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Matt, Austin and I hopped on a $6 bus out of the city last weekend to Lake Kivu, a giant volcanic lake on the eastern border of Rwanda and the DRC. My plan to peacefully snooze during the ride there was happily interrupted by the beautiful landscapes of small towns and sloping farmlands along the Kigali-Ruhengeri road. The villages we passed through were simple, nestling harmoniously into the surrounding countryside (these people are living on dollars a day, but gosh what a view).

Few vehicles and even fewer roads in this part of the country means there are lots of people traveling on foot along the main road.

Few vehicles and even fewer roads in this part of the country means there are lots of people traveling on foot along the main road.

We arrived in Gisenye, the largest of the three towns on Lake Kivu, and took a gorgeous moto-trip along the lake out to the smaller fishing village of Rubona to enjoy the water in a more intimate setting.

Lunch was at the adorable/honeymooney Paradis Malahide Hotel, the top-rated hotel in Rwanda on TripAdvisor.

Lunch was at the adorable/honeymooney Paradis Malahide Hotel, the top-rated hotel in Rwanda on TripAdvisor. Travel tip: STAY HERE

Fishing pirogues

Fishing pirogues

After a very leisurely stroll around the lake + village, we hiked to the border to cross into Congo (what happens in Congo must stay in Congo). Everything in this area is elevation 8,000 feet or higher, which made strenuous physical activity a bit harder..or more likely I’m just really out of shape.

Lakeside serenity

Lakeside serenity

DRC border

DRC border

All three of us had lugged our SLRs along and were salivating for photo opps, so the next morning we did it Japanese-tourist-style and, for the price of a cab to Logan, commandeered a small private bus to take us the 100km to Rushengiri. This freed us to stop anywhere along the road to shutter away, talk to people, or just linger longer in places that we found particularly lovely.

Our photo-bus

Our photo-bus

Lake Karago...not the most beautiful of lakes..

Lake Karago...is not the most beautiful of lakes..

Seas of lush Rwandan teafields on the way to Ruhengiri

Seas of lush Rwandan teafields on the way to Ruhengiri

Traveling around Rwanda is fairly laid back and non-touristy feeling, probably because there actually aren’t too many tourists. This is definitely nice, but it also means that entire streets stop to stare as we walk by, and  troupes of children are constantly following us around everywhere. Lots of them try to touch my hair and attempt communication in creative french/english phrases (or even /cringe/ asian-y sounding things), sometimes asking for photos, sometimes asking for money.

Austin/Austin's camera being smothered by curious village children

Austin/Austin's camera being smothered by curious village children

Very different from traveling around rural China, where kids seem to be equally fascinated by foreigners but are usually not bold enough to go up to them or say anything in English, even though they study it diligently in school.

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the sunrise from my apartment in kigali

I’m here for the next 6 weeks, teaching a class at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.  We are south of the equator, so it is technically winter — though still 80 degrees and beautiful every day.

You can follow my team’s official blog here, and my non-official thoughts on this blog.. I’m also keeping a written journal (ish). And sketchpad. Is there such a thing as too much reflection?

We stumbled upon this beautiful winery during a family Napa trip. It’s a little bit out of the way, but so stunning. More arty and contemporary than most places in the area, and oh yeah you’re basically on top of the world.

(how wonderful is this red farmhouse?)

In other news, it’s the first day of my last semester as an undergrad.

I participated in MIT’s aditl project (capture a typical day in photographs) yesterday. I thought I might wake up early to get some nice sunrise-over-the-charles shots from my window.

What actually happened was that I woke up 30 minutes late for my 11:30AM class and decided not to go. You can’t get more realistic than that.

A few shots:

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what i see in the morning. bleary eyed, in bed, 5 minutes longer.

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out the door

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kinda gloom

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i run into jason on my way to stata, who kindly provides me with the notes i missed from that morning class

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lunch date with cecily @ sebastians!

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there is so. much. construction. on campus

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chaplin, film class

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grabbing a book from hayden

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delivery

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planning meeting for senior toast

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a lonely berry

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on my way to pm recitation

Sometimes, I really do love it here and never want to leave (this place, or this stage?).

ifc at dusk

No tripod. Which becomes immediately apparent if you zoom in…

Back from Hong Kong–I have a lot of pictures to get through (though, still not as many as I would have liked from this summer).

I’m tired of taking crappy pictures with my little canon powershot, and am ready to make the switch up to a DSLR. I’ve hesitated in going the SLR route in the past because I wasn’t ready to give up the compact form factor and portability of a point and click, but the past few months of browsing wedding photography blogs (don’t ask) and going through my old high school photos have made me realize how much lovelier all of my memories could look. Much to the distress of certain friends, I haven’t posted albums on facebook since August because I’m just sick of the generic-ness and poorly thought out composition of all the pictures.

Cost aside, the main thing preventing me from amazon-priming a DSLR right now is the high amount of time and research such a decision should involve–I really want to know what I’m doing before I decide which camera to buy, which lenses to order, etc. I also really want to have the time to play around and learn how to use it + all the editing software so I can maximize the camera’s features and fully dive into photography as a hobby. I just don’t have that kind of time right now, and the scary thing is that I can’t really anticipate a time in the future when I will have the time.