We leave in an hour for the airport. Sue is reading in the lobby, Ben on the lawn. Bonnie is journaling. I have finally posted my blogs from the past days. And this, my last installment, I am writing by hand.
We spend the morning back at the market buying last-minute gifts. Baskets. Bracelets. I spy a set of ankle bells like the ones the dancers wore at the traditional Africa village. Mark, our driver, negotiates the price of 5,000 Rwandan francs and I buy them.
The vendor pulls out a headdress and I shake my head no. I look for photographs of me on my phone, dressed in this traditional garb but I can’t find any. They are all on Rich’s camera and he is not here. Rabbi Brant pulls out his IPhone and plays the video he shot of me dancing. The vendors gather round and give me the thumbs up.
Sue and I wander back into the food section, seeking out what we were told was curry but is really a type of salt – most commonly used for cooking beans, to season and to decrease cooking time. The market is ripe with new smells I cannot place. Perhaps it is hotter today and the smells are more pungent. There are few muzungos here and we draw a few stares.
We eat Chinese food for lunch and it is surprisingly great. A nice change from the potatoes, beans and rice we have eaten at most meals. And yet, a plate of French fries appears on the lazy Susan and they are gobbled up.
After lunch we stop by the Hotel Des Mille Collines – the Hotel Rwanda – and have a beverage by the pool. I do not feel any special energy here regardless of what has taken place. It feels like just another luxury hotel. I ask everyone around our table to name their “best moments.”
Prayer with Anna Marie. Yoga with the workers at the jewelry cooperative. Ivuka gallery. Establishing a children’s library at WE-ACTx. A comedy sketch by the Amohoro children. Our favorite moments are those that are universal. Language-less. The ones that connect us to the people about us.
We return to our hotel and I lie on the bed and leak. Tears streaming down my face. Sue sits with me, listening. Holding space. I am not ready to go back to my life. And really, I don’t have to quite yet. I will be getting off the plane in Brussels to meet my old roommate and friend, Tim – traveling from Dublin for one night to meet me. I am sad to not be traveling with my friends. To turn off before them. And yet, it somehow seems right. That I am going somewhere else. Not quite yet home. Somewhere in the in between.
At the airport we drink a final African coffee (coffee, ginger, steamed milk and cocoa) and board a delayed plane. My original ticket has me sitting in an exit row but my boarding pass places me further back, in a window seat. I notice this in Nairobi and point it out to the flight attendant, but the flight is booked. The man next to me offers to switch seats so I can be on the aisle. It is good enough. What Sue and I call Africa good. And I am grateful for it.