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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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.

A Weekend with Swimming Cows and Straw Colored Fruit Bats

Lake Kivu alone is a fascinating lake, in part because of its clear waters but also its unique hydrology and environment that has prevented animals like crocodiles and hippos from living there.

We had heard there was a tourist attraction where you could visit a farmer who swam his cows from island to island to get fresh grass, much like a farmer might do if they were moving their cattle or other animals from pasture to pasture. For me, this was an experience I could not miss during our short stay in Rwanda.

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For our weekend we decided to stay at Rwiza Lodge in Kibuye or now called Karongi, which was quite unique given the many options available in the lakeside town. Sitting on a steep hillside overlooking the lake, it was a great place to watch the sun setting while seeing the fisherman go out into the lake with their huge dugout canoes.

The men fish all night long in pursuit of the little fish called isambaza (Limnothrissa miodon), which were apparently introduced as a fish, which now constitute the major fishing industry on the lake. There are opportunities to go out with the men for a fee, but being all night in a leaking wooden boat, while it is raining with lightning and thunder was not my idea of fun. However, the fish when fried and fresh were great with a beer.

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