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The day I almost swam to Congo

The day I almost swam to Congo

I am spending this weekend in Rusizi District. From the window of my room, at Emeraude Kivu Resort, I can see Bukavu people running their errands. Bukavu is the administrative capital and the commercial hub of DR Congo’s South Kivu Province.

The sight of Bukavu and Kamarari Island have rekindled memories of my previous sojourn at this hotel. On that memorable day, I stood on the balcony and soaked up the view. The plan was to do push-ups, hit the shower and leave. However, gleams of sunshine on the surface of the lake made me add one more activity on my Rusizi to-do-list. The allure of the lake was irresistible.

Members of the local swimming club, wearing their luminous orange life jackets, were preoccupied with their favorite activity. From the distance, they looked like little colorful ducks partially submerged in the water. Swimming while donning floating aid gear looked like cheating to me.

I walked to the lake through the terrace and a long, steep staircase. Then I took off my t-shirt and dived. It was a leap of faith. Jumping into the lake when you can’t see what hides underneath the surface is an act of conviction.

I free-styled toward the group swimming in orange life jackets. A few minutes later, I came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t catch them. There is no way I was going to outpace those superfast swimmers. They were cheating anyway. Real swimmers don’t wear life jackets.

I was approaching Kamarari Island, which happens to be in DR Congo. I had no clue where the boundary line separating Rwanda and the DRC lies. Sensing the possibility of entering another country illegally, I swam back to the hotel.

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