Rwanda from the sky

Rwanda – worth a visit

I’m sure that if you asked around, not many people will list Rwanda as one of their top tourist destinations to visit in Africa. This is partly due to ignorance (It’s a town somewhere in South Africa right? Err, no!), mainly because of the very bad things that happened in 1994 and probably because they just never considered the country for no reason what so ever.

In my field of work, I get to travel quite a bit in and around Africa. Only once you start travelling across the continent and immerse yourself in the local cultures do you begin to fully understand and appreciate the diversity, beauty and opportunity present in each country. More often than not, this is a far cry from the information we are exposed to in the news. Fun and interesting stuff does not always make the front page.

Some people will probably be shocked to hear that Rwanda is ranked the second highest economy in Africa, after Mauritius and before South Africa in the World Bank’s Ease of doing Business rankings. More notably some of the key indicators they scored top marks in Africa: Starting a business (it takes 2 days), registering a property (12 days) and getting credit. Rwanda placed second in obtaining electricity (South Africa ranked 27th) and enforcing contracts and third overall for paying taxes and protection of investors.

The Rwanda government is spending a great deal in promoting the country as an attractive tourist and conferencing destination. To this end they contracted Mammoth media in 2012 to produce their tourist brand videos. After delivering the finished video, Mammoth decided to create another edit to include all the bonus footage and outtakes.

This video certainly left me wanting to get to Rwanda as soon as possible.

Oh and if you do get to visit Rwanda, remember that plastic bags are banned. Tourists are warned not to bring them to the country. Who knew?


For a slice of watermelon

Today was by all accounts a pretty horrible day. It started with crazy traffic at 06:30. It was probably my own fault*.

traffic in the rearview mirror

I know I’m supposed to be out the house and pass a certain marker by latest 06:15 to ensure a relatively painless commute to work. The trip to Sandton normally takes 20 minutes max at that time of the morning. Leave any later and it can take up to 3 hours to complete the 17 km journey. Utter madness.

Yes, I could probably cycle that distance with my eyes closed and be better off for it on many levels. However, as many will know, Johannesburg’s roads are just not bike friendly.

There are also a number of initiatives such as Critical Mass, TourDeJozi and others campaigning for a safer, bike-friendly Joburg while experiencing the less visited parts of the city and having some fun in the process. You can view our antics through the streets of Jozi around the blog. But I digress.

I pushed on through the traffic and made it to work, only to be faced with some more challenges and the arduous trip back home through the horrendous traffic.

Against my better judgement, I also ignored doctor’s orders* and still went to the gym. Mostly to try and get some happy hormones pumping through the veins, but unfortunately due to the post-op discomfort, this also proved to be a pain in the proverbial.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all doom and gloom today. Chatting to some friends and family certainly made the day more bearable, but on a scale of 1 to 10 this day was certainly not a chart topper.

As the clocked counted down the last few minutes before the start of our complex’s AGM, coupled with some slight hunger pangs and feeling incredibly sorry for myself the most interesting thing happened.

I opened the fridge and found some cut slices of watermelon. Fresh, sweet, juicy watermelon. One bite into a chilled slice of watermelon and it felt like time was standing still, the heavens opening up, angels singing and all resistance crumbling.

“When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.” ~ Mark Twain

Maybe it was the sweet, cooling, juicy taste of the watermelon or perhaps the more technical amino acids, vitamins and hydration boosting properties of this fruit. Either way, following that brief moment of pure bliss my mood perked up immediately and the day didn’t seem so abhorrent after all.

In fact that became one of my favourite happy moments.

Oh for more slices of watermelon.

*On Monday I was in briefly in hospital for a small procedure. The doctor advised not to partake in strenuous activity for at least a week (preferably two) until the swelling has subsided and the stitches have healed up.


Taking stock

“People will forget what you said to them. They will even forget what you did to them. They will never forget how you made them feel.”
Maya Angelou

Today I was reminded again of how a small act of kindness, choice words of encouragement or even a wave from a distance “Just to say hi”, can brighten up your day.

It is these things people say or do that leave a lasting impression. The moments and words that linger in your memories and pop up in your mind in the most unexpected places and times.

It’s nice to be acknowledged,  appreciated, loved, inspired and even simply just remembered.

If you were posed the question, “What’s the one thing that made you happy today?” what would your answer be?

Of course for some the answer does not evoke the same response. By way of illustration:

American President John Adams wrote in his journal one day: “I went fishing with Charles. It was the worst day of my life.” His son, nine-year-old Charles, wrote in his journal. “I went fishing with dad. It was the happiest day in my life. “

If we dig deep and learn something special about the other person, their needs, expectations, thoughts, ideas,  dreams and values, I’m sure you will find something that you can fuel their energy, excitement and hapiness.

So, what’s the one thing that made you happy today?

A South African blog from Johannesburg