Lucia has something to say

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I am grateful to have arrived home between snowstorms. There is endless shoveling. And the totaled car is still at the body shop where it has been since I left. And I have heaps of things to do before leaving for Guatemala in a few days. Apologies for not reading your blogs lately. In about 10 days, I’ll be back again and things should be settled down.

I have wisps of thoughts from Rwanda floating in my head which I have gathered and compacted below...

Coffee Washing Stations: I visited half a dozen very expensive coffee washing stations (averaging $60,000-80,000 each) which have been built in the last 3 years. When the harvest starts in March, farmers will bring red coffee cherries to the station within 6 hours of being picked. Meeting with farmers from coffee cooperatives, their main question is how to get a better price for their coffee. I don’t know, but I am with experts - a buyer and a roaster. Fair trade coffee brings a better price to the farmer, but the price is also dependent on quality. A slight difference in quality will impact the price. It’s a vulnerable position for a farmer with the risks of the weather, the processing, and the ever-changing coffee market price. And their family’s food, health care, and school fees depend on it.

Sparkling Soil: In the western part of the country, there is rich volcanic soil that sparkles and looks as if truckloads of glitter have been mixed in. A beautiful and amazing sight.

Plastic Shopping Bags: There are no plastic shopping bags in Rwanda. They are not legal. At the airport, bags are confiscated, and arrivees go through immigration holding cans of dry milk, gifts, and whatever else they carried onto the plane in plastic bags. Purchases go into paper bags and things are carried in traditional baskets. In this country, there isn’t the roadside trash of yellow and blue plastic as there is in so many countries.

Lake Kivu: Riding in the back of a boat on Lake Kivu, with the spray washing over my feet and migrating between my toes, I thought that life surely could not be any better.

Genocide Memorial:
Along the road, there are graves. At the genocide memorial in Kigali, 250,000 are buried in mass graves. Their photos are from happy times. They are dancing, getting married, standing together with family or friends. There are photos of children–babies, primary school students, teenagers. And there are survivors. I visited a project called Speak, I’m Listening. It’s a drop-in center, for women who need a listening ear to move through their pain.

And with this, I leave Rwanda for now...


Blogger Girlplustwo said...

i love how you bring the pieces home into something that we can picture. especially from a place so incomprehensible to.

i love it that we've titled our posts the same today. and i love that you are going to guatemala.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Gordo said...

Simply amazing, Lucia. Thank you for bringing us along.

11:02 AM  
Blogger r said...

How many times can I say "wow" before it doesn't mean anything?

What an experience. And your way of writing about the little and the big details is perfect.

No plastic bags is a great idea. None at all. I have a huge bag of them right now in my car; I'm on a quest to leave them somewhere they can actually recycle them (our roadside recycle doesn't take them).

Sharing your experiences with us makes all of us think.

12:02 PM  
Blogger karmic said...

It's amazing how well you encapsulate the essence of your trip. It lets us poor folks who don't go, get several good snapshots.
So sorry about your totaled car, glad you are ok though.
Take care.

12:28 PM  
Blogger gary rith said...

Remarkable how many postivie things you say about a tough and impoverished situation. Fair trade coffee is the way to go, for sure.

12:30 PM  
Blogger gary rith said...


12:30 PM  
Blogger meno said...

The juxtaposition of the picture and your first sentence made me smile.

It amazes me what a HUGE business coffee is, especially as i don't drink it.

I wish i could see the sparkling soil.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Lynnea said...

I thought of my black lava salt when you described the sparkling lava - what an image.

Hey, I have a little something interesting I'd like to pass on to you if you would email me...

4:16 PM  
Blogger QT said...

Nicely written, Lucia. Welcome home - hope you are loving the snow.

6:10 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

What interesting tidbits you always bring back. No plastic bags. I like that. (Calling Thai Embassy... :)



12:05 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Welcome home Lucia!

Great posts! As another commenter really does make one think.

We believe strongly in always buying fare trade first...but you make me question what else we can do...thanks for that.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

I like the idea of outlawing plastic bags. In Kenya it made me so sad to see the amount of plastic bags there were littering the landscape in some places.

Rebekah - if you're looking for a place to leave plastic bags, our local food back takes all of ours. You may want to try that. (I don't usually comment to another commenter, but I couldn't resist.)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Snooze said...

What a beautiful account of your travels. I heard activist Christine D'Adesky speaking this summer about Rwanda, and it's great to read of all the work that is going into trying to help that country heal.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog- you've seen a lot of interesting sights! I most enjoy reading the little things that most sites don't mention, like the ban on plastic bags.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

Beautiful images. Sounds like an amazing place.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Bobealia... said...

You just enabled me to imagine things I could not have pictured in my head before. That sounds redundant, but words don't always bring images to things we had not known before, but your words do. I'm trying to say thank you for your words. Thank you!

8:48 PM  

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