Probably my favorite person this trip was someone I didn’t expect to meet:
Jean-Baptiste, a dance teacher who lives in a small village just outside
Volcanoes National Park.
Now, when I say “small,” I mean SMALL. There were probably 8 or so
grass-and-mud huts tucked in the back of a long, muddy path. Children ran
past leading goats–some stopping to stare at the Asian-American with her
microphone and bulky laptop bag. We arrived at a small home and
Jean-Baptiste, big smile and bright blue button-down shirt, emerged to
greet us. He seemed to be naturally smiling all the time, and as his friend
later told me, “he is very cultural, and always performs at every wedding.
Even when the wine is out, you can count on him to carry the dancing on.”
The children buzzed around him like honeybees, and soon we were swarmed by
all ages and sizes–tiny hands reached out to touch me, and tiny heads
peeped inquisitively at my blinking radio recorder.
I was there to ask them about the radio soap operas that are so popular in
villages, and afterwards, still smiling, Jean-Baptiste asked if the
children could dance for me.
(I glanced at my fixer