After a few days of staff meetings, signing billions of documents and house hunting, I escaped for a couple of days to travel to the northern part of the country where we have a field site and loads of interesting activities. The reasons for the trip were to attend some meetings, visit a refugee camp where we will begin working soon and also visit some of the projects that we are working on in the region.
|the hills of Burundi|
So Monday morning we headed out with six people crammed into a Toyota Prado. The late dry season haze blurred the hills that border Bujumbura to the west. Our route would take us up through this rugged terrain which remained hilly all the way to our destination. In fact, Burundi is entirely made up of hills and one of the most beautiful places in Africa – at least from what I've seen. I say this having been told by my Burundian colleagues that I haven't even seen it at its best which is supposedly a clear day during the rainy season. Well, I'm looking forward to it and I'll have my camera ready.
|having a look at a new bridge|
|life in the camp|
|listening to speeches|
That evening we had a drink at a local watering hole and then dinner at our guesthouse. The house is an architectural nightmare that adds insult to injury in the form of pink tiles, pink and orange curtains and topped off by my favorite pasty white fluorescent lighting. Having said that, the essentials were there. I had a hot shower (shared with a number of creepy, crawly things) and a comfortable bed (hopefully not shared with the creepy, crawly things).
|visiting a new school|
With the exception of some small meetings and some email time, that was how I spent the rest of the day. The following day consisted of more project visits until mid-morning and then the half-day drive back to Bujumbura. The return, though I was a bit dirty and weary, was nothing like the arduous treks back and forth from Dar to the refugee camps in Tanzania. Not only does the latter take additional time and modes of transportation, you and your belongings are covered with red dust that seems to find its way into every nook and cranny including ears, pockets, keyboards, nostrils, etc.
|roadside kiln for making bricks|
And the house hunt continues. I'm told it's normal for it to take some time to find the right house. Given that realization and the fact that the agreement ended on our tiny guesthouse, we just moved into a new temporary house until we find a place of our own. We were able to get a cool place near the lake that would be too small to live in for longer term but at least now have a bit more space and it no longer feels like we're living in a hallway closet.
|hitching a ride|
|another way of hitching a ride|