Beautiful Bigogwe of beautiful people and cows | The new times

It was only 6 p.m., and all we could afford for personal hygiene was to wash our fingertips in order to dip our hands into the hot food that was served to us on flat baskets ( inkoko). Are we going to spend the night? We were wondering !

The cold water was unbearable, as was the weather. Our hands were numb for a few minutes after just three seconds of water. The relief was the scalding pumpkins, corn, beans, and Irish potatoes, among other delicious dishes that were served to us. It felt so good to at least have warm hands, even though the whole body was covered in mist.

In this group of 41 young people, only one took a bath! Everyone was saying “nzoga ejo” (I’ll swim tomorrow) when we were asked if they could warm some water for us. The audacity to even think of water at that moment! Apparently taking baths every day isn’t a thing in this cold place, so there was no shame in not cleaning up even after six hours of hiking.

Cows in the beautiful Bigogwe grazing area in Nyabihu District.

We had started by climbing the famous Iberian mountain rya Bigogwe (Bigogwe’s breast) in Nyabihu district, which most believe is shaped like a woman’s breast. There is also a lone tree on top of this rocky mountain, which is called its nipple.

Although the hike started off very steep, there would never have been a better time to wish you were a bird than when we reached the top! We could see as far as neighboring DR Congo, and the soft green valleys surrounding the mountain were breathtaking.

I’ve hiked steeper mountains, but this one was tougher than all. I don’t know if it was the coffee I had that morning, or the thought that we were supposed to be warned about the long hike.

We walked through the forest towards the Gishwati farms where we were spending the night, and I’m sure part of what made the walk bearable was the laughter. For example, about three hours after we started, a young man said, “These mountains are like love; only ups and downs and you don’t know where it will end.

Another told a lady who had slipped on the muddy grass that “igwire ma, nubundi nta mahembe wavunaga” (you can fall, honey, you weren’t breaking your horns anyway). Or that other famous comedian who asked how many “boobs” we were supposed to walk on since he had counted four so far.

A trip to Bigogwe

We have been warned not to touch a number of wild plants and flowers, including ‘stinging nettle’, traditionally called ‘Igisura’, known to cause a rash and other symptoms if people touch them . But that was only until we got out of the forest where these plants are less visible.

When we started moving from farm to farm, climbing the fences put in place to limit the movement of cows, people would offer us milk at random. They milked their cows in traditional jugs (ibyansi) which we walked to the max with, and they would be surprised and claim that we were slow drinkers.

The famous Iberian mountain rya Bigogwe (Bigogwe’s breast) in Nyabihu district, which most believe is shaped like a woman’s breast.

Part of the reason things were tough was also because we had filled our stomachs with hot raw milk that we couldn’t get enough of. It was tastier, creamier and in abundance.

Although we also couldn’t get enough of the beautiful umucaca grass and clean, healthy cows, we had to rest at one of the farms.

There were beautiful wooden chairs waiting for us, ibyansi full of milk and food.

We also sang and danced to traditional Rwandan songs; Umudamazera, Agasaza and Uraho Runyenyeri, among others. Bagogwe’s ‘Lidiya’ song was also the most danced, among other cultural activities that take place in ‘Igitaramo’.

It was already unbearably cold despite the campfire, but part of what helped us was the piece of Maasai shuka we were given before the hike started. Hot milk for some and alcohol for others also saved us before we were all done.

It was midnight, time to sleep, and our camping tents were already set up, along with our sleeping bags. Some already laughed at the fact that we were then exposed to the infamous animal predator of cows which killed more than 50 on the farms of Gishwati where we spent the night.

But it was less disturbing than the dew on the grass that penetrated through the tent. It got our clothes wet, although we were inside the sleeping bags, which were also wet. Most people decided not to sleep at all because the only bearable place at the time was around the campfire that was lit right after the hike.

Those who stayed in the tent, the bravest, also spent no less than three hours trying to sleep, but without success. I was among them, but only because I had to choose between the smoke of the fire and sleep, which was uncertain.

I had to wear another sweater and sweatpants, but that wasn’t enough. I managed to sleep for about three hours, but still woke up with numb feet and hands, and it was raining. I didn’t want to dwell too much on why I had voluntarily gone camping, but I was ready to wait for the sun to enjoy this beautiful place more. There was more milk to drink, cows to milk, cheese and games to play.

Those who had stayed up all night weren’t just enjoying the warmth of the campfire. They were also grilling corn, which filled half the 50kg bag when we fell asleep. Even the bag wasn’t there at 7am.

Although we had brought other clothes, roll-on, toothbrush and other toiletries, we did not have the chance to use them! Nobody even washed their face. Even the thought of taking off one T-shirt for another was scary. The campfire was lit until 11:00 a.m. when we left.

We had sampled Bigogwe cheese, played games like long jump (gusimbuka urukiramende), learned how to milk cows, and met some lovely people along the way.

Each of us ended up on a bus with dirty, smoky clothes. Some had fallen into cow dung, others had corn in their teeth, but what we had in common was a happy face and a dream of taking a shower once we arrived at our destination.

While Bigogwe has always been beautiful and with a welcoming culture, it is only recently that it would be a tourist spot. It is one of the places where the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was experienced in the early 90s, and most of its Tutsi inhabitants were killed during the genocide.

At the base of Ibere ​​rya Bigogwe rest more than 25,000 Bagogwe Tutsis who were killed during the Genocide and in the Pilot Genocide Project which had been going on since 1990.

Despite the efforts of the killers to annihilate the Bagogwe and their cows, their pastures have become even larger and even more beautiful. Their land proudly stands to become one of the country’s cultural tourist destinations, thanks to 27-year-old Alexis Ngabo Karegeya, who has taken off on Twitter and organizes such trips.

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