IN THE FIRST PLACE
Lessons In Perseverance
Ihad long given up hope that I would ever get to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Daily permits to see them are scarce and much sought-after and, as far back as half a year ago, I was informed that permits for my Rwanda travel dates had all been sold out.
Just like that, a travel wish vanished. Seeing the gorillas had long been on my mind, since some friends came back from the experience years ago and carried home with them such magical memories. But it was not going to be for me; I could just see the replay of my disappointment from my trip to Iceland, where I had waited night after night to see the Northern Lights, but they never appeared.
I was not going to change my mind about visiting Rwanda this year either. It has been exactly 20 years since the Rwandan Genocide and it was the perfect time to visit a country that has walked away from its violent past to become one of the safest and cleanest countries on the African continent.
In the end, maybe it was perseverance on my part or pure luck, but during a chat with a friend working at the Kempinski, I found out that the hotel group had just acquired the Hotel des Mille Collines, made famous by the film Hotel Rwanda. After a few twists and turns — I shall spare you the details — hotel manager Christoph Strahm wrote to inform me that he had helped me obtain not one, but two passes through a local travel agent. So as news of the Ebola outbreak emerged from Africa, it was with a sense of great fortune mixed with trepidation that I arrived in Rwanda.
The mountain gorilla, Rwanda’s national treasure, has had a fate as tumultuous as the country’s history. Twenty years ago, Rwanda’s mountain gorilla population had dwindled to just 500, even as a million people lost their lives in 100 days to the wave of manic bloodshed which swept through the nation. It is said that it will take Rwandans at least three generations to fully liberate themselves from the dark shadow of the massacre.
Fortunately, things have been looking up since then, for the country, as well as for the gorilla population, thanks in no small part to the people’s never-say-die attitude. Under strict antipoaching regulations set by the government, the number of mountain gorillas has doubled to nearly 1,000. At the Volcanoes National Park, I caught the rare sight of a mountain gorilla holding her four-day-old baby. It was an omen to me that Rwanda, too, is facing a period of rebirth.
It is my privilege to be able to share with you my observations of the inimitable spirit of the Rwandans and the mountain gorillas in this edition of ZbBz. From their struggles and victories, may we see humanity with greater clarity, experience life in all its fullness and learn what it truly means to grit our teeth and persevere, no matter what challenges life may throw at us. 原本已放弃到卢旺达看山地大猩猩的念头，因为早在半年前就获知坏消息——我所要的观猩日期，登山准证已售罄。当时我真是伤心，那是盼望很久后却失望的一种落空，就像去年我在冰岛夜夜守候，却始终看不到北极光的空荡心情一样。