We are counting days, fourteen to be exact, to the opening of an exciting new addition to Kigali’s leisure spots. Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park will open to the public on December 1. The park, a reclaimed and redeveloped wetland, is one of those laudable initiatives to make the city more livable. Of course, Kigali is already attractive, but additional beauty, a blend of urban and country, and a touch of environmental conservation do us all a lot of good and no harm. It will take some getting used to, though. Rwandans, especially of a certain generation, are generally not the usual sort who love a stroll in the park of an evening, or to sit on the benches reading a book or listening to music, even doing nothing, simply shutting out the whir and speed of daily living and occasionally dozing off. They are not your usual birdwatchers, binoculars in hand, following and classifying the birds as they fly and land and show off their plumes and colours. They are not likely to be overly fascinated by their shouts to each other in greeting or warning, or squawks in anger or annoyance, or cooing softly to woo. It is not their fault, really. They did not have any such parks to begin with and probably did not need any. Life outside the big towns was lived in a park of sorts, a garden paradise, that made a specially created one unnecessary. But times have changed. Many of them now increasingly live and work in closed, confined space. They need open space, clean air, serene surroundings to relax and detox, remove stress, recharge and revitalise. Others, mainly a young urban population, have grown up detached from nature and need to establish a connection for the above reasons, as well as environmental conservation which has become an existential matter of the times. The Nyandungu Park will help do all these things. It is there for our enjoyment, for conservation of nature, and admiration of the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. These are some of those intangible things which are not always given their due value but which add to the quality of life. I can already see people, singly, in pairs or groups, walking along the paved paths of the park, taking in the sights and sounds and savouring every moment. Some walk leisurely, stopping now and again to observe or admire something. Others hurry on, rushing to where only they can tell, perhaps responding to a sudden rush of adrenaline or burst of energy, or the need to burn some calories. In their different ways, they all enjoy the experience. I can see others seated on the benches, in silent contemplation, communing with self or with the spirits and gods, and sometimes taking off into some fantasy land. Occasionally, a smile comes to the lips and slowly spreads and finally breaks into open laughter. They are not mad, just responding to the charms of nature and the joys of solitude, and the freedom of the mind and soul to wander to wherever they please. That, by another name, is called pleasure and relaxation. There are those who will go to the park to heal the bruises and knocks of the workaday world, or from the suffocating air of familiarity and closeness. They will find that the serene and green soothe tired bodies and calm troubled spirits. A little distance helps, too. Those with a creative gift will find in the park the perfect place for the imagination to flourish. In the quiet, among the softly whispering trees and around the calm ponds, along the paths and on the benches, away from the hustle and bustle and impure air of the city, they will compose poems and songs and stories, and perhaps create their very best. The muses love such a place and there is nothing like solitude for inspiration. Some might find love there, perhaps from a chance encounter or meeting of kindred spirits or from offering to comfort a lonely soul. Others already in love might see it grow stronger or rekindled if it was waning. Solitariness and the tranquil atmosphere might evoke the bliss of that time in the past when everything was perfect between them and inspire a return to that state. Even those who have lost it will find solace there. To senior citizens, the park will be irresistible. They will walk, shuffle or totter along freely without the fear of being knocked down by someone in a hurry or busy on the phone. They might talk to themselves, laugh or even cry. No one should call them mad. They are only revisiting the past and finding some of it funny or incredible, unfamiliar or wondering how they lived through it. They will reminisce. They always do. Their lives are in the past, the future too short to be attractive. When they get tired or bored with watching noisy birds, looking up at tall trees or peering into the bushes, or when the glee of the reflection of their faces in the ponds becomes a scary realisation of the toll of time, they will retreat to the benches. Soon they will doze and dream and visit all the lands they had always wanted to. When they wake up, it will be a beautiful, serene, and charming environment. The park, like the biodiversity it hosts, will attract people of diverse backgrounds and intentions. Pickpockets, snatchers of phones and ladies’ bags, too, will make rich pickings there. Visitors, lulled to lowering their guard by the magic of the park will fall easy prey to the petty criminals. From what I hear this category of visitors has not waited for the official opening to start their work. They are already in business. So there is room for everyone in the park. It is truly a place of diversity. The views expressed in this article are of the writer.