Sunday, November 7, 2010

Home To Rwanda

A couple of weeks ago I hopped on a plane to Rwanda.  Nairobi and the chaos and the people and the aggressive life in that city, coupled with my intense loneliness was just too much to bear.  I needed to go home.  When had Rwanda become home?  Wasn't I homeless in a sense?  I do not own a "house" in Las Vegas anymore since I short sold it almost a year ago, another victim of the Vegas housing collapse.  I rent month to month in Kenya.  I have stuff scattered across three countries.  Home is where you feel loved.  I needed to know Rwanda was still home. It had been almost four months since I had seen Zulu, Kongo, the riders, my friends almost two months since I had seen Jock and Max.  Was it still home?

I flew in on a Wednesday morning as the wheels touched down I knew this was where I needed to be at this moment.  Rwanda, always so beautiful from the plane.  It still fills my heart with a sense of hope, a purpose to my life, the reason I live in Africa when I hear the landing gear come down and we approach the tarmac.  A long drawn out breath escaped my lungs.  I do not have this sense when I land in Kenya or any where else in the world.  Only Rwanda.  My love/frustration relationship continues.

I walked off the plane, no baggage checked, it's Africa, I travel light, a backpack my only luggage.  I jump on the back of Jock's motorcycle and it's as if life never skipped a beat.  We run around Kigali on errands and within a couple of hours we are heading up the hill out of Kigali to Musanze.  God, I missed this.  I missed being on the back of this motorcycle, weaving up the mountain road, dodging people, goats, buses.  It is so beautiful.
I was worried Zulu, our puppy wouldn't remember me.  It had been since the first week in July.  As I got off the bike all 125+ pounds of him tackled me like it was just a couple of hours since we had last seen each other.  Mama was home.  I missed that little bowling ball noggin head boy.  We would be inseparable for the next four days.  I had a lot of loving to give and he had a lot of girl coddling to catch up on.  

I was so happy to see and hug Max.  We had had so much fun riding in California and just hanging out.  Rwanda is not an easy place for Max, but I completely admire his commitment to Jock and the Team.  Most young men easily would have bailed by now and Max always says to me, I will not leave Jock.

The riders were all out on a training ride.  I was glad I came a day early so I could see them at camp.  I met Jennifer Nydam, Scott's wife and the replacement "girl" factor in the boy's lives at camp.  She is a godsend! Jennifer and her talented husband gave up three months of their lives to live in Rwanda, train the boys and for Jennifer, do stinky laundry every day of camp.  She is energetic, dynamic, talented and has a huge heart.  

The second I heard the motorcycles beep their horns and Joseph open the gate I went out onto the porch.  We hadn't told the boys I was coming just in case something fell through.  I just stood on the porch and waited.  As each of them came in and we saw each other, bikes were dropped and boys and I were yelling and hugging.  I couldn't have imagined a better homecoming.  The missing factor was equal on both sides.  I just wanted to hug them and never let go, each and every one of them.  Their smiles so beautiful.  I have never felt to loved.

I spent that first day getting to know Clark, Scott and Jen and loving on Zulu, Kongo and the boys.  Clark is another giving human being, also donating his incredible coaching talent to helping the riders prepare for the Continental Championships and the Tour of Rwanda.  A former National Cyclocross Champion in the 90's Team Rwanda has the best of the best teaching them how to be the best riders in Africa.

I also just hugged on the riders....a lot.  Actually I needed it more than they did on this day.

Thursday morning I made breakfast.  That is really all I wanted to do.  I wanted to cook for the boys.  Of course, I tend to never do anything quietly, it quickly became a full on Moki force of nature as I realized we were not prepared, no eggs, no oatmeal nothing ready for the morning.  What?  No bananas?  I ran to the market, got back, made breakfast for 20 riders and by 9:30am was on my bike training the four girls who were there for training for the Continental Championships.  I was teaching them how to pace line.  Didn't matter to me, I was on a bike, riding with the Team in Rwanda.  All was perfectly right in my world.  

So...for the next couple of days, I rode, I loved on my animals, my boys and just breathed....the stress evaporated.  I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  I was home.

In four days I loved, laughed, spent time with friends, met the dynamic Peb Jackson (formerly of Saddleback Church) and Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray, had a close call death defying motorcycle accident and lived....lived the life I love.

I was talking to my ex husband the other night.  I was telling him about the documentary movie they are finishing at the Continental Championships this week Rising From the Ashes.

As I was telling him about the movie I became so emotional, talking about Adrien's shot at the Olympics and everything happening in the next month.   He simply said, "I know where your heart is." 

He is right....Rwanda is not only where my heart is, my very unconventional "family" in Rwanda is my home.