Liberation Day, Independence Day — Happy 4th!

This is a festive week in Rwanda. Well, at least it is on the calendar. In the village it just feels … quiet. People don’t tend to do much on holidays here so when they occur it usually just means that the town is very quiet and people get drunk earlier in the day.

I took the opportunity of a day off to go for a long walk with a friend here. We ventured out to an abandoned paper factory on the shores of the lake near me. The lake is surrounded by papyrus swamps so it’s a favorable spot for paper making.

Although very profitable in its heyday, the factory was abandoned during the genocide. People looted whatever they could carry so the roofs and doors and windows are gone but the big steel machines were too heavy to carry so they’re still there. Weeds and trees are slowly takin over the abandoned structures, giving the compound a romantic, ruined look.

We spent a while wandering through all the buildings of the paper factory, taking pictures and admiring the sunset over the lake. After, we headed home. We got home after dark, which I liked. Being out in the nighttime is definitely a novelty for me here so I was glad to have a chaperone to make a nighttime stroll possible.

The next morning I rode a moto past the same papyrus swamps on my way to Kigali to meet up with friends for a 4th of July celebration. We’re spending a couple of days in Kigali, eating out, shopping and enjoying running showers . This afternoon we’re getting dressed up (another novelty here) and heading to the U.S. embassy for their Independence Day party. The party is free for all US citizens and should be full of American food, pasty white, sunscreen covered faces and native-English speakers – aka a good time.

So, that’s the scene for the 4th here in Rwanda. Happy 4th of July to you, too!

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