Now that I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on my trip to Central/Eastern Africa (Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda) and Ethiopia, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I learned. Here’s my top 10 list of the things that will always stay with me from Africa, indelibly etched in my memory: Don’t like coffee? Sorry, too bad. You will be required to consume at least 2 cups of coffee every day that you’re in Ethiopia at the request of your hosts, friendly strangers, and curious villagers (who invite you into their homes). You will learn to appreciate the intricate ritual of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, performed carefully and respectfully with fresh cut grass, incense and a jebena. Don’t like being pulled into cultural dances? Sorry, this is also too bad. You will always become part of the exhibit with increasing likelihood the less you want to participate. It’s a combination of the locals laughing with you and at you, and sharing (or trying to share) the culture and tradition that’s steeped in them since birth. Of course the outcome is an utter spectacle. Alcohol helps with the shame. (I became part of this performance too a few minutes later. The more….
We started out on the road early, around 0800 since we had a big driving day ahead of us (about 5 hours) to transit the entire South-North expanse of Rwanda, through winding, mountain roads, not to mention several stops along the way. Today was the big day to really explore Rwanda’s history – from pre-colonial, to colonial, to neo-colonial, to modern….
On our second full day, we spent most of the time in the car on winding mountain roads, crossing from Bujumbura (Buja), Burundi into Butare, Rwanda. Before we left, Leslie captured this stunning photo of Vienne from the hotel, who toured with us the previous day – we later emailed it to him….
The day started over a nice breakfast on the beach. My favorite food items was sliced up avocado with stringy onions and carrots in lemon juice. I also enjoyed a bowl of granola with dried bananas and fresh yogurt atop. True to the Schaffer way (Schaffer is my mom’s side of the family’s last name, her maiden name), my grandfather brought a enormous plate of French breads back from the buffet line. We love the carbs….