July 30th marked the first day I visited a country in Africa. That is, Rwanda. Excluding, of course, the layovers I made in Ethiopia and Burundi, which I didn’t get to see much of except the airport. Mukama, staff member from the organization I’m interning with, Conservation Heritage-Turambe, picked me up from the airport. We rode a taxi together from Kigali (the capital) to Musanze.
The road was beautiful, with lush green mountains as far as you could see. People walked along the road, the women often seen carrying baskets on top of their heads (sometimes without even holding it)! Unlike in Indonesia, where the beauty of the land is occasionally tarnished by trash, I found not a speck of trash here. That is thanks to the government’s strict ban on plastic bags and littering. Even the trash can in my guest house right now does not have plastic. I found it a bit gross at first, but realized that as long as you wash it regularly then it is fine.
The most shocking thing to adjust to here was the way that people stare at you and stereotype you as just another tourist. Regarding the staring, I was more used to it than my friends because of my time in China. However, it is interesting how different the situation is for my white friends compared to me. When I am walking by myself, such as what I am doing now since they’ve both left, I am not hassled as much. At the market, the vendors give me cheaper prices in general. Also, I am not bothered as much by men as they were. One of my friends was approached by a man who asked if he could be their helper, then if he could be their boyfriend. Though I had people commenting that I was beautiful and whatever, I don’t think it was to the extent that my friends experienced it.(more…)