The moment I step off the plane the warmth and humidity settle on my skin as I smell the slightly smoky air of a major city which is at the same time fresh - infused with eucalyptus. The tactile and olfactory essence of this place immediately takes me back to the last time I was here. Even though I anxiously wait for my bags to appear on the carousel, the knowledge that there is a friend waiting for me outside settles my nerves. The drive from the airport is relaxed. Christophe and I catch up on the last few years as I gaze out the window at the galaxy of lights running through the valley and up the hills.
|View near new apartment|
Although the apartment is new (and beautiful), I quickly reorient to the city and landmarks. The remainder of the weekend – aside from sleeping – is sent visiting favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The downtown core feels comfortable, my pace slows to match the locals and the heat – except for when I cross the street, timing my stride to the meet the gaps between motos and cars. Our good friend Emmy comes to pick me up for a chat over a Mutzig at the famed Guma Guma bar in Nyamirambo just under the old apartment.
|Old Guma Guma bar|
Returning to Rwanda gets easier every time. It’s a unique experience for me to visit another country where we know so many friends. The Dal Health Office and Anesthesia and CASIEF have created an amazing interconnected group of people. There is a completely different feeling when you’ve known local staff for years, met their families, hosted them in your home, and been hosted by them in their home. All plans and discussions start with the background of mutual respect and a shared history. This obviously changes how priorities are set and plans are executed.
|Mary, Rediet, Patty, Eugene, Alain, Christian, Stephen, Chris, Dave, and Gaston|
|Gaston, Dave, Patty, Christian, Alain, Stephen|
Jon, Chris, Eugene
Culture underlies everything we do. Despite our experience and interpretation by our friends, we have misunderstandings and missteps. Even Patty on her 14th trip to Rwanda emphasizes that she’ll likely never fully understand the intricacies of the culture here. We try our best, but we will never replace the knowledge of our Rwandan colleagues.
|Road near new apartment|