Here then, is where I find myself. Perched on top of a Rwandan hill, looking down at valleys of tea plantations and across them to the oldest forest on our continent. My soul feels alive and—more importantly at this moment—completely free.
If the first phase of Africa’s Call was the joy of getting fully prepared and the thrill of finally setting off… If that first episode was where I experienced solitude, thoroughly, company, joyfully, and tried to let go of control by not planning (which ended up being faux not-planning)… And where, despite that, Want-tos became Should-haves that turned into Oh-wells because there was just too much to do and see and explore… If that was the necessary passage of entry… Then this, here, is the juicy middle-sandwich part of the experience where those things have all fallen away. And I get so sit with my head in the clouds and my feet heading absolutely nowhere in particular.
A week ago, after getting back into my dusty hiking boots after two weeks of manicured feet on luxurious foreign shores, I thought that that detour was a poorly judged exit from my trip—distraction, destruction?—that made for a friction-frought re-entry and required an otherwise unnecessary exercise in forced focus to get back into my Camel Mild Man mindset. The reticence to climb all the way up and into my trusty Cruiser (it is a very high step), was a real as my chest heaves when I crossed the humid tarmac into the arrivals terminal in Kigali, Rwanda. A sadness that I “had to” carry on with this adventure.
But nothing is without its purpose nor happens if it shouldn’t. And my wave-skipping and soul-hugging time in Croatia (and the gay-skipping and boy-hugging time in Paris before that), has become the perfect section break for my mentality to cross from one track to the next.
The Universe, God, Source, did for me what my brain couldn’t; showed me my progress and gave me a Before/After point in time to stake my ruminations around.
Here then, is where I find myself: Yesterdays chimp trekking happened three days after it was initially supposed to (but it happened, gloriously); today’s laziness is just what it is (indulgent and wonderfully okay); and tomorrow and the entire week after that are so unplanned that you could tell me Cairo was a perfectly suitable next stop and I’d nod and say “Oh yeah?”.
I’m not sure what switch, exactly, went off (or on). Nor am I compelled to make a thesis of finding out. I know that, at first, I bristled at all of the rules and strict enforcement in Rwanda and as a result, saw Rwandans as inflexible, dispassionate, unfeeling people. But then, somewhere into the journey that wound around hills and onto volcano rims, through valleys and forests, alongside lakes and plantations and people getting on with the job of living, I let go of those resentments. I fell in love with this country and saw her people for who they are: self-sufficient, prosperous—in attitude if not always in cash—and getting on with the responsibility of ensuring their collective success. (They are also very busy securing that fortune from two volatile, corrupt, visionless neighbours: Burundi and the DRC.)
I find it impossible to describe the beauty here; natural magnificence that drops my jaw at every bend in the new, smooth-tar road that takes me deeper into the trance. Also, an even more profound, less tangible beauty that shows what we Africans are truly capable of when the rule of law is respected, leaders are focused and courageous, and citizens shed their Tutsi and Hutu shackles to say “We are all Rwandans.” (As an entire class did, shortly after the genocide, when asked to point out their Tutsi classmates to rabid Hutu murderers whose sharp machetes had just broken into their school and whose brainwashed minds still held onto the mission of ethnic cleansing.)
Here then, is where I find myself. In my own state of resolution within a country that has found her resolve. At peace, at ease and slowly walking towards myself in a newfound freedom. That doesn’t mean I am fully resolved. Solved. Complete. Cured. Episodes of agita and restlessness still visit my cockpit. Impatience still pops her pimpled pip into my window to whisper words like “Quicker,” and “More.” On many mornings, earlier than I need to, I still stretch an unwoken arm across the floor of my tent and switch on whatever device is nearest. Still addicted to news, media, communication, connection. Still needy and needing in a way that I’d candidly prefer not to be. But that is what it is for now.
Besides, I don’t want to claim to have reached the Nirvana I’m aspiring to. Or actually reach it. That would mean that my life’s journey is done. And terminal. Nor do I want the primary purpose of this trip to be “healing” a-la Eat-Pray-Love.
But it inevitably has become an experience of letting go; an ever-improving practice of pushing against the “shoulds”; and a deeper introduction to who I am (as opposed to aiming for who I think I want to be). Mostly, I think, it is a real-time demonstration to me, of the amazing things that I, and everything and everyone around me, are capable of.
Lots of love from Rwanda. And infinite gratitude for the privilege of having her and all of everything, with me on this part of the journey.
Share This Article
Share This Article On