“Entering the Sheraton is always surprising because you never know what awaits you.” At least this is what our amazing – not to mention brilliant – professor Lee Gulyas says about her travels through Yemen in her article, Spices, Butter and Earth.
What Gulyas is referring to as “surprising” are the smells, for example, “heavily perfumed and chlorinated cleansers…or maybe the wafting aroma of coffee and cigarettes.”
It could be argued that we are always surprised by aromas awaiting us, whether we are walking into our college apartments or driving to the towns we grew up in after spending months away – though I am never surprised by the sweet smell of cow manure as I enter Enumclaw. Here in Gashora, there is no exception of surprising aromas awaiting us.
In the 30-minute walk from our hotel to Gashora center we smell scents from enticing herbs to rotten eggs to beautiful fresh flower blossoms and a smell I can best compare to the time I helped gut a home, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The broken fridge full of rotten food, which stewed in heat for the past nine months, spilled its contents all over the torn apart ground. Putrid I think is the best word to describe that experience. Luckily, that smell does not last very long and it is not found in many places.
However good or bad the smell is, we are always being surprised by the many aromas of Gashora and not only that, but the love and kindness we have received from everyone in this small village. No matter how many bad scents we have come across during our time here, it seems as though we have found more sweet ones. And no matter how many difficult times we have faced – sickness, being away from home, exhaustion, heat, language barriers – we have all seemed to find more positives then negatives.
With only a few days left here in Gashora, we cannot help but be sad to say goodbye to all of the incredible people we have met. But we – at least I – can say that we are excited to move forward, meet more amazing people, see more parts of the flourishing country of Rwanda and be surprised by more aromas waiting to greet us.