Days 7 & 8, Weekend Trip

This weekend, I spent doing stuff in Parc National Des Volcans. Terrace fields on a crater lake in RwandaThe 90km trip took about two and a half hours.  (I should add that a good part of that driving was on mountain roads and half the time I felt lik e our driver was pulling insane stunts.)  We drove through the mountains, passing a lot of terraced fields.  Even rural areas arefull of people and at least half of them are walking along the road. Or riding a bike.  Or, in a few cases, taking the bus.  Hopefully everyone doesn’t try to buy a car.  The smoke from burning fires is already bad enough — adding a lot more automobile exhast would only make it that much worse. The road we used was a narrow strip of pavement from Kigali to the mountains for people who want to see the gorillas as well as commercial trucking.  Most roads that diverged from ours quickly turned into dirt.  People filled every village we passed through. Every other woman that we passed had a child strapped to her back. The country is set to double its population by 2020.  It doesn’t seem like that is a hard target to reach. After eating a buffet at the resort (which seems populated, at the moment, by a large group of touring families from France), a local dance troupe came in do a traditional Rwandan dance.  It was great fun when I turned the camera on the drummer and watch her face light up with 10,000 watts of smile.  All of them exuded energy and joy. After that, we hopped back in our mini-bus to take a ride to volcanic crater lakes.  After a frightening ride up the side of the mountain, sometimes chased by children who ran beside the car on the dropoff, we arrived at the summit and began to take in the view. Kids scrambling up the mountainThe twin lakes are beautiful.  But we didn’t remain alone for long. Children in a village at the edge of the lake spotted us (“Muzengu! White Man!”)  and rushed the peak we were on.  They surrounded us and asked for our email addresses.  Talk about surreal!  Two of the boys gave us yahoo.fr adresses and spoke a passable English. We’ll see if I get an email reply. We trundled back to the lodge and tucked in for an early departure the next day.  I fell asleep around 9:00pm and, then woke up again around 2:30AM. It has been a while since I had a chance to see the night sky free of light pollution, so I got dressed and went outside.  I didn’t recognise any of the sky.  I’m no astronomer, but I can pick out a couple of constellations.  There were even some bright clusters that I know I would have recognized had I seen them before. A bright moon ruined some of the fun.  But waking up and listening to the stillness was awesome.  Something to do again.  I went back to bed till 6AM. In the morning, we were off at 6:30.  We met up with our guide to the golden monkeys and a few minutes later we were driving off the pavement and then walking through people’s fields and villages to get to the bamboo forest where they lived.  (We had an armed escort — the park is on the border of Rwanda.) A Golden MonkeyWe spent an hour amongst the monkeys as the ran around us.  For the most part, they seemed oblivious to us.  They didn’s sit still for us to photograph them, but they didn’t run away.  It is their mating season, so they were chasing each other around quite a bit. (Evidently this particular species of Golden Monkey only exists around those volcanos and they are an endangered species.) After a muddy hike back, I collapsed in my hotel room.  I can hardy wait to go back, but, for now, I’ll read a book. (dcm has an update with pics, too)

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