In Kigali, Remembering Rwanda

I had forgotten what it means to be in Rwanda.  The smell of eucalyptus, burning charcoal, grilled meat, acacia blooms, greywater turning black, plumeria flowers, yeast bread leavening and humidity from tropical plants.  I had forgotten the intensity of the sun, the haze in the air in the dry season.  I had forgotten the rush of air flying past on the back of a moto, weaving through Kigali traffic at night.  I had forgotten the staring- of being an outsider.  I had forgotten the quiet, warm, welcoming nature of Rwandan people.

I had forgotten so many words, and then found them.  Amakuru, nimeza, murakoze, ijoro giza, maramutse, amata, amazi, amahoro....

I had forgotten what it is like to be sticky and hot all day.  I had forgotten the sweet bubbly taste of fanta citron.  I had forgotten the earthy and bitter tastes of ibishimbo and inorgi.  The rich and smooth taste of umuceri and isombe.

I delighted in seeing faces of friends.  Of learning the joy, pain, successes and challenges from the past three years.  I am reminded of what it is like to have your heart wide open.  What it feels like to be living on the edge.  What it truly means to be a resilient person.  To be strong, compassionate, adaptable, hopeful, to love in this complex world.

The nostalgia I feel brings up many memories of friends and experiences we had. It makes me think of being pattern illiterate in a cultural context, of learning to have new eyes, new ears and a humbleness and patience to explore the unknown.

Murakoze Rwanda.  I am happy to be back.

View from the top of the new public library in Kigali, Rwanda


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