Saturday 9th February 2013
It was such a lovely morning with so many birds in full song swinging from one enormous colourful bloom to another. And I managed to tick off a new bird species (to me) before I’d even got half way round. I’d intended the day to be allocated to walking and swimming which I find always aid thinking but there was a such a lot going on it was difficult to concentrate on internal matters.
Pulling away from the lake to go up and over the hill, each bend offered another great view of the still lake shimmering under the paths of cormorants flapping furiously on and on.
By the looks of all the freshly caught sambaza (small fish) in buckets carried on the heads of the women moving carefully down the hill, perhaps the cormorants were evacuating to new pastures. Given that the fishermen are out all night every night with their bright lanterns to fool fish into swimming towards them, competition is fierce on the lake.
A young dog came bounding down the lane to catch up with the women and took such a fright when it saw me, it ran into the trees. We all laughed.
When I got to Cormoran, I remained the sole occupant of the lakeside for two exquisitely peaceful hours and it reminded me of how impossible it is to be outside and alone in Rwanda. Even in your own garden. I lay still on the sun lounger and observed the arrival of various kinds of brightly coloured lizards onto the warming rocks, a pintail quarrelling with a greenbul and all the other bird life enjoying the bright morning just as I was. And I thoroughly enjoyed my eye-level view of a colony of small ants living in the log table next to me.
There was so much going on that I felt like I was in my very own nature documentary; especially when a black and brown striped rodent of some sort came leaping across to grass on a sortie. What more delights were to offer themselves up? I looked at my watch. It was 9.30am.
Soon enough, people started to arrive and, inevitably, the lizards shrunk back into the shadows, the birds packed away their bunting and David Attenborough refused to return my calls. Only the ants seemed to take no notice, carefully carrying my accidentally-on-purposely discarded grains of sugar to their nest on the other side of the log.
It appears that not all grains of sugar are the same. Some are very small which one ant can lift without apparent difficulty. However, some grains are a little larger which requires up to three ants to carry. When this occurs, they seem to career off course from the nest in unexplained complex manoeuvres. Watching them, I was reminded of Laurel and Hardy in The Music Box trying to move a piano up a flight of stairs. Suffice it to say, ants are now my friends.
I then spent the rest of the day flopping in and out of the lake trying to swim far enough out to make the little fish leap out of the water in fright. The water was so still and a perfect temperature, it felt like being in one gigantic swimming pool (albeit a little green). Many people prefer not to swim due to bilharzia in the lake but I don’t believe this is a serious threat unless you wade through the reeds. Don’t miss out if you’re reading this in Rwanda and have never gone in. It’s glorious.
I finally dragged myself away in the early evening as it would be getting dark soon and a storm was grumbling around somewhere. The return walk was just as eventful with the finale of the day; seeing a large otter (probably spotted) fishing below me and lying on his back while biting at the fish in between his enormous paws. I’ve never seen one on Lake Kivu so was delighted with my very own catch of the day.
I got back to my room just as the storm hit and thoroughly enjoyed the warm shower on my lake soaked, sunburned skin.