Thursday, May 7, 2009

More Musings over Musanze

More thoughts on my day to day adventures in Rwanda....
  • People are everywhere. You can never find a "quiet" rode to meander. With most cars priced out of the range of 90% of Rwandas, everybody walks. Yesterday on the road to Cyanika throngs of people covered the road. Rwanda is the most densely populated of all African countries. In 2005, the population of Rwanda was 9.04 million. It increased a million between 2000 and 2005 and they are projecting a growth of over 2 million people by 2015. With an average fertility rate of 5.74 children per mother children are everywhere. Currently over 40% of the population of Rwanda is under the age of 15. This is going to pose huge challenges for this underdeveloped country in the near future. We must find a way to bring in more enterprise to this tiny country. They do not need anymore NGO's distributing aid. They need businesses in the free enterprise market to produce jobs and spurn more businesses. If this does not happen the country will not move forward and may in fact decline due to the overwhelming population unemployed and impoverished.
  • The faces of the people....beautiful, inquisitive, shy, striking, solemn, haunting. On my ride with Team Rwanda yesterday on the road to Cyanika (Uganda) I see it all. The male adults tend to look and generally they say something which unfortunately I do not understand the Kinyarwanda. I am going to learn more Kinyarwanda simply because I have a feeling I might want to know what is being said about me. The women tend to look at me like I stepped off Mars. White skin and blonde hair in Rwanda is akin to six eyes and three legs in America. I always make a habit of saying Muraho (Hello) or Amakuro (How are you?) to people as I pass whether it's on my bike or walking. I try to make that connection. What's funny about many of the women, carrying their heavy loads of crops, wood or water on their heads, they will point at me and whisper to each other if they're in a group. If they are alone often they will tentatively raise their hand to wave at me. I'm definitely a curiosity to them. I wonder about their lives. How difficult each day must be for them. I complained about not having water the last two nights at the house. They carry water on their heads for miles and it's not even drinkable. And the children..............
  • Children are so beautiful. Most are barefoot which is disturbing because it is actually quite cool in Musanze as we are at approximately 5,000 feet in the Virunga mountains. A few days ago when I was riding along the road to Gisenyi I came up on a little girl carrying a jug of water. It was about 10:30am, she couldn't have been more than four or five years old and she was all alone. She just stared at me with these HUGE eyes as I approached her. Her mother was no where in the vicinity. This tiny girl was all alone on a busy mountain road hauling water to her home. I wanted to scoop her up and take her home with me. I'm not sure what the school system encompasses here in Rwanda. I don't know if it's state run and funded and to what extent. I see many children in their uniforms going to school. Everyone wears a uniform. For the boys it's generally a khaki shirt and shorts, the girls wear these royal blue dresses. However, for all the children I see attending school I see just as many who do not. Education is the only way out of the tiny mud huts of Musanze for these children. The life of a subsistence farmer, their potential future, is bleak. What causes me to get most emotional are the children. They wave they shout they want to run alongside my bike just to have me "fist bump" them. And they LAUGH...the most infectious laugh. Riding has always been pure joy for me. To ride in Rwanda is to ride in heaven.
  • Coca Cola Light, a poor saccharin laden substitute for Diet Coke, is hard to come by. One personal vice I have is a Diet Coke once in a while. Unfortunately, the only store that carries it is run by a man from the Middle East who charges me 900 Francs or $1.80USD for one can! I'm going down there today to strike a deal for the next four months on the price. However, perhaps I am fortunate it is so expensive at least I won't die like the lab rats at the FDA!

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