Last month, when work took him to Rwanda’s southwest corner, D was reminded of two things: how beautiful this country is and why we haven’t traveled much inside Rwanda during our second year here.
A similar trip early in our tenure had established the southwest as D’s favorite part of Rwanda; if it weren’t so far from the capital, we would have made an effort to visit it much more often. After the recent rains, the route was even more painful than D had remembered. It took close to six hours of stomach-churning driving on serpentine, partially destroyed roads to cover the 250 kilometers from Kigali to Cyangugu, but it was well worth it. L’Hoest monkeys frolicked by the roadside when D’s car passed through Nyungwe National Forest and a gentle sunset awaited on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Having a second child midway through this assignment reduced our tolerance for long, winding, bumpy car rides, but even before the baby we had made a conscious decision not to try to explore every one of Rwanda’s thousand hills. For example, we have visited Volcanoes National Park on several occasions – to see the gorillas and the golden monkeys – but we have not climbed any of the peaks that lend the park its name. After summiting Kilimanjaro and hiking Mt. Kenya, the draw just wasn’t there.
In a way, it doesn’t really matter whether one spends two days or two years in a country: there is always bound to be some box left unchecked. We barely scratched the surfaced of all that Belgium has to offer during our recent trip there, for example, but even spending two weeks driving South Africa’s Garden Route gave us multiple ideas for a return visit, the Otter Trail being tops amongst them. In fact, we prefer it this way. Leaving a few stones unturned provides the perfect excuse to return one day.
As the sun sets on our Rwanda tour, we have been buffeted by a predictable mix of emotions. We don’t know when we’ll be back again – or even if – but we’re keeping a mental short list of things left undone just in case.