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Into Africa

At the end of the week, I’ll be boarding a plane from Stockholm through Amsterdam and Nairobi before finally arriving, 18 hours later, in Kigali, Rwanda.

I arrive sometime after midnight, and Gretchen doesn’t arrive until the next morning. Fortunately, i’ve connected with a friend of a friend of a friend who lives there and is going to meet me in the center of town in the middle of the night. I’ll be the confused looking white girl with the suitcase. I hope he’ll be able to recognize me.

While I have technically been on the African continent before – sleeping in Bedouin huts on the beaches of Sinai – this will be my first trip to Sub-Saharn Africa. My heart starts pumping a little faster just to think about it. This is the Great Rift Valley, after all, this is the birthplace of our species. As an Anthropology major, I have a propensity to totally geek out on this part of the world. And Rwanda; land of the mountain gorillas, land of 1,000 hills, land of not one single international ATM.

Wait a second. No ATM? – in the entire country? Something about that simple fact snapped all my dewey fantasies back into sharp focus. Yep, this is a cash-only operation people, bring what you think you’ll need, and oh – by the way – no bills earlier than 2003.

In the modern world, it doesn’t get much more off the beaten path than that. In retrospect, it is telling that Lonely Planet doesn’t even make a Rwanda guide book. It’s just a measly 55 pages stuffed into the back of the East Africa multi-country guide. So yes, while it’s Africa: glorious recipient of my romantic imagination and intellectual curiosity, it is also Africa. While I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, I can be reasonably sure this will be different than anything else I’ve experienced. For many, many reasons.

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