I arrived in Rwanda on February 25th, 2010 after two days in transport, exhausted but excited and curious to see my new homeland. Here are my first impressions:
-The rain: We arrived in the evening and it was already dark outside by the time we collected our bags and made our way out of the airport. My first sense in Rwanda was touch; the feeling of raindrops on my skin and dripping down my face. Rwanda has two wet seasons and two dry seasons; a long rain are from mid-March to mid-May, followed by a long dry from mid-May to September, a short rain from October to mid-December, and a short dry from mid-December to mid-March. We arrived at the start of the heavy wet season. From the airport, we made our way on buses to a small hostel in Kigali where we would spend the next few nights. After a long, much-needed shower, I crawled into bed. The rain pounding on the roof, coupled with the lack of sleep I had experienced in the two previous days, cradled me into a deep slumber. I awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, the start of a new day in Rwanda.
-The greenery: Kigali is the capitol of Rwanda, but unlike the capitols of other developing countries, Kigali is pleasantly dispersed over rolling green hills. Big, open spaces of green tropical paradise are interspersed among the city’s buildings. Trees and flowers line the streets. The greenery of Kigali is the first thing I notice about the city. Furthermore, looking out over the hills and into the distance, one sees sweeping rain forests that cover the land as far as the eye can see. Rwanda is a tribute to nature’s beauty, its greenery it’s dominating force.
-The people: Welcoming people. Beautiful people. Happy people. What better type of people is there? Everywhere one looks in the city, one sees interactions between smiling, laughing individuals. At this point, my own interaction with the people of Rwanda is limited and my impression due primarily to observation, but already I can tell that I will fall in love with the people here. I am excited to break the divide between us and immerse myself completely in the mentality of the people. A smile in this country will go a long way. My first day in Rwanda, I walk around with a giant grin on my face, being greeted and greeting the people I pass on the street.
It has been 24 hours since I arrived here and I already love it. It still feels a bit unreal to look at my location on a map and think about what is going on at home and what I was doing even a week ago. Rwanda feels comfortable, and soon enough, it will feel more like home, and my previous lifestyle will be the foreign one.