Just after I opened my eyes to greet the last day of our group travels the door to my room opens, Holly walks in and says “We have all missed our flight, we have to go to the airport right away!” Knowing full well that I was staying, the impact felt cushioned a bit from my reality but the reality of the impact on the group was inescapable. The morning became one big whirlwind of suitcases, phone calls, bus rides and tense faces but overall a sense of acceptance, calm and focus. The day was spent at the Turkish Airlines office in downtown Kigali and was followed by a gathering at a local eatery/internet cafe as everyone tried to communicate to their loved ones as well as feed and care for themselves. The strength of our group was really apparent throughout this entire day as there were no “Freak outs”, no blaming each other, no anger projected onto each other, just a focus on doing what needed to be done in order to get everyone home. It was clear that we have all had our fair share of experience with traveling and know that nothing really ever goes as planned, there has to be room for changes and mistakes.
So we missed out on seeing three of the co-operatives that we had planned to see while here on this very, well planned and organized trip. I guess someone just got too excited and booked one extra day of events and no one noticed that we were scheduled to leave at 00:55AM on the 28th, which is actually the morning of the 27th of June!
As the members of our group booked last minute flights home with some pretty pricey fees attached, I got to witness the total surrender to the reality of the situation. I was inspired by the ease of which people were able to let go of the financial cost of the mistake and move into acceptance that this was happening for a reason. Some were calculating the cost in terms of cows and goats for the co-operatives here in Rwanda and there certainly were better ways for that money to be spent but I do trust that there was a reason behind why they were not all on those planes the night before. The reason may never become obvious to any of us but my faith in something greater leads me to feel this to be true. As each person decided how much they were willing to spent to get themselves back to their reality in California, I was pleasantly surprised by the ability of the group to settle into the reality of their present moment and make the best of it.
We ended our time together as a group by going around our table saying a few words about how we felt and what we were taking with us from this trip. Everyone, including our fabulous Rwandan bus driver, Bosco, opened their heart and spoke of the positive impact we all had on each others lives. It was so nice to hear the kind words for me on my journey and I felt so supported in that moment, words that give me strength to continue living my life the way I have chosen to and know is right for me. It is always nice to hear that people support our choices and it brings me strength to know I have this entire group, plus friends at home doing just that. It takes an open heart and an open mind to allow others to travel their own journey and I am grateful to everyone in my life who is strong enough in themselves to support me in mine. I had an “Eat, Pray, Love” moment at the end of my speech , as I toasted this new group of people who have now become like family which for me is another sign that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
Waving goodbye to about half of the group as they drove away on the bus was an emotional event but the half that remained continued in the spirit of making the best of the situation by walking next door to our Muzungo hot spot “SolaLuna” for pizza and beer! As I said my goodbyes for the night to the remaining group members and prepared for my first night in my new home with Justin and his family I was very grateful for the last moments of our time as a full group and feel that the events that happened earlier in the day only made the goodbye more powerful. I am learning that the relationships that last are the ones that can ride the waves together and meet peacefully on the shore, ready for the next thing to pull them back out into the waters of life. Thank you to all the people (even those not in the photos below, you know who you are!) who are willing to ride with me on this journey!