We’re almost finished with our trip! We depart tomorrow. There was was still one final thing to do - our last activity before departure was a safari. This had been deliberately saved for the last day of our trip, as a sort of farewell activity. I was very excited to get started!!
Our group split into two and embarked on a six hour safari tour in the northern jungles of Rwanda. We drove in some VERY sophisticated safari jeeps, which offered lots of passenger comforts for the six hour journey. They contained functioning power outlets next to every seat, a raised roof, lots of space for our stuff, enormous windows, and impressively, a working refrigerator in the back!
We saw a surprisingly large amount of animals, giraffes, hippos, elephants, and zebras. They all seemed indifferent to the safari vehicles, often standing directly on the main roadway. The zebras, in particular, seemed reluctant to move from their groups on the side of the road. We observed a rather unique habit among the zebras - they liked to rest their heads on each other’s backs. My vehicle joked that they really “had each other’s backs". It was remarkable how wide open the park was. After driving for a mere ten minutes, you could stand up, look outside the safari vehicle, and imagine that the landscape went on for thousands of miles, uninterrupted. It wasn’t nearly as quiet out here as it was on the chimpanzee trek, but it was satisfyingly peaceful.
Perhaps it was fitting that on our last full day in Rwanda, we did a lot of talking. Between animal sightings (which could sometimes be a significant length of time), our group chatted. We talked about our childhoods (and argued WAY too much over what the Victorious TV theme sounded like). We reflected on the trip, and how much we’d all grown. We discussed life. It was rather sobering to realize that some of us would have to go back to our regular lives in a few days, on opposite ends of the continent. Some of us wouldn’t see each other for a VERY long time, maybe ever. No one outright mentioned this, but it seemed like it weighted heavily on our minds as we chatted.
Upon our return, I was completely coated in dust (which I kind of deserved, I’d been standing, with the dust blowing in my face for the majority of the ride). I looked like Pigpen from Peanuts. One of my strongest memories from today is everyone laughing and the smiles on everyone’s faces from my unkempt appearance. It’s a good memory that I’ll cherish for a while (and not just from the ridiculous photograph of me).
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I am traveling to Rwanda with the intent of a sponge - I want to absorb as many unique experiences as I possibly can, and bring them back to share with my culture. I am a multifaceted artist, and Rwanda is a treasure trove of valuable experiences to draw inspiration from. As a visual artist, I look forward to seeing unique handmade art, and letting it inspire an artistic vision. As a musician, I look forward to hearing vastly different than what I’m used to, and letting that inspire music from my soul. And as a teacher, I’m looking to see teaching methods different than what I have known. I want to bring these gifts back and share them with my culture.