As we are almost at the end of our Parisian experience I have been surprised by the Parisian themselves. Having been here three times before I had the impression that Parisians were aloof and standoff-ish. However when travelling now as a mom of a very engeretic toddler I have gotten to see a different side of Parisians. They are kind, friendly and helpful. Even when Eli is tearing down the sidewalk between legs and approaching every motorbike he sees, he is treated to smiles and lots of "bonjours"! It reminded me of one of our best African days in Rwanda.
Having hitched a lift with a newspaper delivery man from Uganda to Rwanda we knew that public transport might be limited. So we decided to hire two local guys to bring us along the shore of Lake Kivu, from Gisenyi to Kibuye, on the back of their motorbikes. This route was relatively unchartered for tourists so as we sped through the first few villages it became obvious that "mazungus" (white people) weren't normally seen in this area. The roads are constantly streaming with people; carrying water, provisions or school books. Life is lived in the outdoors and that day we provided entertainment to those who were watching the world go by. A constant shout of "bonjour!" was heard from the adults while the children squealed and shouted "mazungu,mazungu." Some were slightly overwhelmed by our unexpected appearance in their villages and after the initial shock would chase after us screaming "bonjour" while trailing off in laughter as our bike drivers negotiated the busy dirt roads. The rolling hills full of tea plantations on one side and the open expanse of Lake Kivu made for a beautiful landscape but this image reminds us always of that wonderful journey. A day that summed up what we felt about Rwandans; beautiful, friendly people.