“You Travel Far Enough, You Find Yourself”

I'm going going back back to Rwanda Rwanda. The journey is becoming familiar.
I’m going going back back to Rwanda Rwanda. The journey is becoming familiar.
Cleanest streets under the Equator. Kigali By Day.
Cleanest streets under the Equator.
Kigali By Day.
Kigali. Taken from the Kigali Genocide Memorial, my workplace. This is place is starting to feel more and more familiar.
Kigali.
T
Good vibes only.
Good vibes only.[/captio

[caption id="attachment_244" align="aligncenter" width="788"]Early morning ride. Kigali to Ngororero. Early morning ride. Kigali to Ngororero.

Ngororero, Rwanda
Ngororero, Rwanda
I love the fact that this country makes me feel small and forces me to notice it.
I love the fact that this country makes me feel small and forces me to notice it.
Nyabarongo River. En route from ngororero To Kigali.
Nyabarongo River. En route from ngororero To Kigali.
Nyabarongo River.
Nyabarongo River.

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I moved back. I took a break from the blogging to focus on the country itself and not experience it through my lens. As much as I wanted to share each and every experience with the world, the truth is that not every experience can be shared in that way. Most things in life still require you to experience it first hand. That’s why I live to travel.

I spent May in the States and almost immediately, I was reminded of why I was in such a hurry to leave the country. I’m happier in Rwanda than I’ve been in a long time. I have my own little life here and it works for now. I like that I’m always distracted by something new and different than what I’ve known all these years. When I leave the city [Kigali] and I’m surrounded by greenery and hills, I feel small and I feel like it’s the land’s way of forcing me to pay attention to it. To recognize it. For what it is today. What it was yesterday. And what it will be like tomorrow. This time, I booked a one-way ticket to Rwanda and I don’t know when I’ll be back stateside because at the at the moment, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Emphasis on “for now”. A nomad always has one foot outside the door but for now, this is fine with me.

I’ll stop here for now but for those of you hungry for more, I update my tumblr a lot more often (and I post way too many self-portraits) so check it out: www.lifethroughanslr.tumblr.com.

City Of Angels x Sin City

So I spent the month of May living out of a suitcase. First few stops were Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Appropriately enough, most of the events that took place could not be photographed or filmed. Here are the ones that made the cut.

LA...where the livin's easy and breezy.
LA…where the livin’s easy and breezy.

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What would people complain about in LA if there was no traffic?
What would people complain about in LA if there was no traffic?
Sin City.
Sin City.
We were here. Three amigos.
We were here. Three amigos.
Bye Bye West Coast.
Bye Bye West Coast.

Cheers to 2014

Fresh brochettes at 4am in Kigali. Worth noting. Always. Thank you Rwanda. My [preferred] pescatarian diet is on hold until further notice.
Fresh brochettes at 4am in Kigali. Worth noting. Always. Thank you Rwanda. My [preferred] pescatarian diet is on hold until further notice.
It has been over 2 months since my last update and I’m not sorry. I  want to avoid  becoming one of those people having-an-experience-just-for-the-sake-of-instagramming-it-later and so every now and then, I just choose to focus on the experience. Besides, you just can’t capture everything that happens to you and then expect to share those things with others in a way that does it justice. Rwanda continues to be good to me. I had taken a break to visit family, friends and colleagues in the States, but I’m back now and I have to admit that I really missed this place while I was away. After meeting with and losing a battle with the infamous “Polar Vortex”, I was comforted knowing that I would be returning to sunny Kigali. I’m excited about the year and the rest of my time in this country. I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Truthfully, I’m glad for that. I’m also looking forward to getting out of Kigali more and seeing more of Rwanda in general. Naturally, I  am also hoping  for more out-of-Rwanda experiences and new passport stamps, Insha ‘Allah. As this is a photoblog, let me show you what I’ve been up to and I hope to do this a tad more frequently this year.

