Monday, May 21, 2012

Tricia Cortez Goes To Africa

Local environmentalist Trica Cortez shared with the public this weekend her experience of traveling to Africa earlier this year.  Through the use of slides, she gave us some background on the four countries she visited: Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (Zanzibar).  Her photos and personal accounts gave us an idea of just how dynamic the people, and land of Africa really are.

What impressed me most was that Ms. Cortez made use of several means of transportation to get around Africa; And for accomodations she relied on hostels.  This, of course, meant she was traveling on a tight budget.  I like to think I'm somewhat adventurous, but hitching rides with nuns, riding on the back of motorcycles, and sharing living quarters with the natives might be a tad out of my comfort level.  Still, I appreciate her determination. 

Ms. Cortez spoke of what piqued her interest to go to Africa.
The inspiration was the Rwandan genocide of 1994.  I've been very curious about this.  I couldn't understand how a country could self destroy and I wanted to see how it has improved over the last 18 years.  And I'd heard that Rwanda has been the success story, so I wanted to see this.  So the heart of my trip was Rwanda and I added these other things.

Going across the globe, I would think you would experience some type of culture shock.  I asked about this to see if there were any surprises.
The heat is tremendous.  And some of the things that stood out, you're right, you saw in Kibera -- inaudible -- the trash.  And then in Rwanda, very organized, very clean country, very disciplined country - total 180 degree different and change.
One day she noticed the streets of the city being empty.  It was explained to her that the people were busy cleaning up their neighborhoods, as they were supposed to once a month by mandate.  Sounds like something we could benefit from here.

When I think of Africa I think social strife, dictators, and challenging environs, but it's so much more than that.  It's a land with immense beauty, with a people in tune with their past, yet engaged in the present.  I don't know if I'll ever visit Africa, but I'll keep it on my short list of places to see.

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