We drive up the low mountains–very well paved road so far in Rwanda as we make our way on Christmas Day from Kigali to Congo. Traffic is “good” Bintu says meaning it is not as bad as usual. We do stop for a small wreck. A mini SUV as lost one wheel off the curb and is stuck. No wonder, the curb is 3 feet (over a meter) sheer drop. The SUV probably sits on its axle.
I know that sound–the drop, the clonk of your metal car frame on paving. I did that backing out of a friend’s driveway in Kentucky when I was in school at Murray State University. Just like at home, someone with a big truck and a chain is pulling the car out. The wait is not long and we are moving quickly.
Not like home, the military police with guns stop our car. One stands at a distance. One ventures close, bent over, body turned sideways (suspicious?). He inquires of the driver who only cracks the window a few inches and reaches for paperwork. The gunman doesn’t want to see it. He prowls around back looking over our luggage from outside with only a brief glance at the passengers. I slipped my camera away, not wanting undue attention. Bintu types away on her laptop. She and I keep talking about the Biblical financial seminar I will give. Neither of us glances at the armed man outside. All is well and we are sent on our way again.
There are more people out than I expected, walking or 2 to a motor bike, buses packed full, some bicycles–and oh the dresses! Several women wear beautiful full-length gowns in often bright patterns, sometimes soft. I want to stop to ask each one if I can photograph them.
Crazy Kristin. We have a 6 hour drive.
I ask Bintu where all the people are going? Most are coming home from Christmas Day Services.
I am like Scrooge–awake to life all around me and just realizing the day.
What day is it? Why Kristin, it’s Christmas Day!
I say, “Joyeux Noel” to everyone (everyone I speak to anyway). The “el” in Noel refers to God just as it does in the names for God used in the Old Testament (El Shaddai, El Elyon, Elohai) and nee or no is birth.
It is a great day to drive through these mountains. Bintu informs me that Rwanda is called the Switzerland of Africa. I crack the window to enjoy the cool air. Mountain jungles do not scream Christmas–though the present I am looking for is around another hour of bends.
Kristin King is an author, publisher and president of non-profit Future Hope Africa. She is spending what she calls the “12 Days of Christmas in Congo” visiting the educational mission.