IN THE FIRST PLACE

Lessons In Per­se­ver­ance

ZbBZ (Singapore) - - 本期精华 IN THIS ISSUE -

绝不放弃

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。

看山地大猩猩是我去年在非洲听其他旅人说起时萌生的念头,我告诉自己一定要趁今年是卢旺达大屠杀20周年纪念,去看看这个一度被血染,但今天被誉为全非洲最干净、安全和最有斗志心的国家。

或许是潜意识的一种坚持,又或许是机缘巧合,在一次与凯宾斯基酒店管理集团闲聊时,得知因电影《卢旺达饭店》出名的米科林酒店即将成为集团的旗下酒店。几番周折,酒店经理Christoph Strah­m居然通过当地一家旅游公司帮我申请到不止一天,而是两天的登山准证。于是,我终于在伊波拉疫情阴影的笼罩下,带着既忐忑又兴奋的心情来到这个千山之国。

卢旺达的国宝山地大猩猩和这个国家的命运一样坎坷,都经历过一场血腥残酷的洗礼。20年前,卢旺达的大猩猩数量不到500只,卢旺达也在百天内丧失了100万条人命,人与猩都历经沧桑。尽管卢旺达需要至少三代人的时间才能从这场浩劫中痊愈,但他们不向命运低头,对生命绝不放弃的态度,在基加利大街上我所接触到的眼神中都看得到。

值得庆幸的是,在卢旺达严厉杜绝偷猎的措施下,大猩猩的数目已增至近1000只。我在火山国家公园观猩时,难得看见母猩紧抱出世仅四天的幼猩的画面,仿佛喻示着山地大猩猩也和卢旺达一样,正在重生。

能够将卢旺达人民和山地大猩猩这种对生活和生命永不说“不”的坚毅,通过文字和图片与读者分享,是我的福分。但愿你我从此能对人性看得更透彻,更珍惜生命中的每一天,面对生活中任何荆棘都能咬紧牙关闯过去,绝不轻言放弃。

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