Today, my friends, was indeed the most glorious day of my entire life thus far. Â Did I win a new car? Nope! Â Did I achieve a world-record high jump? Â Please. Â Did I finally accomplish the one and only abiding dream Iâ€™ve ever had? You betcha! Â At approximately 12:10 pm local time, I crossed the Ugandan border into Rwanda. Â It was quite the process, passport stampings and whatnot, but the feeling of passing into this misty nation was worth any kind of language barrier-ridden international relations I could imagine.
I cannot even hope to adequately describe to you the immense beauty of this place. Â These hills are unlike anything Iâ€™ve ever seen before, and I canâ€™t wait to get some pics up here so you can see them as well (just until you fly here yourself, naturally). Â They terrace the hills and grow mostly tea from what Iâ€™ve seen so far, but there is a definite culture of coffee exportation. Â Rwanda is the most densely-populated country in Sub-Saharan Africa, so they need to terrace the hills so they can maximize the farming potential of every inch of space that they can. Â Youâ€™d think that so many fields would make things feel a little less like â€œAfricaâ€ and a little more like Minnesota, but youâ€™d be delighted to find that the mist covers the banana trees in real life just the same as it does in your mind. Â The lush green hills are dotted with the dark forms of women bending to tend their crops, and it is stunningly quiet. Â In contrast to the constant hustle and background chatter of Uganda, you can almost hear the worms in the dirt in Rwanda. Â The hills hang steep and rippling, curtains which shroud memories of the beauties and terrors that they have seen. Â It is astounding to imagine that such a horribly tragic event could happen in such a breathtaking place. Â It is incredibly difficult to picture these roads lined with bodies, the rivers flowing with evidence of genocide. Â Eight hundred thousand people, maybe a million died in these hills. Â How do we overcome this as outsiders, Westerners, fellow human beings? Â Rwanda is striving to become well-known for coffee exportation and not its follies, but it is a formidable task. Â Just as nearly everything of note in Northern Uganda will facilitate a conversation about the LRA war, the genocide here is just plain relevant. Â I hope that in my time here Iâ€™ll be able to really see a new Rwanda; Â one where not only 800,000 people were killed, but where thousands more are born; where love is borne from the ashes of tragedy, and where humanity grows stronger together with every effort it makes toward real and lasting peace.