A Burundi winter experience

Lyon by Night – Part II   – OK so this is really Part 2 of Friday 9 December, 2016.  There really was too much to include in one post…so I’ve split it over 2 parts.

We had just returned from a day tour “par excellence” with H&M and we were preparing to to see Lyon by night and the Fetes des Lumieres.

Here’s some photo’s and a little clip of the highlights from this spectacular light show to give you an idea what it’s all about.

By our standards, the crowds were huge – probably 1 million people over the 3 nights of the Fetes.  But H&M thought the numbers were a little down on 2014.  In 2015, the festival was cancelled due to the bombings in Paris.  Certainly the security for this event was intense.  Previously the light shows were spread throughout the city & suburbs.  This year they were condensed into the city centre.   No vehicles were allowed to be left parked in this area, the underground rail was shut down and everyone needed to commute between the installations by foot.  The crowd, of course, was perfectly behaved.  It was all about families marvelling at the amazing sound and light shows being displayed on public buildings all around the city.

Now…on to our “Burundi Winter Experience.”  The story of Lionel, H&M’s boarder from Burundi.


Lionel deserves a whole chapter to himself!   A delightful young man of 20, who is adjusting to a new life in France after winning a scholarship to study here.  A very bright young man, he is also a linguist. In addition to his own native language, Lionel speaks, Rwandian, French & English fluently.   Such is his mastery of the English language, he easily understands our Antipodean sense of humour….maybe Burundi people like the same jokes?…. or as Graeme is quick to point out…. maybe he is just being polite?

What a wonderful opportunity H&M are giving Lionel by including him in their family. There’s no doubt he is appreciating every single minute and grasping every opportunity with both hands!   I won’t go into detail, but if you care to learn a little more about the troubled times in Burundi at the moment and you have some understanding of the Rwanadan situation you will understand that as a Tutsi, Lionel and his family have an uncertain future in Hutu controlled Burundi. Lionel doesn’t even have a passport as Tutsi’s are not recognised by the Hutu government.  He has refugee papers which allow him to travel to France, but he cannot use them to get back into Burundi.   A more precarious existence is hard to imagine for us.    The best news for Lionel is that he now has H&M helping him.

Well almost good news…. H&M are housing, feeding and giving Lionel good advice for living…except how to dress for cold weather!!!     When you have lived all your life in Burundi, where the coldest temperature you’ve ever experienced is 18°C, adjusting to snow and freezing winter weather is a challenge.    Lionel was recently surprised that “flip flops” weren’t the best choice for footwear in the snow when he visited the Teste mountain house in November.

And this evening, Lionel was just wearing a light cotton top, scarf & hat with a quilted jacket over the top.  In contrast, Graeme & I had on our snow boots, long underwear, about 5 layers of tops including puffa jackets and hats and we were still cold.  It was a damp 3°C with a light breeze.   It was absolutely freezing.    I spoke to Lionel before we went out – “You are going to die of cold out there, Lionel…you need more clothing”.   He insisted that he would be fine.  But sure enough about an hour into the display I swear he was turning blue with cold.    Even we were feeling the chill and didn’t stay long into the evening to see all the shows.   I thought we were going to lose our little African to hypothermia on the way home, but fortunately, H&M live at the top of the hill above the city centre and the climb got the blood circulating again.  Poor Lionel has a nasty cough which seems to be getting worse…especially after last night.   I’m not sure how he’s going to get on in February when the temperatures get even colder.


Tomorrow, we are touring more of Lyon’s gastronomic delights and getting the ingredients for tomorrow’s family Sunday lunch.   Hubert is the chef.    Marie has a meeting in Paris and will be taking the TGV (fast train) and then returning in the evening to join us at a local restaurant for dinner.    Cammi has school & then playing volleyball in the afternoon.  Diane & Leonard are studying.   It’s all go in the Teste household.





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