I woke up after sunrise and walked out of my room. When I stepped on the balcony, I noticed something was different. A few branches of trees grown outside my block had been chopped off. These branches were obstructing my view before someone slashed them. For the first time in my life, I was guilty of applauding the decision to cut down trees.
I was planning to do push-ups, hit the shower and run to the bus station, but gleams of sunshine on the surface of the lake made me adjust my itinerary a little bit. I added one more activity on my Rusizi to-do-list. As a result, I wasn’t able to catch the 9 a.m. bus as initially planned.
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, but they were undoubtedly enjoying their effortless strokes.
It was my last day in Rusizi, and it seemed like I had unfinished business in the area. Traveling back to Kigali without taking a dip in the lake wasn’t a good idea in the first place.
I walked to the lake through the terrace and a long wooden staircase. Then I threw my t-shirt and dived. It was a leap of faith. Jumping into the lake when you can’t see what hides under its surface is an act of conviction.
Lake Kivu is crocodile and hippo-free. Sharks don’t live in fresh water, and the jellyfish is unheard of in this part of the world. Unlike many other water bodies elsewhere, this lake has no room for our predators.
I free-styled towards 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. I gave up. 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 towards Karambo Peninsula. After all, I didn’t want to risk experiencing a muscle strain far away from the shore. Speaking of muscle strains, maybe next time I should consider wearing a life jacket. There is a reason members of the aforementioned club take precautionary safety measures. For the record, they are better swimmers than you and I combined.
When I walked out of the door in the morning, a few trunks had lost their tallest branches, but I didn’t shed any tears despite my strong devotion to trees. I skipped my usual morning push-up routine, but I did something far more rewarding. I missed the 9 o’clock bus but, as I said earlier, there is always another bus to board. Furthermore, I altered my plans a little bit, but plans can always be amended.