Africa is, truly, very very different from Canada. The people! The views! And (as mentioned before) the Kamikaze drivers!
This past Sunday I traveled to several small villages in the east of Rwanda (roughly a 2 hour walk from the Tanzanian border) with some friends, and visited the people there. It was amazing! All of the people that I met were very kind and friendly, despite the fact that they didn’t speak English or French, so all conversations were through a translator. The views, magnificent! In the last village that we went to there were kids EVERYWHERE! When we arrived about 60 kids started chasing our car, and kept up since we were going slowly (terrible roads). And then when I got out they swarmed me and I ended up shaking all 120 hands proffered, since I was one of only two muzungus (white people) in the car, and the other is was an adult lady, and everyone knows that adults aren’t fun! So I start walking toward the Baha’i Center, and have to be careful not to step on any of my honor guard (all 60 of them). Later, when I had some free time, I climbed the massive hill/smallish mountain next to the village. The view from the top was great. And the whole time I was climbing up, all 60 little squirts were standing at the bottom of the hill, watching me. When I came barreling down the hill (its hard to go slowly when going down, yeah?) they all ran with me when I reached the bottom and followed me yelling a phrase in Kinyarwanda. The phrase involved “muzungu”, and judging by how loudly they were yelling it sounded like they were trying to tell the whole valley that “there is a crazy white man here!” Special.
Allow me to give more detail for those of you who have never travelled to Africa (and are white, brown, yellow, red, pink, blue, green…anything but black). Being a muzungu (which includes all previously mentioned skin colors) is like being a celebrity. You drive along in your vehicle, and every little kid you pass yells “MUZUNGU!!!!!” and waves. You must dutifully wave back. When you walk along the street, the kids swarm and follow you, and you have a mass of hands to hold. People wave and smile, give you free stuff (I recently received a large bundle of lemongrass from a lady I passed on the road) and complete strangers invite you to tea, or ask for money. All this, however, is mostly in the villages and more remote areas, as in the cities people see enough muzungus for it to not be special anymore.
WOW. I love Africa. Mom, Dad, I’m not coming home!