Wednesday, January 23, 2013


             3.5 weeks total
             20 airports
             10 being unique 
             43 hours in the air, not counting layovers or any time in the airports
             6 different countries


SYR, JFK -> Ft. Laud, MIA -> Port Au Prince

Port Au Prince -> JFK


SYR, DC, Addis Ababa, Uganda -> Kigali

Kigali -> Uganda -> Addis -> Rome, DC, SYR 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Thousand Barefoot Children Outside

    Finishing up the last full day here in Rwanda. In the middle of packing. Thelonious Monk and Soulive are keeping me going during this process.

    Today we rehearsed with some theater students from the Kigali Institute of Education, and planted our seeds for the show we will be created over the next few months. It was great working with peers who don't think like Americans. Every time they would give ideas and collaborate with us my "brain jaw" would drop to the floor. These men and woman (there was only one girl) are brilliant. I wish we had another two weeks to spend with them creating a work of art.

    I could write a book on the dinner we had tonight. More info on that as soon as I can digest everything. I ate the best fish and avocado I will probably ever eat. Well, I take that back. It sits even with Jaques fish in Haiti. But nothing will touch that avocado.

    I'll be posting a big recap and will talk more about dinner tonight when I get stateside. I plan on doing a lot of writing/sleeping on the plane ride home tomorrow. So don't leave yet.

The group, minus Eve and I

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Three Dogs, Two Cats, and Two Horses

    Today we went to the Gihembe Refugee Camp. There are about 20,000 Africans who have fled to Rwanda from surrounding countries living in this camp due to war and conflict. The living conditions are poor, and very heartbreaking. We were invited in to Clovis's house to meet his mother. Clovis is a young man who is in his fourth year at a university in Kigali. He grew up in this camp. His mother was so beautiful. She was wearing a beautiful purple dress and happily opened her house to us. This house could not have been more than 10'x15' and the roof was very low. As a thank you for visiting her she gave us a corn and bean dish to eat. The corn tasted unlike any I have had before. After we left we took a walk around the camp. About five steps out of the house I had no less than five kids clinging to my arms. They rubbed my arms, touched my nails, pulled out my arm hair and never let go.
    We made it back to the basketball court so we could perform for a few of the residents. By a few I mean about 300. By the time we were 5 minutes in we were surrounded by roughly 582 people and the little kids were getting closer. What a great experience.
    By the way, I clearly made those numbers up. There were most likely more people than that, but there could have been less.

    We went back to Kigali to start acting with some students from the Kigali Institute of Education who are also studying theater. I don't fancy myself as an actor, but spending some time acting felt pretty good. These students are smart, very smart and a lot of fun to work with.

The boy with his hand in his mouth didn't let go of me the whole time we were walking around the camp

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Crows Have White Chests

    Yesterday morning we went to the Nyungwe National Rainforest for a quick 2 mile hike. I think it ended up taking 2 hours though. We had to be over 2 miles above sea level. Kigali is already a mile above, and we just kept climbing hills and mountains to get to the rainforest. I have never smelled something so true and clean. I take that back, I have. It's called the Adirondack's, but these smells were smells I've never smelt. Part of the hike had a canopy walk. Sitting here typing this, I got three different heights we were at, which I am having troubles believing all of them. We couldn't have been more than 80-90 feet above the ground. People were told we were 70 meters above the ground, which is around 229 feet. No way. Needless to say, it was a great hike. 
    After the hike we went to the Murambi Genocide Memorial. The most difficult memorial we have been to. I would much rather talk about what we saw there in person, so come find me. 

    Today today today. What a day. We started out with the Women Drummers of Butare. It's taboo here for women to drum so this group is pretty special. They performed for about a half hour. I have never felt music like this. Being front row at the Utica Memorial seeing Phish, and watching them bring in the new year at Madison Square Garden has not allowed me to feel music this way. The music coming from the drums was racing through my veins, I felt eat beat physically. I was nearly brought to tears as I watched these women dance, drum, and sing to us. Seeing the joy in their faces alone could suffice for a full blown show. 
    After they finished playing we got a chance to learn some of their rhythms. They laughed, we laughed, they played, and we played. Unfavorable lighting created a difficult environment to photograph the performance, meaning a lot of the photos did not come out right, especially the dancing and drumming. These women are special and need to be recognized around the world for their talent and what they represent. 
    Our next stop was the Huye Prison. It took Carl and Drew a few times to get us permission to visit the prison. They had to get papers to present to the guards just to let us in. But once we got in, it was like we weren't even in a prison minus the pink and orange suits that the inmates wear. The pink means they have been sentenced, and the orange means they are waiting their sentence. Something that was interesting is that the guards are not armed while in the prison. There were no guns in the open, and there weren't that many guards either. About 90% of the inmates are in that prison because they had a hand in the genocide. 
    We went to go get a tour of the female block and were welcomed with dozens of singing inmates welcoming us to the prison. I was not expecting that one bit. We were escorted by the performers to where about 500 female inmates were seated. We were asked to sit in the front, facing them. A few groups of the women have prepared dances and vocal numbers, all traditional Rwandan music. 
    After they were done, a male inmate told us the history of the genocide, and his role in it. He told us he killed 100 people, 70 men and 30 women. Here was this man, with this on his hands yet he was just like any other Rwandan I have met on this trip. As we left, we were each given a hand made basket from the prisoners. We weren't allowed to have cameras in the prison, so I was not able to capture these moments. 
    Oh yeah, we were all brought up to dance with the women. I was not going to get up there, until this little old lady picked me up off my feet and threw me in to the middle of the dances. I can't believe she actually lifted my body off the ground and pushed me. 

The fact that I wrote this much is quite astounding. If you made it this far, congratulations. Here are some photos. 

Taken outside the Murambi memorial

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ketchup, Cats Up

Time for a bit of catching up.

    A few days ago we went to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial. There are no words to express what I saw there, only that it was one of the most heartbreaking experiences I have had.
    That night we met with a lady named Carol. Sadly, I did not get her last name. She runs an arts center here in Kigali titled Ishyo Arts Center. For the past few months she has been fighting with the government who is trying to kick her out of her building, therefore ending the arts center. She does lots of theater here and works with Kiki, who we met earlier in the week. At the moment I believe she has pushed back her "eviction" until March. She is an amazing woman who is fighting to keep theater alive here. We spoke for a few hours about her work, and she asked about our work. Surprisingly enough, she also does work in Haiti. So I am hoping that she can give me a few people I can get in contact with next time I am down there. That would really be helpful to me since I would love to help with a theater group in Haiti.
    There have been several more things we have done in the past two days but I don't have the energy to write about them. Soon.

    So to make up for my lack of writing, here are a few photos from the youth dance company we visited today. I took about 550 photos of these kids dancing. Only 128 made the cut though.

At ease.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Photo Only

Photo's Taken 1/13/13-1/14/13: Unknown
Photo's Kept 1/13/13-1/14/13:   164

I'll do a bit of writing tomorrow on the past few days. Here are a few photo's from the Nyamata Genocide Memorial and Gerard Sena's enterprise.



Luggage made it to me yesterday.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crossing The Bucket List

Photo's taken 1/12/13: 555
Photo's kept 1/12/13:   328

Photograph the African sunrise. Check.
Photograph wild African animals. Check.