Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Yes, I'm still alive

i apologize for not ever posting.

so, big ups and downs right now, i'll start with updates, and end with pictures!

firstly, rick left the country yesterday. this sucks, since he was one of my good friends here, but we all wish him the best in the usa. this is also good because i will now force him to send me new music from the states. and he needs to get back here pronto...

anyways, i just got back from rwanda, as many of you may know. brett, joe, amy, brad, and I went, and it was amazing. jesus, my writing has gotten bad. i've lost all sense of grandeur and flair. It was scrumtelescient. Between tantalizing scenery, loquacious nationals, powerful memorials, and gi-fucking-normous beers, the country was awesome. In addition, they served Hoegarden at a restaurant, which was well worth the seven dollars i paid to drink it. i only get one good beer or so a year, so i take the opportunities when they come.

We started off our trip in Kigale, then had a delectable array of gustatory pleasures dancing on our palates in Gitarama. The next day, we travelled to Gisenyi where we enjoyed the quiet beach and the Primus Brewery tour.

Primus is a Rwandan beer that comes in 72 cl bottles. It tastes good enough. The tour was quite different to the Sam Adams tour i took just before my departure for Uganda. Instead of plasma screens with animated brewers making beer, we were taken around the factory by a security guard. we had to wear goggles because bottles would occasionally explode. In our tour, there were no walkways, but we just walked around the floor. It was insane. We were ducking under conveyer belts and picking bottles off the line (empty bottles, don't worry).

We later went hiking in Parc du Volcanes Nationale, which is a group of volcanos in the northern part of the country. It is also where Diane Fossey (gorrilas in the mist) did her research. We didn't see the gorrilas (tracking them for a day costs 500 USD), but we did see some gorrila poop, as well as some incredible views and a crater lake at the top of the mountain we climbed (Mt. Bisoke, 3711 meters). I decided to undertake the climb in the only shoes with me, whose soles are closer to skis than hiking treads. I made it in one piece, although i ruined the track jacket that i had purchased the day before.

While in Kigale, we visited a genocide memorial museum that was incredibly well done. It focused largely on the build-up and cause of the genocide, and is attached to an educational center which aims to prevent such catastrophe from happening again.

The other memorial we visited in Gikongoro was very different. At a technical college where 50,000 Rwandans were massacred, bodies of victims had been exhumed and preserved with lime powder, then set in rooms by the score to be seen by visitors. It was very intense, and I don't know how to comment on it.

We ended our trip back in Kigale after a brief respite in Butare. There was food, there was dance, there was drink, and we had a blast. We also played tennis at the Hotel Milles Collines, which is the hotel from Hotel Rwanda!

Now, it's back to site and back to work. I'm throwing a Diwali party on saturday, so i'll post about that as soon as i get a chance.

Also, thanks to sheila for sending me a shit ton of hot sauce. it has greatly alleviated the blandness problem of ugandan food. unfortunately, imbibing copious amounts of tobasco sauce leads to a level of tolerance that depreciates the effectiveness of each successive bottle. coupled with a dependence rarely seen outside of class IV narcotics, this could be the beginning of a desparate slide into hot sauce addiction... more to come