Going Away, after 6 months we leave Rwanda w/ great memories

In our final weeks in Rwanda we spent time with my colleagues visiting various lakes. One of our favorites was a weekend near Musanze. We met up with the University of Rwanda’s Head of the Animal Production Department, Eric Hantungimana and his family and spent the weekend on Lake Ruhondo. It was an exceptionally scenic place, with the mountains that make up the Volcanoes National Park as a backdrop. The food was amazing, the scenery incredible and the company wonderful.

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Video of our weekend on Lake Ruhondo

Another great place to visit in Rwanda is Lake Kivu. Over the 6 months in Rwanda we saw the lake from many perspectives. Starting at the southern end of the Lake, we visited Rusizi (which used to be called Cyangugu) during our Easter break. In May we spent a wonderful weekend at a resort called Rwiza where we saw the swimming cows of Karongi (formerly known as Kibuye). Finally, we spent a number of days and nights at Rubavu (previously known as Gisenyi). This was about an hour from the Busogo campus (where I taught for three months).

It was in Rubavu in late June that my colleagues hosted a going away party for me. With boat rides in the lake, sambaza and tilapia for dinner and great company, it was an unforgettable evening. A true cultural experience at Tam Tam Beach, with the same exceptional hospitality my colleagues offered us over the course of the entire semester.

 

 

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Activities with the University of Rwanda

As the semester ended, I wanted to share what I did in summary in Rwanda. My primary work at the University of Rwanda (UR) included teaching 5 courses on 2 campuses (Busogo and Huye). These were some of my students at the end of the semester in Busogo, where I invited the class for a dinner of soda, brochettes, and fries. I also gave a few awards based on academic performance.

However, there were numerous other activities I was asked to participate in, which took me to 3 other campuses.  Ruberizi campus (on the outskirts of Kigali, near the airport) was the first campus I saw, and one where we had a number of meetings over the course of the semester.

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Another campus was the UR Headquarters where we would have meetings with the upper administration. This was also where the Business School is located,  sometimes called SFB (School of Business and Finance by the local taxi drivers).

In May at the UR headquarters, I was asked to participate in a 3 day meeting about Scientific Writing in Agriculture. As a workshop participant, it was fun to spend time with colleagues, sharing ideas and presenting in a professional development setting.

Finally my last full week of work was spent at the Nyagatare campus where all of Animal Science may be moving in the future, in the extreme Northeast part of the country. Here I helped my colleagues write a number of grants for future funding of research and outreach projects in Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine.

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The Dry Season

Well, the dry season is upon us.  I think it is better know as the dust season!  Since we live on a dirt road, the red-brown dust is stirred up by the traffic and floats onto everything.  Below is a picture of the hedges in front of the place.  Unfortunately, the main road that most of the traffic takes (busses, trucks, etc.) was washed out in the rainy season, and the traffic was rerouted along our road. The dust was coming in and covering everything in the house.  Fortunately, the road is now repaired and all that extra traffic is not kicking up the dust on this road anymore – just the regular traffic.

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Also, we found out that the Tsetse flies are more active in the dry season in Akagera Park!  Last weekend we went with Ross, Chelsea, Alanna, and Steve, and they were a bit ferocious.  Below is a picture of what a bite looks like on me!  Luckily, my allergic reaction was milder this time around (I am still on the Zyrtec the doctor prescribed).  The bites and hives only itched like crazy for a few days and I didn’t get as many hives.  And this time I wore only neutral colors, long sleeves, etc. etc. and they still bit me through my clothes.  Drew wore two pairs of socks and they bit through those as well.  Very tough and determined nasty critters.  We saw loads of hippos, antelopes, including oribi and bush buck, but no elephants or lions.
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We went on a walking tour of Nyamirambo section of town, kind of a behind the scenes of Rwandan life.  It is one of the income-generating activities of the Nyamirambo Women’s Center.  We learned about the Women’s Center, visited a hair salon, tailor, people selling cassava flour, veggies, etc., saw men pressing suits with charcoal irons.  We learned that the stations in town that everyone goes to get water charge 50RWF for 20 liters.  Since this is the original Muslim section of town, we saw several mosques and learned that during the genocide, the people of Muslim faith hid their neighbors and others  in the mosques.  The perpertrators were scared to go into the mosques and unsure of Muslims so all those who hid there were saved.  We visited a women who was pounding cassava leaves with herbs to sell as fresh isombe.  I have to admit it smell delicious, with the garlic, etc., but the cassava leaves I have had were bitter and plain.  It was very interesting and enjoyable to learn about everyday life of the typical Rwandan.

