Photo taken by the author
“One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.”
– Henry Miller
In the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to Africa, where I went to volunteer with an NGO, HOPEthiopia, through my local church.
I went with a mission’s team for two weeks and stayed for another month after, totalling six weeks in all. Our team stayed one week in Rwanda and one week in Ethiopia, where I spent the rest of my time.
It was a really cool experience being in Africa, on the other side of the world! Many times I caught myself thinking, “I am actually in Africa and walking on African soil!”
Africa had been a dream of mine in the making for the last twelve years.
I had wanted to go with this really amazing couple, Ralph & Glenda, on a mission’s trip since I was in high school. For various reasons, the timing didn’t work out in prior years, but last summer the proverbial door was opened for me to go.
As for my experience, I absolutely loved Rwanda right from the start.
It is known as “the land of a thousand hills and a million smiles.”
How true this is. I think I became a happier person just by being there.
We spent most of our time in Kigali, the capital city, and it was so clean, well-organized and orderly.
The Rwandese people were so welcoming and would often take the initiative to wave a warm hand of greeting.
I can distinctly remember one particular morning, where I was on the patio of my room early in the morning. A few locals walking by waved and smiled to me while I was taking in this beautiful start to the day.
Rwanda has three official languages (Kinyarwanda, English and French), while Ethiopia has 80 languages, with some 200 dialects.
One cool adventure I had in Rwanda was running.
In the seven days I was there, I was able to run three times, all first thing in the morning.
I ran alone, which heightened this running experience, as I was in a country and geography that was entirely new to me and my senses. I felt totally safe and got a lot of eyes staring at me, as I was the only white dude running on the streets; nevertheless, it was a thrill for me.
I found three different routes over the course of my runs, one for each day.
The most adventurous was running on a red-dirt road directly behind the place we were staying. I considered this the countryside, as it was away from the busyness of the city, and a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, which is what I was searching for.
The road went on for several kilometres, and as the road traversed up and down, left and right, I did not know where it would take me or how much longer it would go on for.
But, on day three, I kept going until I was a full semi-circle of the trail from my hotel and could see it in the distance across the deep valley that laid beneath me. It was a breathtaking view to take in through my optical sense.
I felt free here, through exercising and listening to a set playlist on my iPod (which consisted mostly of “pump-me-up-kind-of-songs”), in a very remote part of the city, of a country, and continent I had not set foot in until days before.