My last run (a pictorial description)

April 2, 2010

I always feel uncomfortable pulling out my camera in Rwanda when it’s not to photograph obviously touristy things like gorillas or monuments. I try not to stand out more than I have to (which is already a lot), and photographing something is a surefire way to set yourself apart from it – if it was a part of your normal reality, why would you want a picture? Some people seem to feel exploited by this, which they show by wagging a finger or shaking a head when they see a camera. Some try to exploit it for their own gain, like the Maasai in Tanzania who wait by the side of the road to pose enthusiastically for pictures and then demand money for them.

But my runs through the valley behind our house, and the families that have punctuated (and participated in) them, have been such a vibrant part of my everyday life for the past seven months, and they exemplify so much of why I have come to love Rwanda (and why it breaks my heart), that I couldn’t bear to go on my last one without taking back some way to remember them.

So, a little apprehensively, I brought my camera along. I hoped that because I had been a daily sight for these families for so long, they wouldn’t be suspicious or disapproving of my picture-taking, and luckily (I think), I was right. My camera-accompanied run elicited no wagging fingers or shaking heads, only smiles and rounding choruses of “bite” (pronounced “bee-tay,” kinyarwanda for “hi”) and “goodmorning,” the standard English greeting every child seems to learn and practice enthusiastically at all times of day.

Although I’m excited about returning to exercising at sea level (many months at 1500 meters has been good for my stamina but bad for my self esteem), and the Charles in the springtime definitely has a different kind of beauty, my morning runs through Urwego valley are one of the things I will miss most about Rwanda.

Click here for a slide show:

2 Responses to “My last run (a pictorial description)”

  1. AJ Says:

    That is a very cool picture essay Nena! I felt like I was on the run with you, except I don’t feel as winded as I would have been. Also, how nice to be able to run on something other than pavement.

  2. Uncle K Says:

    Great pic’s, it was so nice to see you yesterday in B-ville. Good luck in all your travels in the next few weeks.

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