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On the Road
Saturday, 09 February 2013 Written by Bojana Mutnović

On the RoadI arrived in Kivumu on Thursday night. I had always dreamed about coming to Africa. However, at the same time it seemed a bit scary to me, and also somewhat unreal. But as my first day in this foreign land dawned, I awakened to beautiful sounds in the distance... A choir was rehearsing for its Sunday performance, accompanied by the strange rhythm of African drums. At that moment I realized I was really here... I was really in Africa! It was no longer far, unreal, or scary. It was simply beautiful and magical.

The last several days of my stay in Kivumu have been marked with plenty of impressions - above all the hospitality of my hosts, who made me feel at home from the very beginning. Then, again, the richness of nature that surrounds us here is so welcoming - green everywhere you look, silence and peace, far from city noise, pollution and rush. And I had my first visit to the school where I was greeted with so many smiles, as well as by some bewildered stares. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the delicious food prepared by the cook at the friary, with every meal being given much time and attention.

I’ve also been visiting neighbouring towns - first Gitarama, and then Kigali. However, I wasn’t so much impressed by the towns themselves, as by the scenes which opened up while traveling on the road to reach them. Most of all, I was surprised by the multitude of people walking, right next to the road that the cars literally fly by on, not always keeping to their proper lanes. Without good reflexes and constant overtaking we would never have reached our destination.

When I arrived, on the road from the airport, the first thing I noticed were soldiers with big guns - who, by their very presence, are preserving the ‘respect of the law’… Even I wasn’t indifferent... Now I’m more used to it because I see them often. And on the road to Gitarama, we once passed two boys holding hands. At first it was funny for me to see this, but then fra Ivica explained that here it is a sign of great friendship. And on the road to the national park I saw the most beautiful sunrise in my life: shades of red and orange were conquering the sky as the sunlight was breaking into a new day.

Wherever we drive, I notice mothers, who, in a way still unknown to me, tie their babies on their backs - some of them, at the same time, carrying huge, wide baskets full of fruits and vegetables on their heads. In fact, they carry everything on their heads – including big sacks and jerry cans... And I see little children playing with bottles, tires and sticks right next to the road. They make toys out of everything. A child’s imagination has no limits… I see boys and girls working in the fields, while others go to school dressed in uniforms; I see men transporting things on bikes far wider and longer than the bikes themselves, and prisoners in orange suits being taken somewhere in groups. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the wonderful landscape... wherever you look, you are surrounded by the natural beauty and signs of eternal spring.

Working hard, resting, playing or just hanging out – it all takes place on the roadsides of this country as the images of real life in rural Rwanda unfold before me. I haven’t taken any photos of these sights that I have seen as I travel by car, but the pictures will remain etched in my mind, and I will cherish them forever as memories of my first trip to Africa.

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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