I feel We Won the Lottery that Day

Trip Start Jul 17, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Friday, August 3, 2007

Before we went to the gorillas we attended the wedding of Chantal, Leonard's ( who we stayed with the week before) daughter. Almost two weeks into our trip we didn't really have any clothing we felt would be appropriate to wear to a wedding. So when in Rome... We had traditional Rwandan dresses made for the occasion! Sam took us to the fabric shops where we first picked out a pattern. Then we found a seamstress to make them for us. The entire process was really fun. The dresses are in three pieces. A long skirt underneath so that you can't see through the fabric. Then a layer that goes over that. It is supposed to be flat in the front and back and gathered at the sided (which makes your hips look double the size). Then there is a sash that goes over one arm which ties on top of the soulder. It is kind of like a fancy toga. After we had the dresses we were a little self-conscious about wearing them to the wedding. We were wondering if everyone would be thinking us to be crazy muzungues. But Sam kept assuring us that people would like it and take our efforts as a compliment. So off we went, two very white Rwandans.

The wedding was amazing, very elaborate. It was the traditional ceremony that we attended (they will have a church ceremony in another week-that is when they will be officially married). The ceremony we attended was a very scripted and well organized event. Much of it is bartering back and forth between the two families about the bride. This went back and forth for almost 2 hours before we even saw the bride and bridesmaids. Presents were given by the groom's family, traditional dancing took place, and lots of bartering (partly over how many hows would be given by the goom's family) which was very playful and funny. After everything was settled and the bride and groom were seated together (in what was almost like a throne), we ate. There was a feast! Beef, chicken, fish, and spitfire roasted goat! We had to leave after dinner for the drive up to Ruhengeri (for the gorillas) so before we left we were (quite unexpectadly) announced in front of everyone that we wanted to present Chantal with a gift. There is a part in the ceremony where everyone presents the bride with a gift but we were going to miss it so they had us do it by ourselves, with everyone (about 300 people) watching. And as if that wasn't terrifying enough, they thrust the microphone in front of Adrianne and she gave an inpromtu speech! (I have video footage of this too thanks to Sam).

After the gorillas we went to Kibuye which is located on beautiful Lake Kivu. It was pretty hazy when we were there but the views were still pretty amazing. The lake is enormous and spans most of Rwanda's western border. On the Eastern side of the lake is The Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the lake is so big you can't see it. Our room was right on the lake. We relaxed here and enjoyed the scenery.

We also got a lesson on how to wear our Kongas. Kongas are beautiful, simple cloth skirts that many of the women in Rwanda wear. They sell them in Rwanda but many of them are made in Tanzania. In addition to the birghtly colored patterns, each Konga has a swahili proverb on it. Sam, who is also fluent in Swahili (he is fluent in 6 languages total) translated the Kongas as we were shopping. The one we are wearing in these pictures says "It's worth thanking God".

We drove around the lake a little bit and visited a church with a memorial in front. This church (unlike many others we visited that were turned into memorials after the genocide) iis still an active church. During the genocide, many people fled to the churches hoping to find protection inside them. Instead, many were slaughtered inside the churches. These were mass killings. We visited several of these churches (most now memorials) throughout our trip and it was very difficult. In this particular church, 4000 people were killed. Kibuye was the area hardest hit by the genocide, 60,000 were killed in this town.

Afterwards we drove thorugh the countryside one last time back to Kigali.
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