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Instead of a Safari

Since the Safari was not going to happen, we went with plan B – return to Bujumbura so Tammy could be that much closer to getting on a plane home. We packed our bags and headed to the bus station for the 4 hour dive. Flory promised it was shorter than the drive to Kigali.

Flory was wrong. It took close to eight hours, and we had back seats withe the wheel well blocking our feet. The woman in front refused to let us have the window open, and we could smell the exhaust from the van. I’m pretty sure we wrote about this before, so we won’t go into too much detail.

We arrived in Bujumbura alive and began the recovery from the mild case of carbon monoxide poisoning. We are at a beautiful Hotel that gives us internet in our room and has the most darling restaurant on the top floor balcony with a view of the mountains. American food, air conditioning, internet, Tammy didn’t even complain that there was no hot water. We even have the 24 hour french news channel on the TV.

Inside the Hotel

View from rooftop restaurant.

When Flory and Amina came to get us last night he asked about our hot water that Tammy had wanted so badly. We told him the hotel didn’t have any. He was shocked and went to the desk to complain and apparently he was right that something was wrong with the plumbing to our room. We had gotten so accustomed to not having hot water it didn’t even occur to us that something might not be working right.

So we have been in the room updating the blog, answering email and getting our bags ready to leave. We went out this morning to buy some gifts and made a visit to the Batwa village – it is like a native American reservation only for Pygmies; The government moved the people right outside the city in 2000 to try to accustom them to modern life and to begin education for the children. Apparently it did not go as planned. Instead of living in the brick houses built by the government the people built their own mud huts and have not joined the rest of Bujumbura society.

Here are some shots of us in the Batwa village, note the beautiful Congolese dresses Georgette helped us buy.

Meeting the children

Yes, she is an adult. Grandmother actually.

On the way to and from the Batwa village, we passed a garbage dump outside Bujumbura. It was next to a pond where the Batwa and some people living on the outskirts of Bujumbura fish and bathe. We saw people digging through the garbage, Flory said they were looking for bread crusts or anything they could eat. It seemed so common to Flory, but was another shock to the level of poverty we were seeing. He couldn’t believe this doesn’t happen in the US, or that people make good money disposing of the garbage.

Searching for anything usable.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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