14 May

When I woke up in the morning, I rode to the neighboring Kibeho Sanctuary. Then I strolled downhill all the way to the valley. Kibeho is a popular pilgrimage site for those who believe in the authenticity of the reported apparitions of Virgin Mary in the 1980s.

While sitting in one of the cabanas, set up near the dispenser of the much-savored Kibeho water, I used my phone to organize a cluster of notes and revisit my budget. With six more districts to visit, I had to keep an eye on my budget tracker and ensure I made the most of the remaining amount.

When I was done polishing my notes and reviewing my budget, I put my phone on silent mode and muted all notifications. The atmosphere in the valley was peaceful, and the tranquility I felt down there was otherworldly. 

Spending time alone, in total serenity, was profoundly enriching. In a world that is constantly buzzing with noise and demands, rare moments of solitude should be embraced. While in the valley, I reclaimed my peace of mind.     

As I listened to the babbling sound of the water channeled from the heart of the Holy Land, I reflected on my unforgettable experiences in the 24 districts I had covered thus far. Part of me didn't want this tour to end. At the same time, I was looking forward to returning home with lasting memories.

On my way back to the hill, I toiled on a very steep gradient. The trail I pursued snakes through lush vegetation and signposts installed to guide pilgrims during the Catholic ritual commonly known as the Way of the Cross. Halfway through the trail, I took a breather and soaked up the beauty of the valley and the surrounding landscape. That was a sight to behold.