Miracles happen every day. One happened to me when I visited the remote country village of Kitabi/Nyungwe in Huye district. The journey was packed with excitements as well as adventurous events that have added new skills and experience of lifetime.
It was in mid April this year that Alison (Canadian), Jamie (American) and I (a Rwandan born British) took the chance and toured Nyungwe National Park.
We used the dormitories of Kitabi College of Conservation of Environment as the collage had closed for the Easter holiday break.
Kitabi was perfectly suitable for us. As soon as we arrived, we were directed to the reception for identity record. College staff members, Dr. Jethro, Richard and Alice warmly welcomed us.
Later on we decided to go for a short tour in Kitabi’s woods. Through tea plantations, we descended further down to the forest.
It is green all around Kitabi with its huge tea plantation and the woods. It felt very peaceful and relaxing unlike a typical hectic day in Kigali city.
Unknown to me, it was during this short sightseeing experience that something disastrous happened. The next day, we hit the road and drove for about 45 minutes to the Nyungwe forest as planned. I didn’t have any idea that I was in trouble.
Nyungwe forest is a well-maintained Park with its network of walking trails: Yellow, Pink, White and Red trail which we decided to take. Apparently, this was the hardest and the longest of the range.
This was going to be six hours walk in the forest. Three hours going and three hours back explained Claude, our tour guide. After a thorough briefing, the guide assured us that we were in safe hands and even if we needed help, the local ambulance would be available (with traditional carrier).
In the process of briefing and learning about our physical strengths and abilities, we soon learnt that all three of us had something in common. We had all had knee operations at one point in our lives. It was then that we declared ourselves the ‘Knee Crew.’ Is this a miracle or a coincidence?
We laughed about it and set out for our adventure. I enjoyed the threes, the feeling environment, the smell, and the sight of waterfalls. There were different types of flora and fauna that I never knew existed in Rwanda.
The first one hour and half were alright. As we progressed the trail got harder. The team took care of me they walked very slowly so that I did not get left behind. They were all very acquainted to hiking except me.
I kept climbing the mountain with multiple stopping intervals so that to catch my breath. The scenic beauty of Nyungwe National Park however outweighed my exhaustion.
My enjoyment of the beauty was interrupted by a phone call. It was my brother calling me from Kigali telling me that I had lost my passports.
At this point, I was too tired so talking was like sucking out my limited breath. I cut him short but called again a few minutes later to make sure the message passed correct. I was puzzled by the news as I wasn’t aware that my documents were lost.
I shared the news with the Knee Crew members who were as puzzled as me to understand how my documents which were supposedly with me in the Kitabi woods would have been discovered in Kigali. In addition to this mystery, how did my brother get involved?
‘Well my brother’s name and its contacts are in my passport’. I explained, ‘my brother’s name and contacts are written on the last page in my Rwandan passport.’
Rwandan passports provided an extra page where one can write the next of kin’s information and contacts in case of emergency. Thanks to the Kitabi local community and its tourism alertness my great adventure didn’t turn into sour memories.
A farmer found a wallet that contained my passports. It had come out of my hand bag by accident when I climbed a road cliff. He took the passport straight away to J. Baptiste, a farmer’s advisor working for Natural Resources, one of the ORTPN (Office Rwandais du tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux) partners.
Unfortunately, some countries’ passports do not provide that extra page for next of kin’s information to be contacted in case of loss.
Whether my case was a miracle, a coincidence or a trendy government, I am stunned by the work force that has contributed to the restoration of my travel documents.