They have a great website:  Women’s Center and Library and it is also the place where I have been volunteering at the NWC Library.

Finally, the baby crane is growing by leaps and bounds.  The parents are as protective as ever.  Three RDB (Rwandan Development Board) officials/veterinarians were here to check it out and I am suspecting maybe gave it some vaccinations, etc.  Not sure, but they were decked out in official garb (see pics in websites below).

We just found out that the whole family is moving to Akagera Park tomorrow!  They will become part of the crowned crane release program there!

Click on these links:

crowned cranes given a second chance in Akagera

from captivity to the wild in Rwanda

conserving grey crowned cranes in Rwanda

 

 

 

Imbabazi – One of my favorite Rwanda Attractions

Before we came to Rwanda we read a book called “Land of a Thousand Hills, My Life in Rwanda”, by Rosamund Carr. It was a fascinating history of one woman’s life in the Congo and Rwanda during some very turbulent times starting in the 1940’s. Both Janet and I wanted to visit her farm and cottage, the boys not so much so.

The farm lies 7 km off the main road , between Musanze and Rubavu along the Northern border of Rwanda. Rosamund or Roz lived for decades in Rwanda on a Pyrethrum Farm, which after the Genocide became an orphanage and more recently a pre-school.

The highlights for us were touring the wonderfully kept gardens, seeing her cottage and having lunch prepared by her former cook. The weather was really cool, as it sits in the shadow of Mt. Karisimbi, Rwanda’s tallest mountain. The guide we had was excellent and the whole experience was one of my favorite afternoons in Rwanda.

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Visiting the Huye Mountain Coffee Plantation and Washing Station

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I truly enjoy drinking coffee. With my trusty travel mug, I have coffee in the car, a bus, in my office, at home and even in class. My students in Rwanda wondered what was in the cup I would bring to class everyday. They had never seen a professor bring coffee (or any drink for that matter) in a travel mug to class.

From years of experience, I know there are many differences in the flavors of coffee, but I did not have any idea what makes some coffee taste great and others awful.

Being in Rwanda, where coffee is grown all over, I figured it was time to see in detail how coffee was made. Janet and I heard Huye Moutain Coffee offered a good tour, so on our weekend in Huye, we decided to add this to our itinerary.

http://huyemountaincoffee.com/spip.php?rubrique3

I did a little research and came up with a brochure with a contact name and number, and booked us for a Saturday afternoon tour. I had failed to tell Janet that you either did the tour on a bicycle or on foot. Being it was Huye Mountain Coffee, I guess I figured she knew we would be on a mountain. Anyway here are some photos of our informative and fun tour. My only recommendation is bring good walking shoes and for women, my wife would recommend not wearing a dress, especially on the “shortcut”

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For those of you in the USA, who would like to try a sample of Huye Mountain Coffee, here is the link:

https://www.stumptowncoffee.com/products/rwanda-huye-mountain

It is a bit pricey, but good coffee, from a company that treats it’s employees right is worth it.

Visiting the King’s Palace in Nyanza and Ethnographic Museum in Huye

For weeks I have been teaching at the University of Rwanda’s campus in Huye, which is in the southern part of the country not far from Burundi. Racing back to Kigali every weekend, I would pass the National Ethnographic Museum as well as the King’s Palace. Both were places Janet and I wanted to see, but Luke (our 15 year old) was not really interested in doing so.

At the end of my last week of teaching in Huye, Janet decided to meet me in Nyanza at the King’s Palace (See: http://museum.gov.rw/index.php?id=29 ) and then spend the night in Huye to visit the Ethnographic Museum the next day (See: http://museum.gov.rw/index.php?id=27 ).

