Gatagara Pottery Works | Traveling Rwanda

Gatagara Pottery WorksThis past Saturday, I spent the day journeying to Gatagara, about 1 1/2 hours outside of Kigali, to visit a pottery shop. But the destination was only part of the experience. As I sat in the car watching out the window at the rice and papyrus fields and coffee plantations, I got to know three other people from the Embassy that I had not yet had the privilege to talk to. We passed the time by discussing the differences of living in Rwanda compared to the US or other parts of Africa and the world. We talked about cultural norms across the country and the region, some new to me and some unspoken, rooted in traditions and legends from decades past. Gatagara 4Being new to Rwanda and having not spent too much time outside of Kigali, I soaked in their stories of other parts of Rwanda, including gorilla trekking, as well as bordering countries planning what would be the next trip my husband and I would take. Given Rwanda’s small size, day and weekend trips are easy and a must to get away from the capital and get a true picture of the entire country and it’s vast bounty of natural resources and welcoming people. From volcanoes to lakes, safaris to rafting, and gorillas to elephants, Rwanda has much to offer for adventure! But for that day, I took advantage of the company and the landscape on our journey.

The land of a thousand hills offered ever-changing views of Rwanda’s beautiful landscape, especially on our return leg with the setting sun highlighting the banana trees and making the irrigation trenches in the valleys glisten as they hydrated each plot hopeful of a fruitful harvest. Gatagara Pottery Works 3Upon arriving at Poterie de Gatagara, we were immediately greeted and given a tour of the pottery shop from the kiln to the drying room and even a demonstration from a sweet man, Jean Pierre. As he explained in French, I realized how far I have to go with my French classes {only having about 16 hours of class so far} but his enthusiasm was infectious as we watched him turn a mound of clay into a perfectly symmetrical vase. I was thankful to get a translated version from a member of our group, also versed in pottery.

On our departure, we received a very sweet goodbye wave from a local girl and many high-fives from other children and a blessing from a priest at the adjacent school for disabled children. I hope to bring my husband back in the coming months to share this same experience with and to converse with this priest and hear his stories of the country and its people since arriving in the 1960s. Bonjour - Gatagara