Hospitality comes in many forms. In January we had the pleasure of traveling to a new African country: Rwanda. It is a tiny place in east Africa not far from Lake Victoria. While we remembered the horrific genocide there in 1994, things appear orderly and peaceful today. We paid our respects to that sad and tragic event by visiting several memorials.
We also enjoyed the beautiful countryside (Rwanda is called “the land of a 1000 hills”) – as we drove to Volcanoes National Park for our trek to see the Mountain Gorillas in the northwest part of the country. When we arrived at our lodge, we were served a cup of hot tea/chai while we checked in and were given information about the safari the next day.
It was a grueling 2-hour climb up the mountainside to find our family group of gorillas. But when we did, it was worth it. To be that close to large wild animals was a rush. The guide and the trackers had taught us soothing sounds to make and educated us about movements not to make. But in the end, the gorillas -big silverback daddies, ‘teen-agers’, mamas and babies – ignored us and went about their munching and playful antics, as we observed and shot as many photos as possible during our one hour of observation.
Upon our return to the lodge, we were welcomed by the employees who immediately told us to sit on the bench on the veranda, where they took off our shoes, stripped off our socks, and began to soak and rub our aching feet after hours of trekking. What a welcome service they provided. It was such an exquisite pleasure to be cared for it that way. I was so profuse with my thanks at the joy of the massage, that Marc accused me of getting a longer foot massage than either he or our daughter, Vanessa. Next they gave us slippers to take to our rooms, while they whisked away our shoes and socks to be cleaned and washed. That was just the kind of welcome back we needed after hours in the heat and exertion of a steep climb to see the gorillas.
That was hospitality I won’t forget.