Day 29: Kolo ancient rock paintings

This morning we had breakfast at 7 a.m., then piled into another four by four. Joas’s eighth son, Dr. Christian, was our driver for the day. He told us that he hadn’t taken a tour group to the paintings in a couple of years, since he’d been busy working at the local hospital.

We drove out of town for what Joas had said would be ten kilometres, but felt much further. Then the road came to an end and we began to drive down a bone-rattling, car-frame shaking, tire-puncturing dirt road. When we stopped, a couple hours later, in the town of Kolo, our ears were ringing.

In Kolo, we registered to go see the rock paintings, which are government property, and picked up a government guide. Then we turned out of the village and onto yet another road, this one even rockier than the last. In the absence of seatbelts, we gripped the bottoms of our seats.

Eventually we pulled to a stop at the end of the road and took a short walk uphill to the rock painting sites, Kolo B1, B2, and B3. Each of the sites consist of large rocks overhanging patches of dirt that used to house our human ancestors, some ten thousand years ago.

The paintings show giraffes, elephants, leopards, and people, all drawn in red ochre. Some have faded with time, but others are amazingly vibrant considering the fact that they’ve been around twice as long as the pyramids.

It was an almost spiritual experience, peering at the artwork and trying to imagine our earliest ancestors living under those rocks.

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We had a picnic lunch at the bottom of the hill, agreeing that the paintings had been the perfect way to end our days of touring. Tomorrow we travel back to Dar, then we’re flying to Kigali the day after tomorrow, and then on to Canada.

I feel tired in that quiet, satisfied way. I’m so grateful that I’ve had the chance to see these amazing places, and I feel as though I’ve seen everything I set out to see this trip. But I’m also feeling grateful for the fact that I’m headed home soon.

It’ll be a slow journey back, with pit stops in now-familiar cities, but I’m happy that’s the direction in which we’re moving.

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