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...