Weekends here in Rwanda as an intern provide great opportunities to go and explore new places. There is a big bus station in Musanze within walking distance from the house where I stay. We can go and purchase a bus ticket for under $2 and be in a totally new place within hours.
My first weekend here was just spent moving into the house and getting acquainted with life in Musanze. The second weekend the interns and I went to Kigali for the weekend. This was a great experience! We walked around the streets, went shopping, and even went to a soccer game in Amahoro stadium.
My third weekend here the interns and I took a bus trip to Gisenyi. Gisenyi is a beautiful coastal city in Rwanda’s Western Province. It’s shoreline is filled with restaurants, boats, and beach volleyball. We got a bus in late morning, and we took a long boat ride around Lake Kivu all afternoon. Gisenyi is nearly continuous with Goma, a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While out in the boat we sailed into the water beside Goma and got a great view of the city. Halfway through the boat ride we stopped at a rock to take photographs.
Our captain explained in broken English that this rock was called “prison rock.” Curious, I googled the rock on the bus ride back and learned that its official name is Kabakobwa. It is one of several tiny rock islands in lake Kivu where unmarried pregnant girls were left to die. To be pregnant before marriage in Rwanda was believed to bring a bad omen to the family. No one would ever accept them for marriage again, so they were just discarded on the islands by their families.
The practice stopped in the 1970s, and it became a way for families to scare their daughters to not behave in such a way. Now the island is a great spot for pictures for tourists, and I think it is also a symbol of how far Rwandan society has come in a short amount of time.