Climbing Mount Karisimbi

CLIMBING MOUNT KARISIMBI , a snow-capped volcano between Rwanda and the DR Congo, the tallest peak in the Virungas, was an arduous and fascinating experience. Many mountains, no matter how high, give you ice-field after ice field, lenghthy scrambles over loose scree and unending deja vu of switch-backs. But Mount Karisimbi is a consummate entertainer, performing…

Travels with Dr Muss – Healing the Memories

I started ‘Letters from the Heart of Africa’ over 15 months ago and now, 34 posts and 50,000 words later I’m finally nearing the home straight. Thanks so much for following this series so far, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it and going through my journal which had lay untouched for 10 years before I starting blogging….

When Memories Come Calling

Memories are like kites dancing on warm zephyrs on high – with just a tug, and if our strings of remembrance are strong enough, we can bring them down from the ether, in to our grasps. Often, just tiny reminders can trigger them off; that perfume scent to recall an old flame; the smell of…

A Weekend Break in the Northern Hemisphere #2: Kampala and Lake Victoria

Crossing the border from Rwanda to Uganda, a traverse from Francophone to Anglophone Africa, offered subtle changes from the bus window for those who cared to notice them – suddenly billboards were written in English; driving on the right became wrong; there were cricket pitches. Uganda, proud African nation through and through, still had hints…

A hike up Mount Bisoke and a lesson in understanding gorilla sounds

One Friday afternoon, with Freddy’s permission, I snuck out from work early – we had decided to climb the perfectly conical volcano, the 3,700 metre high Mount Bisoke, and Mike and I were soon on the road in a pick-up driving to a town in north-west Rwanda called Ruhengeri (today called Musanze); we passed terraced…

Sometimes on Tuesdays, always with tea (Part Two)

(To read part one of this post please click here) On one of our regular meet-ups Vincent* told me how he was rescued as a 13 year old orphan at the end of the Rwandan genocide by a platoon of soldiers. They took him, his younger sister, niece and brother to a UNICEF camp for…

Sometimes on Tuesdays, always with tea

Sometimes you can’t see how incredible a person is when you first meet them. Still waters run deep, people are like rivers whose long courses from distant springs are uncertain, or like books, whose covers give mere hints to what is inside. It takes time to get to know them, or perhaps it takes some…

Faith, devotion and complicity

I enjoyed lazy starts to the day on the veranda, shooting the breeze with Peter the security guard. We’d breakfast on toast and tea, staring at the banana plants and far-off hills that cupped Kigali, waking up with the sun to the background of a crackling radio. This post continues the blog series Letters from…

Where you never walk alone

In contrast to my daily commute in London, my walk home in Kigali was rarely dull, no two journeys were ever the same. Sometimes I encountered friendly faces and random, curious hellos. At times it felt welcoming and for anyone who’s ever consistently made an urban commute, in the hushed solemnity of an underground of…