easter at lake kivu & genocide memorial week

Sometimes watching four episodes of The West Wing (tea cup in hand) is what it takes to free the mind and want to communicate with the world. This is just one of the many indicators that I am indeed an introvert. The much more fun thing is why an afternoon like that was needed – all the time spent with family and friends (whom I really love) in the past weeks at absolutely beautiful locations. And since Easter was just last week, I want to tell you about the Easter travels to Lake Kivu.

I have often said that nothing is simple in Africa, and this past week is a reminder of how true a statement that is. At last minute my parents ended up in Rwanda for Easter (just another story for my crazy family). This means that they were also here for Genocide Memorial Week. Part of their time was spent in Gisenyi, a town on Lake Kivu next to the DRC border. Here are some tidbits of what we did and what we learned.

Gisenyi, Lake Kivu & Paradis Malahide

I remember reading about Lake Kivu in some of my Environmental text books because it has methane and carbon dioxide gas at its bottom. It is a mountain lake that sits at around 4,800 feet and is 1,500 feet deep in parts and, in theory, could flip and kill those around the lake. There are only two other lakes with gases trapped at depth – both in Cameroon. Maybe this makes you bored or scared – it made me smile.

For my first trip to Lake Kivu, I went to Gisenyi. Really, I went to a hotel just outside of Gisenyi called Paradis Malahide because our little group never found a reason to leave the hotel. Paradis Malahide seems like it is plopped in amongst a wandering village, with a bit of beach and hillside carved out just for guests. It was a perfect escape – for us, an Easter escape. If you go, bring a swim suit, books, games, an appetite for some yummy fish in the evenings, and be prepared to enjoy the bonfire each evening at the restaurant. What I learned: Paradis Malahide is a perfect place for a quiet weekend, a place to be rejuvenated with relaxation. But, if you want to be active, probably not perfect. I shall definitely be back in the months to come!


The beach at Paradis Malahide, our rooms in the back.

Carcassonne, a favorite board game.

Bonfire fun – don’t forget to import your marshmellows.

Genocide Memorial Week

Each year Rwanda takes a week to remember the genocide of 1994. The government chooses a theme for the week, everything shuts down the first and last day of the week, and most afternoons as well. To some degree, this continues for 100 days – the length of the genocide. This is my second time to be here for this week, and the country takes on a somber, even depressed, mood. As an outsider, there is little to do but respect that which is everywhere you turn and pray that those mourning would find comfort and healing. If you visit during this time (or any other time) this what I have learned: If you want to know stories, read books because retelling is reliving, and who are we to ask such a thing? If you have advive for someone who lived through the genocide or has family here, keep it to yourself – this place and history is more complex and greater than we can understand. If you want to learn – listen, observe, and respect. Like all rules, sometimes these should be broken. But, they are a good starting point.

And now it is time for this introvert to turn from The West Wing to the book that is filling spare moments with smiles: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


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