Rwanda is a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. Part of this is more of an abstract curiosity in the country's success following one of the worst events of my lifetime in the genocide. But probably even more than that is the personal connection I had through Willy, the of my best friends in college at GVSU. We met when we were RAs together during my sophomore year. Since that time, he has come to my parents' home and restaurant on numerous occasions. When I knew I would be based in Botswana for the year, I told him he needed to come home at some point so that I could come visit him. Fortunately all worked out. I got to meet his parents and we even went on a short trip together to an absolutely beautiful place: Lake Kivu. The drive out there took longer than I would expect for the distance; the roads were in good condition but Rwanda was living up to it's name as land of a thousand hills. It made for a beautiful ride.
While nowhere near the size of Lake Victoria, Kivu is a large lake that borders Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is bordered by a number of mountains and large volcanoes, as is typical for the region. The largest is Nyiragongo in DRC, with an elevation of 3,470 m (11,380 ft). We were considering exploring some of the islands and a boat ride, but we were a little too late in the day to make that feasible with the smaller boat. It also looked like it could rain at any time. After much debate, Willy and I decided to take a speed boat around the islands. The weather looked very threatening from the start. While we were almost sure we'd get soaked, it turned out to be some of the best cloud pictures I've ever taken and one of the most thrilling hours of the whole year on the continent.
I'm sure this would have been fun any day of the year, but as you can see, these clouds made it much more enjoyable. Willy and I soaked in the experience for a solid 30-40 minutes while visibility remained good, then the rains came and soaked us through and through. It showed us that sometimes we don't get what we were expecting, but that the unexpected can give us even more than we could dream of.