Fabric heaven, called "ibitenge", sold in Rwanda but mainly from the Congo. I will be adding at least one ibitenge outfit to my closet once a month.
Fabric heaven, called “ibitenge”, sold in Rwanda but mainly from the Congo. I will be adding at least one ibitenge outfit to my closet once a month.
Walking through Nyamirambo is a good way to spend a day in Kigali. There is so much life, so many different shops and I just love the signage. Nine West anyone?
Walking through Nyamirambo is a good way to spend a day in Kigali. There is so much life, so many different shops and I just love the signage. Nine West anyone?

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Also taken in Nyamirambo. This place is home to most of the city's muslims and it's the last place my family lived before we left the country.
Also taken in Nyamirambo. This place is home to most of the city’s muslims and it’s the last place my family lived before we left the country.
Taken in Kiyovu in late December, right before I left Rwanda for my trip to the States. I just love snapping pics in this area. Def. one of the prettiest in all of Kigali.
Taken in Kiyovu in late December, right before I left Rwanda for my trip to the States. I just love snapping pics in this area. Def. one of the prettiest in all of Kigali.
Souvenirs and things from an arts collective behind Simba's supermarket in town. The lady who sold me these knows me by name now.
Souvenirs and things from an arts collective behind Simba’s supermarket in town. The lady who sold me these knows me by name now.
Also from the same arts collective. Did I say how much I love these clutches? I had to bring a few to the States.
Also from the same arts collective. Did I say how much I love these clutches? I had to bring a few to the States.
Mototaxi life. How I get around about 99% of the time.
Mototaxi life. How I get around about 99% of the time.
Life doesn't make sense without "Akabanga". There is no way I would have dared to visit my family without bringing at least a dozen of these with me.
Life doesn’t make sense without “Akabanga”. There is no way I would have dared to visit my family without bringing at least a dozen of these with me.
I brought in the new year in the big Apple. Had to brave the icy temperatures to check off a bucket list item: see Times Square.
I brought in the new year in the big Apple. Had to brave the icy temperatures to check off a bucket list item: see Times Square.
Time Square? Check. NYC, Jan. 2014.
Time Square? Check. NYC, Jan. 2014.

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University of Southern California. This place changed my life. It felt good to be back for some time.
University of Southern California. This place changed my life. It felt good to be back for some time.
Downtown Los Angeles as seen from Takami. I will always love this place.
Downtown Los Angeles as seen from Takami. I will always love this place.
L.A. Jan 2014.
L.A. Jan 2014.
Taken shortly after I returned to Rwanda a few weeks ago. I'd forgotten how incredibly low the fog can get in this place.
Taken shortly after I returned to Rwanda a few weeks ago. I’d forgotten how incredibly low the fog can get in this place.
Taken while visiting Agahozo Shalom Youth Village for the first time in the Rwamagana district. Great school, great view and I’m going back soon.
Taken while visiting Agahozo Shalom Youth Village for the first time in the Rwamagana district. Great school, great view and I’m going back soon.

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Taken while visiting Gashora Girls Academy in the Bugesera district. What a view. I get to spend a weekend here soon and can’t wait.
Taken while visiting Gashora Girls Academy in the Bugesera district. What a view. I get to spend a weekend here soon and can’t wait.

