Monday, December 9, 2013

Sweet Dreams are made of…ice cream.

Rwanda’s tropical climate, in my opinion, warrants frozen delights. Despite having awesome sunny weather most of the year, there is only one full-fledged ice cream parlor in the country. 

Three hours from Kigali sits the small university town of Butare, home to Inzozi Nziza ice cream parlor (“sweet dreams” in Kinyarwanda, en-zoh-zee en-zee-zah). 

vanilla ice cream with pineapple and granola. nom!
ice cream. coffee. dreams.
Inzozi Nziza is much more than an ice cream parlor. The parlor is owned and operated by Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe cooperative, aptly named Ingoma Nshya  (“new drum”, “new reign”, or “new era” in Kinyarwanda).

Together the women of Ingoma Nshya - orphans and widows of those who perished and the wives and children of perpetrators- are breaking cultural taboos against women playing drums and paving new paths by introducing a new dessert to Rwanda.

The story of Ingoma Nysha is captured in the newly released documentary, “Sweet Dreams”. Watch the trailer below.
“Sweet Dreams, the newly released documentary film about their story, was shown at the United Nations to an audience of 400 people, and was featured in Maryland’s Silver Docs Film Festival. The film follows the remarkable story of these women as they emerge from the devastation of the genocide to create a new future for themselves as Rwanda’s first female drumming troupe, and as they open and run Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop. The women staff the store and share equally in the business.”
Sweet Dreams Film Trailer from Liro Films on Vimeo.

Delicious ice cream + peace + reconciliation + sustainable income generation= #winning!!! Be sure to check out Inzozi Nziza when you visit Rwanda. They’re in the works of opening a second location in Kigali. Stop by and let me know which flavor is your favorite.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

If I had one day in: Gisenyi, Rwanda


Gisenyi is a resort town on the shores of Lake Kivu, contiguous to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). From Kigali, it is a three hour bus ride or a 30-minute flight on RwandaAir.


If I had one day in Gisenyi, Rwanda, here is how I would spend it…

I would book a room or bungalow at Hotel Paradise Malahide and have breakfast at their restaurant. Rumor has it, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stayed here.


Paradise Malahide Hotel

After a few cups of African Tea, I would catch a taxi-moto to downtown Gisenyi. In downtown Gisenyi, I would stop in at the market. At the market, I would buy ibitenge (wax fabric). There’s a more expansive and unique collection than the markets in Kigali.


I would then walk down the gorgeous Avenue de la Cooperation, stop in the cooperative craft markets, and snap a billion photographs.

Keeping my eyes open for birds like this…


And views like this…



Having worked up an appetite from walking, I would head over to La Corniche for the ubiquitous Rwandan lunch buffet. Or, back to Paradise Malahide for fresh tilapia or sambaza (tiny sardine-like fish).


After lunch, I’d stroll over to the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel to lounge at the beach and pool. Stop by the hotel’s front desk to get a day pass (less than $10 USD). Order a fresh pineapple or mango cocktail. Skip the cheesecake.

Gisenyi Beach

I’d finish the evening by walking to Le Bistro at White Rock for dinner. Grab a glass of wine or a cold beer while you wait about an hour for your food. After devouring a Spinach Pizza, I’d pull my friends downstairs for a night of dancing to American Top 40, Reggae, and East African Hits.

On the way back to the hotel, I would catch glimpses of Nyiragongo Volcano lighting up the sky.

Urugendo Rwiza! Have a great trip!

***A word of caution: Before visiting this region, be sure to check the local news and State Department website for updates on the situation in the Eastern DRC (specifically Goma- next door to Gisenyi). ***

images:ExpertAfrica/MakeMyDinner/ParadiseMalahide/LHirlimann/ AfricaTravelResource/LaCorniche/ShivaniSuresh

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gastronomic Diplomacy: 4 “street-inspired” foods to try in Rwanda

Street food is illegal in Rwanda - so let's call these "street-inspired" foods. You can find these scrumptious snacks being sold on the street, from the trunk of a car in front of the market, or at a local alimentation. It is also common to find these foods being sold at bus stops when you travel outside of Kigali.

Eating street food anywhere can come with risks. Aim to find vendors who wash their hands and cooking utensils with clean water, cook foods thoroughly, and serve them hot to kill any bacteria. How can you be sure of this? Ask them to do all of these steps while you watch. Keep these concerns in mind, but don't let them stop you from enjoying the amazing street food.


Rolexes originated from Uganda. The name “rolex” has nothing to do with the luxury watch company, but rather relates to the way it is made pronounced in a thick Lugandan accent: rolled + eggs = rolex. The ingredients are a chapati (Indian flat-bread) and an omelet. Many times you can ask for tomatoes, onions, chips (fries), carrots or cabbage to be mixed with your eggs.


Ikigori (one ear of maize)/Ibigori (maize plural)


Sambusas (samosas) are a culinary import brought to the East African region by Indian servants during the British colonial era. They are deep-fried pastries filled with either meat or veggies.


Mandazi (also known as maandazi/ndao) are East African doughnuts.

images: KivaFellows/Two&HalfBackpacks/EnRootRwanda/SwahiliVillage

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reverse culture shock explained in gifs PT. 2

Written to the sound of this.

I wish there were a way to pick up digital conversations where one left off, as though the internet were a life-long best friend who lives on a different coast. I wish I felt no responsibility to connect the dots of narratives, to tell the story of what happened between my last post and now.

It has been an extraordinary time. It has also been an extraordinarily difficult time. I still cannot write the story of these days. I simply want to live it. To be mindfully present. Life is robbing me of words and it is the most welcome thief. The words can wait. Until the words return, I’ll let the gifs do the talking.

When someone ask me what I miss about Rwanda…
Sometimes I find myself crossing the street like this…
And then I remember pedestrians have the right of way here, so I walk like this…
When I realized all of my favorite fruits cost an arm and an ovary here…
When I watch or read anything about Rwanda…
Me listening to music from Rwanda…
And my friends are just like…
When I accidently answer a question in Kinyarwanda or Swahili, people are just like…
Me attempting to keep up with the pace of life here…
How I feel most days…
When I awkwardly greet people with a hug or kisses on the cheek…
When I found awesome flight deals to East Africa…
When someone asks me why I want to move back abroad…

And then they’re like…

Anytime someone invites me to take a trip out of Dallas with them…

When public restrooms have a toilet seat (#smallthings), I’m just like this…

When people invite me out…I’m just like…

Quick note: This month, I am participating in a 31 Day Writing Challenge (#31WriteNow), which means I’ll be posting something new to the blog for the next 31 days! Also, I am in the process of giving the blog a makeover. Hope you’ll enjoy!