Thursday, March 19, 2009

tea fjords

image courtesy of farm2's flickr photo stream

10 hours on a bus from Kampala to Kigali, passing through the increasingly rugged terrain that separates the two cities. Oh, Rwanda. I've wanted to travel to Rwanda for the past couple of years, adding it to my itinerary several times, only to inevitably cross it off as the packed weeks fly by. That crazy bus ride always seemed a bit much.

This time I actually made the trip, getting to the Jaguar Bus station a few minutes before the on-time departure. I managed to eat an entire box of NICE coconut biscuits before making it to the border. I listened to music, but rarely nodded off, looking out the window facing east, across matooke plantations covered in red dust.

The border crossing was uncomplicated - there is no visa fee to enter Rwanda if you are American. As I grabbed a bottle of water and a hard-boiled egg from a vendor and re-lugged my pack back onto the bus, the engine rumbled to a start and we were once again on our way.

Just minutes into the ride, Rwanda's landscape became dramatically different. The road hugged the snaking base of the hills, flanked on the east by little bunches of eucalyptus and tea stretching across valley floors to the opposite terraced hillsides. It was a cloudy day, with mist and woodsmoke collecting in pockets; the deep green of tea leaves criss-crossed by footpaths. Up ahead the curves of the hills recede and you see more tea, lapping at the base of the hills, sometimes washing up onto their slopes before the elevation steepens and the terracing starts. I imagined the tea as water, doing a lazy, shimmering, and winding dance between the hills and the road.

I put down my book, turned off my iPod, and spent the next few hours peering through raindrops at the scenery. So, you could say I'm grateful for that ridiculously long bus ride, and surprised by the sheer beauty of Rwanda.

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