Day 10: Friday, May 31st

Friday was one of the most anticipated days of the week as we were embarking on a Safari!!! The word of the day was fittingly “Adventure.”

We awoke before the crack of dawn for a meditation session. As the first rays of the new day streaked across the sky we piled into the 4 Jurassic Park style jeeps that were taking us to Akagera Park 3 hours away. Most of us were exhausted from lack of sleep so it felt like a short trip. After we arrived at the front office and filled out some paperwork we started compiling a list of hopeful animal sightings. The top animal was definitely an elephant followed closely by giraffes and zebras. Hippos were on the list but we were told not to get our hopes up. We figured baboons and gazelles/impalas were inevitable.

After about half an hour of driving through the park we arrived at a lake front for a quick breakfast. As everyone pulled out their cameras to capture the gorgeous lake view a hippo popped up from under the water and let out a loud grunt. We all freaked out and even our guide was surprised we saw a hippo. We spent the next couple of hours scoping the pathway for animals and fighting off horseflies. Horseflies were especially pesky since they bit through our clothes. Fortunately we saw numerous animals including gazelles, impalas, water bucks, baboons, cranes, warthogs, water buffalo, and even zebras. We came into a vast field that stretched for miles upon miles and stopped for lunch. They were giraffes EVERYWHERE. We chowed down on peanut butter sandwiches and pringles. We continued through the fields and spotted similar animals. Eventually we hit the end of the safari and although we never saw an elephant we saw everything else under the sun.

After we returned to the village we prepared for our group performance during Village Time. Village Time is weekly meeting where the entire ASYV meets at the amphitheater for skits, songs, dances, etc. We had a 3 part performance encompassing 2 people singing ‘Just the Way You Are’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and we all danced to Kei$ha’s ‘Die Young.’ The crowd loved it but to be humble it probably didn’t hold a candle to some of the other performances like the traditional Rwandan troupe and the traditional Rwandan Drum group. At about 8PM we went to the dining hall as a whole village and ate a typical dinner of rice, beans, and bananas. It was a long day so after dinner I crashed hard.

Mark Tyson

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