WHO: Dave Lewis, 56, of Andover
WHERE: Rwanda and Uganda
WHEN: Two weeks in May and June
WHY: ``It was part of the developing world, I knew the countries were safe, and I'd heard about the gorillas in Rwanda," said Lewis, who served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador 28 years ago .
FORESIGHT: Before he went, Lewis collected locally donated prescription eyeglasses to donate to the Kigali Health Institute , where he had made a contact online. ``I had an extra suitcase full of glasses," said Lewis. ``I had dinner with my contact, an Englishman who works for the government, and we talked about how Rwanda is progressing."
RICHES AND REMEMBRANCE: At Volcanoes National Park, Lewis climbed a couple of thousand feet over jungle trails with a group to see the mountain gorillas. ``The scenery, the gorillas, were amazing. They said we saw 38," he said. He likened the Rwandan landscape to ``a little Switzerland." Lewis visited the Musée National in Butare, which has an outstanding ethnographic collection, and on a Sunday morning visited the largest genocide memorial in Kigali, the capital . Lewis was moved to see thousands of mourners there.
ONLINE FROM OVER THERE: Along the way, Lewis, who teaches online courses to graduate business students at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, conducted a few online chats with his students, one while in Kigali, and the other from Uganda's capital, Kampala.
CONFLUENCE OF COUNTRIES : To get to Uganda, Lewis took a ride on a motorbike, or boda boda, to the border. ``I waited for 20 minutes for Rwandan customs to come and stamp me out, and walked 30 feet to Uganda and waited 20 minutes for a Ugandan border person to come." At his hotel, on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo , he enjoyed talking with ``aid workers, missionaries, and filmmakers going into the Congo, which is still in many parts a war zone."
WHITE-WATER, WHOOOAH: Lewis took a 12-hour bus ride to Kampala, ``a big capital city, very chaotic, with lots of boda boda, cars, and taxis." He spent a day white-water rafting with a group near Jinja, on Lake Victoria, near the source of the White Nile River. ``It's a typical traveler -backpacker highlight," he said. ``I've done a reasonable amount of river rafting, but on the first run, a Class IV, I fell out, along with a couple other people. The second, a Class III, the boat capsized, and the third, a Class IV, the boat capsized again. I sat out the Class V." He did a few more runs later .
STORIES GREAT AND SMALL: Lewis's final stop was Entebbe, a small town also on Lake Victoria made famous in a raid by Israeli commandos that freed 100 hostages from a hijacked plane in 1976. ``It's the old British capital, with a lovely zoo and botanical gardens and an 18-hole golf course," Lewis said. From there he visited Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which cares for orphaned chimpanzees rescued from poachers and with no chance of survival in the wild. ``You're fenced in watching them," he said.
COME SEE WHERE THEY WENT
Send suggestions within two weeks of your return to email@example.com.