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Nyungwe is a mountainous rain forest in the southwestern corner of Rwanda (that also contains the most distant source of the Nile! fun fact). I tend to get disproportionately excited about anything rain-foresty, so this was… indeed very exciting. Compared to rain forests in Belize, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, Nyungwe feels less tropical, more untouched–roads have only been developed to access it since 2004 or so.

chilly green

chilly green

The elevation shrouds everything in a layer of mist, and the topsy turvy topography means you can see layers of forest floors and canopies at the same time.

The elevation shrouds everything in a layer of mist, and the topsy turvy topography means you can see layers of forest floors and canopies at the same time.

Unfortunately, Nyungwe is also price-gouging at its best. Foreigners pay $40-$50 per TRAIL for the privilege of a basic jungly stroll, and $90-$100 to potentially encounter creatures of the monkey/chimpanzee variety. To enforce this, it is forbidden to wander anywhere in the park without a guide, even along the main road.

playing with a 300mm zoom

playing with a 300mm zoom

I understand that tourism contributes pivotally towards Rwanda’s economic development, but it’s depressing that such a primeval natural area has been  ruthlessly zoned, regulated, and closed to personal exploration. (Would it not be better to have visitors pay a larger park entrance fee and give free reign throughout the park?)

monkey tracking...

monkey tracking...

unhabituated colobus monkey

unhabituated colobus monkey

Also–would recommend coming to Nyungwe with a car/driver and lots of snacks. Traffic is very scanty on the road through the forest, and it was a while before we managed to flag down random vehicles to take us back to Kigali.

Went to trapeze school this weekend with some friends (we have a shoutout on their website! haha) .

Like so many things, the hardest part is just taking that first leap.

backflip dismount by a boy who would rather be doing hot yoga

Once in awhile, I think to myself, wouldn’t it be cool to have done something more circus-y with my life? This experience has ensured that I will not think that anymore. (But amateur trapeze is fun, and we signed up for more classes!)

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).

Cirque du Soleil: Kooza is in Boston right now! If you haven’t seen a Cirque show before, I highly recommend it–any one of their shows will be one of the most gorgeous musical and visual performances that you’ll ever experience–I literally switch back and forth between gasping in awe and dying from pure hilarity for the entire 3 hours.

I went with class council tonight to Kooza, and WOW. I’ve seen Alegria in San Francisco and Zumanity in Vegas before so I came in ready to be impressed, but not necessarily expecting anything new. I was blown away–the tone of this production was completely different (Alegria was darker, moodier; Zumanity more..primal, sensual), very whimsical and dream-like. The acts were beautifully choreographed with AMAZING costumes, as always, but again went in a completely different direction from their stuff I’ve seen in the past so that everything was still very surprising and new–especially the crazy wheel of death segment. Steven was sitting next to me, and he was just flat out freaking out during the entire show (along with our whole row, basically)–I’ve never seen him be so animated before, haha.

I think that I can also appreciate something like Cirque in my current state of mind more than I have in the past, because I’m in an environment that is so deprived of emphasis on aesthetics and story and physicality at school. My mind kind of went into overdrive trying to sap it all up, and I couldn’t help (wistfully) thinking  throughout the show how different the lives of these performers are from my own; how exhilarating it must be to be part of and excel at something so special; to travel throughout the world and create a beautiful, sophisticated experience that is capable of reaching an audience’s core sense of fear and awe night after night. That is their lives.

Maybe I’m over-glamorizing, and definitely overlooking the thousands of hours of training and tears it must have taken for their bodies to bend and balance in such fantastical ways. And sure, too many people in this country love art and not enough are studying math and science. Yet.. somehow it just seems kind of lame to snap back into my weekend of 6.041 review after witnessing something so exquisite.

I think the sour look on jason’s face is post-traumatic shock from paying for the $6.50 soda he’s holding…even artful, visionary enterprises are capitalists at heart :).