While I had an interest in learning about the former Tutsi King, I was more interested in seeing and learning about the Inyambo cattle. These were the royal cattle of the King, who were trained to parade and perform. They have handlers who guide them, and sing and whistle to them.

 

They are also known as Ankole cattle or in the US sometimes as Watusi. However, the Inyambo are a royal line of pure animals of the breed, with incredibly impressive horns.

Janet had our “special” Taxi driver Assuman take her to Nyanza to meet me.  We asked him if he would want to bring along his two sons (Age 9 and 4). We hear him talk about them all the time, and given his work schedule, we know he would like to spend more time with them. To share the experience with these guys was not only fun, but with Assuman we also gained a native’s insight into everything we experience with him.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, I particularly enjoyed the cattle, and could have easily spent the whole day there with the handlers, learning about these animals. We ended the day by having dinner with Assuman and his sons at our hotel in Huye.

Happenings by Janet

Muraho,

Well, the weather is still beautiful (even if a bit too hot for my liking).   There are men along our road digging a ditch with shovels and pickaxes.  I asked what it was for and I was told it is for internet fiber optic wires.  Labor is inexpensive and abundant, so you see manual labor being performed everywhere.  The “official” unemployment rate is 3%, but I have also heard it is closer to 80- 90% in reality!  I still can’t get over the men carrying rocks, buckets of cement, and bags of gravel on their heads. Or for that matter the huge baskets of fruit, potatoes, etc. that the women carry.  Ouch!

Also, the amount of things that are carried on bicycles is ridiculously crazy as well!  It is impolite to take photos of people, but boy I wish I could!  Trying to get Drew to seek a few photos!  Can see the advantage of the iPhones with their picture taking app.  I think once we are back home it is time for an upgrade for me.

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The baby crane is growing and now looks a little out of proportion!  The parents are very attentive and take good care of it.  I read up a little and learned that while the eggs are incubating, the father sits on the nest during the day and the female incubates the eggs at night.  The young start to get plumage at 2-4 months, they stay with the parents 8-10 months, have adult plumage at 18 months, are fully mature at 2-3 years, and their lifespan is 20-40 years!

Last week there were heavy rains in the north, with landslides that destroyed houses and killed people (60+/-).  Very sad.  Soil erosion is a big problem here due to the farming up all the hillsides.  In addition, the rivers swelled and washed out roads and flooded bridges, so that for a few days travel was limited, since there is only one major paved road to each area of the country.  The 2.5 hour drive to Musanze was 4.5 since the way around the paved road was all dirt roads.

Ross is an unofficial College Graduate and has moved back to our place now that his program is over, much to Luke’s delight!  As soon as UNH receives his grades from his Rwanda program, they will release his diploma.  In the meantime he is volunteering at http://www.fhpuenterprise.org/programmes/pfhrwanda20/ Football for Hope.  He teaches English, coaches football, is helping to produce a promotional video, among other things!

Luke has finished his service project, building a playhouse for Kinamba Project (or Meg Foundation http://www.kinambaproject.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2 ) The boys (Luke, Leo, and Travis) will be delivering it in early June.  His school has a 20 hour service requirement per year.

And regarding service, Rwanda is a country in rebuilding mode.  It has been 22 years since the genocide, at which time most of the country consisted of villages and the infrastructure of the one city, Kigali was almost completely destroyed by the retreating forces.  They have come a long way.  Kigali is a thriving, growing city.  There is every charitable project you can imagine here from Heifer International and Give a Cow (the UK’s equivalent) to CARE.  Everything from agriculture to literacy help.  There are projects supported by countries from the US to Nigeria to Slovenia!  I am always seeing interesting project headquarters around the city.

One of the most fascinating energy projects is KivuWatt, which is generating electricity from the methane they are extracting form Lake Kivu.  They have 2 plants now up and running.  We saw the Kirongi operation when we went there.  The country wants to be self-sufficient in all areas, quite a challenge for a very tiny, highly populated, land-locked country!

How Rwanda Turned a Toxic Menace Into a Source of Power

That’s it for now!  Murabeho!