Africans stink. Not inherently, they just don’t shower very often. I’ve noticed this unpleasant reality before but was reminded again of their acute body odor on the 3 hour bus ride from Kigali to Gisenyi. Curvy roads with crazy drivers, closed windows, and lots of people crammed into a bus are not a good combination for my stomach. Thankfully I made it to Gisenyi with my breakfast in tact.
Gisenyi is awesome, by far my favorite city I’ve been to. It’s right on the huge Lake Kivu and only a couple hundred meters away from Goma, DRC. Supposedly you look across at night and see Mount Nyiragongo glowing with its constant flow of lava. We sat for a couple hours on the beach drinking beer and eating barbeque, shooting the breeze and enjoying the scenery. I have to come back.
So basically I spent the day talking about a stove project with the co-founder of the outdoor gear company Marmot. He got out of the business a long time ago and started various other companies as well, so I made sure I listened to any advice or lessons he could give. He describes himself as a serial entrepreneur and after doing a lot of research on stoves, decided to sell everything, move to Rwanda and start this stove company. It’s cool seeing people who decide that money alone isn’t worth the time and effort. They combine business with a social mission to create something truly powerful that can change lives.
Tomorrow I head to Burundi, the country tied with the DRC for poorest in the world. Bujumbura is only 6 hours from Kigali and I wanted to see the countryside so I hired a driver to take me there. I’m stoked, but definitely know that Burundi will be a challenge. If I thought Rwanda was undeveloped, disorganized, poor etc. I’m sure Burundi will be more intense in every aspect. One of the things about living in Africa is that you become desensitized to poverty and injustice around you. After all, it’s everywhere. But as a fellow human being, I want to make sure the plight of real people struggling to survive moves me personally. At the same time, instead of becoming depressed or hopeless, I want to think of solutions to the problem. Ultimately, my time here is wasted if the things I see don’t make me say, “How can I change them?”