Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Well, there is very little of 2012 remaining. And as of today, I have been here four months. It is going by very quickly.

As planned, on Nov. 22 we left on our trip to Nyangwe National Park. There were nine of us plus the two drivers. They used a Range Rover and a big 4-wheel Toyota to ferry us about. It took several hours to get there and we almost didn't go. The night before our departure, based on the reports from the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, there was fighting with the M23 rebels in the South Kivu area (Goma is in North Kivu). Seemed safer not to go. When we got up the next AM, one of our group called the Embassy again and the officer in charge said it would be fine for us to go. I guess M23 had cleared out of there.
So we dressed and headed out. Here is the sign at the entrance to the park.
Just outside the gate we arrived at our guest houses, a long line of cottages named for monkeys. Mine was the Great Horned Owl monkey. We put our bags away and went for a walk. Suddenly, I became ill, feeling like car sickness, but someone said it might be altitude sickness. Whatever it was I could just barely get to my bed to lie down. I didn't even go to dinner. The next AM I seemed OK, so set out on a birdwalk. We were inside the rainforest, a very interesting place. Huge ferns, delicate flowers, these photos do not do justice at all. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park!

We had just gotten well into our birding when I got very sick again. Dizzy, throwing up. We had brought along an extra porter for that hike so once I could get my bearings, he led me out. He held tight to my hand the whole way out. We had to wait by the side of the road for quite a while as the others wanted to finish their walk. Here is a photo of my sweet little porter. He could speak a little English. He told me proudly that he had 16 American movies, Chuck Norris, Rambo, etc. He made a little cushion for me out of leaves with a big fern leaf on the top. Actually, quite comfy.

Once we got back to our camp, I decided I'd better cash it in as far as hiking was concerned. Others went on different hikes in the afternoon while I rested. I never felt entirely well for the remainder of the time. On Saturday, I graded papers out on the lawn of the restaurant at the cottages. Just as I finished, I looked up to see baboons walking all around me! Apparently they come there every afternoon. Big Daddy baboons down to tiny babies hanging on to their mothers' fur. I did not have my camera with me so got no photos. I just sat still and watched the show. No one fed them (you are warned not to). They just moved around slowly, eating grass.

We were then taken to a reconstructed Rwandan village. We saw the King's house, the milk house, the beer house, etc. We were also entertained by a few dances. The Rwandan dancing is very graceful, by both women and men. We learned that until the 1950s, many Rwandans were still living in this type of village with a King. Not very long ago at all.

When we left on Sunday to return to Kigali we stopped at a national ethnographic museum in Butare. Very beautiful things. I was oh, so, glad to return to Byumba that afternoon.

This past week was filled with my last four days of teaching. I cannot begin to tell you all that went on in that class. I certainly learned a lot. The last day I had a snack brought in at the end of class: African tea (mostly milk and sugar with a little tea thrown in) and Sambusas, a little triangular wrap with ground beef and spices inside. They bring the tea in large thermoses you'll see on the table. The remainder of this blog is photos and videos of my students at their party.

I have added two videos toward the end above, but I can't seem to get them to play. Both are of the students singing for me. I love that.

One final word about the men fighting in the Congo. I am not anywhere near where that is going on. The U.S. Embassy in Kigali sends us periodic information about what is happening and where we should not be going. I am relying on them to tell me if things get dangerous. I have everything I need to be evacuated if there is an emergency. We have excellent evacuation insurance and a company who can airlift us out from anywhere in the country. Please do not be alarmed by news reports you get there. You seem to get more than we do, but some of it is inflated.

So glad not to be teaching tomorrow. I have to figure out my students' grades this week and move on to some other projects. Jerome has an idea a minute about what we should be doing! Sometimes I have to slow him down a little as his ideas usually involve me doing the work!!

I'll be going on another trip (no hiking in the rainforest!) this month, for four days starting Dec. 18. We'll go by Range Rover to Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda. It is supposed to be very beautiful and we will go on a couple of game drives while there. This again is with colleagues from the project.
A game drive is where you stand up in a truck with an open roof and look for animals!

Enough!! Good night.

1 comment:

  1. Love all your photos! And I was able to view your videos! :) Sorry to hear you kept getting sick.