Buja, Buja

On October 25th, I began my weekend trip to  Bujumbura, Burundi not by choice but largely because I had to. With my 3-month visa nearing expiration, I had to leave the country (Rwanda) so that I could then come back and extend my visa for another 3 months. When I arrived in Rwanda in August, the plan was to apply for a one year work visa but I was missing one document at the time of my application and was only able to get a temporary visitor visa. Fast forward to October and with my missing document still in "progress", I knew that there would be a time when I'd have to leave the country for a bit and come back to reapply. However, I made one huge mistake when I crossed into Burundi- I had forgotten to check on the visa requirements for Americans arriving in Burundi and was unaware of the entrance fee for a 3-day visa. So what happened? My bus left me behind and with no ATM machine in sight in order to withdraw the needed cash and without enough Rwandan currency on me to exchange it for dollars (hate traveling with money because it's easier to lose so I prefer cards) so that I could pay for my Burundi visa, I was forced to go back the way I came. Until then, my American passport had spoiled me. I had never had to pay for an entrance visa before. Certainly not when I traveled to the U.K., Croatia or Bosnia only two years before. You travel and you learn. Having crossed back into Rwanda and searching desperately for a ride back towards Butare where I could spend the night and try again in the morning, I finally found a seat on a bus and off I went. You travel and you learn.
On October 25th, I began my weekend trip to Bujumbura, Burundi not by choice but largely because of visa requirements. With my 3-month visa nearing expiration, I had to leave the country (Rwanda) so that I could then come back and extend my visa for another 3 months. When I arrived in Rwanda in August, the plan was to apply for a one year work visa but I was missing one document at the time of my application and was only able to get a temporary visitor visa. Fast forward to October and with my missing document still in “progress”, I knew that there would be a time when I’d have to leave the country for a bit and come back to reapply. However, I made one huge mistake when I crossed into Burundi- I had forgotten to check on the visa requirements for Americans arriving in Burundi and was unaware of the entrance fee for a 3-day visa. One of my finer moments. So what happened?  With no ATM machine in sight in order to withdraw the needed cash and without enough Rwandan currency on me to exchange it for dollars (hate traveling with money because it’s easier to lose so I prefer cards), my bus left me behind and I was forced to go back the way I came. However, there was no way I was going to return to Kigali without my passport stamp so I decided to head to Butare and try again the next day.  It was too late to book a seat on another bus heading to Bujumbura so I had no option but to stay in Huye. Until then, my American passport had spoiled me. I had never had to pay for an entrance visa before. Certainly not when I traveled to the U.K., Croatia or Bosnia only two years before. You travel and you learn. Having crossed back into Rwanda, I finally found a seat on a bus and off I went to Huye. You travel and you learn. The good thing is, I’m now well acquainted with the Rwandan and Burundian immigration officers on both sides of the border so let me know if you ever need a favor (kidding).
My Hotel Room at Hotel Ibis in Huye, Butare. Not bad.
My room at Hotel Ibis in Huye, Butare. Not bad and under $30 bucks for the night.
My first solo meal in Huye: fish brochette and chips as they call it here. Had been to Huye twice before and with a group so never ate alone. Gave me time to catch up on Mad Men.
My first solo meal in Huye: fish brochette and chips as they call it here. Had been to Huye twice before with a group so never ate alone but there’s a first time for everything. Gave me time to catch up on Mad Men.
My little bungalow. If you're ever in Huye, check out Hotel Ibis. It's nice, clean, quiet and there's a wifi. A nice getaway from busy Kigali.
My little bungalow. If you’re ever in Huye, check out Hotel Ibis. It’s nice, clean, quiet and there’s a nice restaurant to boot. A nice getaway from busy Kigali.
The side view.
The side view.
Hotel Ibis.
Hotel Ibis.
Finally made it across the border to Burundi. If you fail once, try again. Mission accomplished.
Finally made it across the border to Burundi. If you fail once, try again. Mission accomplished.
I love fish and chips and Amstel obviously.  My first and only meal in Bujumbura.
I love fish and chips and Amstel obviously. My first and only meal in Bujumbura.
View from my hotel in Bujumbura. What you don't see is how hot it was, even at 7 in the morning.
View from my hotel in Bujumbura. What you don’t see is how hot it was, even at 7 in the morning.

I woke up to this around 6 am, had no idea what was going on and was too spooked to go back to sleep.
I woke up to this around 6 am, had no idea what was going on and was too spooked to go back to sleep.

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Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika.
I hope to see more of this place the next time around.
Finally made it. I didn't get to see any hippos or crocodiles so I will be trying again.
Finally made it. I didn’t get to see any hippos or crocodiles so I will be trying again.

buja 17 buja 18

One day, I too will pick up fishing as a hobby.
One day, I too will pick up fishing as a hobby.
Back to Rwanda. In conclusion, I've never worked so hard for a passport stamp. Until next time.
Back to Rwanda. In conclusion, I’ve never worked so hard for a passport stamp. Until next time.