.
Rwanda is not a desert. It is the most lush and green place I have ever been. It is also anything but flat. They call it the land of a thousand hills, and for good reason. Our site in Rubengera is nestled in the western hills of Rwanda. We are also very close to Lake Kivu (chee-voo). For only 500 Rwandan francs (less than 1 dollar) we can take a 20 minute bus ride to Kibuye, where we can get good food, and the most spectacular view.
Lake Kivu is a magical place! You can take a boat out to an island and view the thousands of bats who live there. One of the islands even has a monkey! Your boat driver may be Niyomugabo Jackson, who competed in the London Olympics. He learned to swim by swimming between the islands on Lake Kivu. We, of course, do not swim in the lake because of schisto, the resident parasite.
On the far side of the lake is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Peace Corps Volunteers can not go to the DRC. I was reading Half the Sky and learned that the Kivu region of the DRC is a terrible place for women, with the most rapes per capita in the entire world. It is a strange feeling to sit in Paradise, while you gaze out at one of the most terrifying places on Earth. We feel very blessed to live where we do. Our hearts go out to those poor people who are forced to live in fear while they stare across the lake at Paradise.
This is post number 7 of my Peace Corps Series.