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My Trip to Rwanda (Part 8)
Sunday, 17 October 2010 Written by Antonela Perić

Uncle has decided to destroy us with the fearsome pace he imposed on us. The moment we get used to working - sorting the library books and equipment from the “Tin Man”, my uncle comes and says: “We’re going to Uganda!” After we come back, we start to repair the friary roofs – I hardly hammered three nails – Uncle comes and says: “We’re going to the Akagera National Park!” A few days ago I was in the middle of doing something, when he approached me and opened his mouth to tell me something. I intercepted him saying: “What now, Uncle? Where are we going this time?” He grinned, his moustached mouth widening, and probably thought about what a wise head I was, and said to me: “We’re going to Burundi!”

Burundian DrummersBurundian Drummers

I don’t even need to tell you how excited I was. I had just learned to pronounce the name of Rwanda, and I have to go to a country with a similar name. Uncle says that Burundi is also mountainous, like Rwanda, but with “much steeper hills.” And that the population makeup of Burundi is similar to that one in Rwanda. OK, I’m not really interested in that, and I wouldn’t be able to tell apart people by nationality anyway.

Traveling to Burundi, which is more than two hours away, we got hungry by the time we reached the town of Butare. My uncle tells me that Butare was once the capital and that it is the university center of Rwanda. Anyhow, we had to fill our empty bellies. After we finished our frog legs and snails, which I had eaten for the first time in my life, I can tell you that for me, Butare is the gastronomic center of the world! I told my uncle that we must think about empty bellies on our way back from Burundi too. He ate the steak tartar which looked to be raw to me. Really, there was blood dropping from the meat!!! Then my uncle told how in Africa, since his arrival in the mission, he never had a fridge in the houses he lived in. For him, the best food he ate was the one he had eaten almost raw. And he never longed for something chilled or frozen. He got food poisoning only once in Africa – and that was when he ate meat in a luxurious restaurant that was previously frozen in a fridge!

Antonela and KavedžijaPython

Butare is about 20 minutes away from the border crossing. When we entered Burundi, everything my uncle previously told me proved to be correct. One hill next to the other, and even these hills are too steep. I remarked aloud that “cows must be grazing with their hand-brakes pulled there”!

Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, seemed to be totally different from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. For a start, Bujumbura lies completely on a plain, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Flowers are to be seen everywhere. Lake Tanganyika is the longest and deepest lake in Africa. Ant it has the most beautiful beach - Saga! There, in a restaurant where there is a cage with a gigantic snake and monkeys, we met Kava. That’s how my uncle calls his friend Vjenceslav Kavedžija, the coach of both male and female basketball teams of Rwanda. Kava was in Bujumbura accompanying his teams for some kind of a tournament. Uncle told me how in 1984 Kava was the national coach of Yugoslavia and that he was won the European Championship with women basketball players. Later he worked everywhere, in Switzerland, Tunisia, Ivory Coast...

lake TanganyikaPyramid at the source of the Nile

On Saga Beach I went totally crazy when I spotted the “sea.” I took my shoes off and got on everyone’s nerves by throwing sand at them. There was a mountain of sand around our dinner table which I had to clean ALONE as punishment! Only after I have finished the cleaning did my uncle allow me to enjoy listening to the Burundi drummers. They were a huge attraction and official drummers of the football World Cup in South Africa.

From Bujumbura we left for Gitega, which is said to lie literally in the center of Burundi. We made a little detour to visit the “officially” most distant source of the Nile, discovered in 1938. However, it was a great disappointment for me, because smart guys decided to put the source in concrete and present it like water coming from a tap. Like we’re idiots to believe that the world’s longest river is coming from that tap!? I climbed the appropriate pyramid, which is supposed to symbolize the source of the river which will empty into the ocean after crossing the distance of a little bit less than 7,000 kilometers, not far away from the real Egyptian pyramids.

tree in Gitega - centar of Burundisource of the Nile

I wanted to buy a flag of the country of Burundi. Our hosts, friars from the Gitega friary, told me that it was impossible because local politicians claimed the flag was a symbol that was not for sale and cannot be taken out of the country. I don’t know how he did it, but that “thief” of my uncle managed to get me the flag! He only didn’t allow us to take pictures of him with or without the flag. I don’t know why, but I’m not sure if I managed to take even one picture of him during my stay in Africa!

To be continued…

Yours truly, Antonela
Translated by: fra Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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