Each time I travel to Rwanda I experience a movement of transition–the need to ease into a different place, and I’m learning that its important to do this well. Its a physical and time/space transition, but also a cultural one. A shift that is both external and internal. It takes a re-orienting of posture, perspective and expectation. One can’t just turn a switch and be in a totally new and different place. Its a journey of its own.
The long plane rides help with that, but I’ve also learned to build in a little time on the way to ease my body and mind (yes, and my spirit) into it. The last few trips we’ve gone through Belgium, as we did this time. We took advantage of a great public transport system to ride the rails and visit some historic sights, as well as tasting some local bounty, like chocolate
We wandered the streets and alleyways of Bruges, visiting the ancient Basilica of the Holy Blood, with its crypt and lower chapel dedicated to St. Basil. We could smell the North Sea, not far off, and we ate lunch outside on a sunny, yet crisp and breezy fall day. Bruges still feels medieval, while Brussels is anything but.
Venturing to Rwanda through Belgium is also reminder of Rwanda’s story, and the colonial era, when Belgium’s reach was wide and demanding, encompassing a large portion of central Africa (read King Leopold’s Ghost for some insight on this). So we came South, jet-lagged, through the old center of power, to the new Rwanda. I think I may be ready. We’ll see.