I love this question. But, at the same time, I strongly dislike it.

Why? I never know how to answer it completely.

1st of all, East Africa is diverse, seriously diverse. It is crazy to think but after this trip, I have officially touched down in every country belonging to the East African community. If you would have told 15-year-old me that this would happen before I turned 21… I would have laughed and maybe cried a little because I was told it was impossible.

But, as I’m sitting here in Kigali, Rwanda eating some kind of Bolognese pasta overlooking the Kigali skyline (land of 1000 hills y’all), I can’t help but feel pushed to write the little things I love about this region.

By no means will this list be complete upon its’ publishing, but for now, it will do. So, without further due, here are those little things I love about East Africa:

I love how free people are.

I love how people will stop what they’re doing to have a conversation with one another.

I love how people are always relaxed and laid back.

I love the hospitality.

I love how people aren’t afraid to meet new people.

I love the way people dance so creatively and rhythmically.

I LOVE Afro-beats.

Even though unsafe, I love the arbitrary traffic norms.

I love how they find a way to carry anything on a truck or motorcycle.

Overall, I love the adventure of transportation.

I love how people alongside the road always happen to look your way.

And, I love how whenever you greet someone, they return the gesture.

I love the orchestra of horns, honks, and "hoots" that fill the streets at all times of the day.

I love the roosters’ morning crows and the kickass sunrises and sunsets.

I love the weather… for me, the perfect mixture of hot and cold (for the most part).

I love the vibrancy: from interactions to fabrics and everything in between.

I love how happy people are when they see you trying to learn their language.

I love the importance of greetings whether kisses, handshakes or hugs.

I love how anyone can enter anyone’s home at any time.

I love the smell; sometimes a mixture of nature and burning trash, but somehow it gets me?

I love bargaining… when I get a good deal.

I love people’s national pride and the playful banter that happens when nationals collide.

I love the adventure in the bumpy dirt roads and how I have come to appreciate good roads.

I love the community around food.

I love how you can never eat enough food and people are always waiting to add you more.

I love how being fat is a compliment.

I love how anyone can hand you their child and it's completely acceptable.

I love how children look out for each other.

I love how bold and straight forward people can be.

I love and admire the extremely hard work people do, and they make it look so effortless.

I love the untouched areas of natural beauty.

I love the random messages on the back of taxis.

I love the creative and funny names of stores.

I love how everyone likes a good, impromptu photo shoot.

I love how important it is to respect elders.

I love how people can sit together and talk for hours.

I love how diverse each place is; you could drive an hour and meet a completely new group of people.

For now, this will do. But before I receive this Belgian hot chocolate (*mouth watering already*), it is important to mention that this list is very generalized and comes as a collection of my experiences. At the end of the day, my perspective is one of many but, what I can say is that I love these places because my mind has continued to stay open and eager to learn about what these places have to offer. Like any place in the world, there are bad things and good. My challenge for you is to not let the small bad things distract and interrupt you from seeing all of the good. Challenge your perspective and your norm, you may be surprised.

Traveling is the best teacher and the lessons you learn are so special. I wish everyone could travel to East Africa. Side note: tell me if you're interested and I would love to help you get there! My experiences here have impacted my life more than I will ever know. I always like to say that Africa has seen me at my best and Africa has seen me at my worst. But all together, these little "I love.." statements barely touch the surface on this unexpected, indescribable love/passion I have gained for this region. Amidst the negative discourse surrounding this region, I have continued to become more and more enthralled, praising Jesus for letting me see the little things that make my heart fly!

Thanks, East Africa, you rock my world.


P.S My hot chocolate came and it is HEAVENLY. Thank you, Jesus.