Burundi camping adventure


Basically if you’ve ever watched Long Way Down or Long Way Around with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman…you have some idea of what we were doing. Except instead of 2 guys on bikes plus two support vehicles, we were two dads, plus a mom and a kid on two bikes, and one Land Cruiser with the other 10 people – for a total of 8 kids between 1-14.  So basically… the exact same thing.IMG_3520

Caleb saying – “I’m not sure this will hold you”




so we just move a few planks
…and we’re good to go

Once we got to where we (thought) we were going – we found a pretty amazing place to set up our camp. Kind of had our pick of the place.

DSC03437Pretty hard to imagine finding a much better place than this to camp.  Out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the lush green countryside of Burundi.

Also just about 100m away is a thermal hot spring, with some really hot water.  Actually there were two – one is for women and one for men.  Except on Wednesdays & Saturdays, then they’re both for men. And we were there on a Saturday.  But we had someone say basically “no that’s fine…you’re visitors…your women can come in”  Yeah..don’t think that’s going to happen when there are about 40 dudes in the pool – and when us guys get in we have every set of eyes staring at us intensely and constantly.   But the guys had a nice cleansing & relaxing soak before bed.  And the women actually got a chance in the smaller one when a bunch of the guys cleared out.


The next morning we took a hike to find some waterfalls that we had been told about – and they did not disappoint.

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The water was FREEZING – but we spent pretty much the whole morning swimming, cliff jumping, making dams in the streams and just enjoying this beautiful place.

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Someone was pretty excited for her first PIkki ride. And she managed to hold on for the whole hour and half back home. I kid. But she did like riding around the campsite a bit.

our first Christmas in Burundi

So, we thought this would be our first Christmas in Bujumbura – and we even decorated the house with borrowed decorations and a gifted/left-over artificial tree. However the increasing violence – especially when it flared up on Dec 11 and the fighting lasted for 14 hours or so – our security team asked us to leave the city ASAP. So while it was our first Christmas in Burundi – we did not spend it at home in Bujumbura like we had anticipated.

We left Buj and travelled up to Kibuye to spend a few weeks with our sister team that serves at the Kibuye Hope Hospital.  We were incredibly blessed in being able spend time with that team, and also to have a great house to move into as there were some team members back in the US.

So we got to decorate again – this time on a tree a bit taller than the one we had – and spend the weeks leading up to Christmas with the Kibuye team, and all of the family who was visiting.

Yes, I am standing on a folding chair…

This also meant the kids got to take part in some pre-Christmas activities like gingerbread house making (and eating)

Quite a house-full – for Christmas Eve dinner.

On Christmas day we went up to the hospital with Alyssa (paediatrician) and her parents (who were visiting from the States for the holiday) and were able to help hand out some toys and candy to the kids who were there. DSC03354 DSC03339 DSC03321 DSC03318 DSC03281 DSC03262

During the Christmas break – a whole van full of us took a trip to see the southernmost source of the Nile, which just happens to be about 45min from Kibuye.

I think the problem was that for – especially the kids – when they heard ‘source of the Nile’ they pictured the great Nile river, vast, wide, snaking its way north into the Mediterranean. However, the source…is actually pretty small…as the source would be. And not only is it a small spring, but it has been essentially tapped and made into a small pipe that runs into a ceramic tile pool.  So it kind of seems more like a 1960’s public splash-pool instead of the origin of the great Nile river. I think if you look REALLY REALLY closely you might note a bit of the disappointment on at least one of the kids faces below.


The hills of this part of Burundi are beautiful, and from the top of the hill by the pyramid you could see in every direction.

Something about how the Nile ends in Egypt, so the German explorer who found the source wanted to build a pyramid…?

However, if there was any lingering disappointment with any children who shall remain nameless (there was)  the trip was more than redeemed by driving a few km further down a bumpy, windy, dirt road right up until where it ended, which was right next to some hot-springs.


It was pretty amazing – and relaxing, and so beautiful.

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This trip also meant that we were in Kibuye for Jonah’s 14th birthday.


So yes – now we have a 14 year old. Which I think makes us sound a lot older than we think we are.

Back in Buj

NOTE: This is a blog post from back in October or so..that never got posted....enjoy.


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So we haven’t really said much of what we’ve been up to in the past number of weeks since we arrived back in Bujumbura.  In some ways that’s probably because it seems like we haven’t done a whole lot that’s noteworthy. The situation remains tense, and politically unstable – which means that we (along with most everyone) have somewhat restricted what we do, when we go places, and even what parts of town we visit. So mostly we’re at home, I teach at HAU, susan teaches the kids, we go to church on Sundays and often out for lunch after that.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

However – there have been some great breaks, distractions, and events that have provided a much appreciated respite from the tension of life here in the capital.

The “Zoo”

We went to the local Zoo- no I think that definitely needs the quotes…the “zoo”

DSC02968 The kids did not buy a bunny to throw into the crocodile cage to watch them feed like our guide kept asking…but they did play a game of ‘grab-away-the-water-bottle’ with a chimp…so that was nice.


And also …held snakes.



We had a trip planned to Rwanda where I was helping out at the University there – and taking part in their graduation ceremony. It also turned out to be a weekend that most were anticipating to be very violent, and most other people we knew tried to make plans to get out of the city. So it was a win-win. Plus it’s so beautiful there that it’s nice to have an excuse to go back every so often.





Shortly after we arrived back at home it was birthday time again…Alma turning 4.  With this birthday here that means our little girl has had one birthday in Bujumbura, one in Edmonton, and two in France. Not sure if I would have left Saskatchewan by my fourth birthday.

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Well – it seems that we are now animal people. Considering the extent of our experience in this department has been two very short-lived stints with a single small fish in a bowl – we are really charting new territory.

We came back from Rwanda with Camo the Chameleon.  Who promptly gave birth to 7 babies – 5 of which survived – 0 of which survived the week.

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Said Chameleon went AWOL in the house when we were gone this weekend. We thought we found evidence of his demise – but it was just a dead gecko behind the shoe cupboard  – stay tuned.

At one point Susan was asked the question “why don’t you have chickens?”  Can’t say that has ever been posed to us before. So we promptly rectified that situation and now have 4 lovely chickens who provide us with eggs.  They all look the same – so they were subsequently given individualized rainbow-loom anklets so that they can be told apart.  Some of them have really slowed down the egg production as of late – which may have resulted in the threats of chicken dinner soon.


Sparkles (maybe Sprinkles?).

At the fish store, the man who owns it asked us if we wanted a kitten. Not the gift-with-purchase that we’re used to…but when in Rome.

I got the cat handed to me in a cardboard box – and right form when we got him home – it was pointed out that he looked a bit sick – infected eye.  Basically he went downhill quickly. The kids all showed incredible compassion – trying to nurse him back to health, feeding him from an eye-dropper.  Despite their best efforts – he only lasted about 5 days.

Farewell Sparkles (Sprinkes? no…wait..Scooter????) we (obviously) hardly knew ye.

On top of this our dog and cat which came with the house are still here. The cat is actually completely thriving -and has TWO EYES which open (never seen him like that since we arrived) and no longer has the physique of a greyhound dog – tapering off to almost nothing at his hips.

There is a really cool looking lizard with a bright blue head that always evades capture when he appears on walls or fences –  perhaps he will join us permanently at some point.