Today's feature is with Nathalie, an advocate for African culture, a loving mother of two, and the influencer behind the popular blog, Joli Tropisme. Natalie has been living in Kigali since 2014 and is a wonderful source of knowledge about parenting and family life in Kigali! Her blog, Joli Tropisme, focuses on African travel and lifestyle.
Tell us you a little about yourself and your family. You mentioned that you’re a returnee to Kigali. Where did you grow up?
My name is Nathalie, I am 34 years old. I am married and I have two girls, Adele who is 6 and Pénélope who is 2. I live in Kigali since December 2014, and with my husband we have founded Poivre Noir , a restaurant with Belgian-French cuisine located in Kimihurura.
My grand-parents were Rwandan, but they lived in Kivu ( RDC) where my mother was born. It is in Kivu, that my mother met my Belgian father, then they were to Burundi, where I was born in 1984. In 1986 my father was sent for his work in Cameroon where i grew up until 95. After we went back in Belgium. I always told my parents that i will go back somewhere in Africa someday. It took me almost 20 years before doing it :-)
You have traveled extensively throughout the world. What makes Rwanda different for you? What makes Rwanda home?
Extensively, I don’t know but a lot yes. Rwanda is the country of my grand-parents and even if they were refugees in the 50’s in Congo, Rwanda was still home for them, I always knew that Rwanda was the country of my mother’s family. When I visited for the first time Rwanda, it was very moving. I felt very emotional, like if i was reconnecting some dots in my history. I was feeling comfortable with everybody, it was like I knew all the social codes. And of course, the beauty of the country finished to convince me that we will be at home here. I also was very proud to come back and feel so safe, after the past that we all know, be part of the rapid development of this country and raising my bi-cultural kids here!
What advice do you have for a families that are new to Kigali?
Take the time to explore the city by yourself, try to ask for help from Rwandans (at your work or neighbors) when you need some information : the best advices you will have will be from locals . Focus on the positive and try to not be bothered by the difficulties you can face when you are an expat. It takes some time to feel good in a new environment . If you can learn some words of Kinyarwanda it will also help you a lot, Inzora offers great evening classes . You can also check some useful website like "Living in Kigali" or "Kigali Moms and Dads."
What have you learned through your experiences as a working mother? What advice do you have for the new mothers preparing to go back to work?
Be indulgent with yourself. Find a way to have some “me time”. Working full time, and being a mother full time is exhausting, you need to reset sometimes. Book one evening by week just for you and go out with friends , take the time to go to a spa, take some yoga or dance classes… Ask help also, don’t be ashamed to tell a friend that you are overwhelmed if you are. You need to feel good to be efficient at work and at home and you are not alone. We are all in the same boat.
Traveling is often slightly chaotic. Add in traveling with children and it can get even more hectic. Do you have any tips on how to travel as a family?
Avoid too many connections flights if possible. It is sometimes cheaper but with kids it is also more stress . Keep them busy with stickers, coloring books, games. I also let them run, walk, dance in the airport like this in the plane they are more tired and stay more quiet :) . If we travel in car, we try to do maximum 3h drive and a break after 1H30. We play games like “Who will be the first to spot a red car or a blue bicycle or a green house” and if we are lucky they fall asleep quickly !
Your blog features a lot of delicious and stunning food pictures from around the world. What are some of your and your family’s favorite restaurants in Kigali?
With the kids we love Koko Club ( we use the place as our sunday brunch spot!) food is delicious and the place is so kids friendly. We also like Casa Keza, the tapas and the paella are great. The atmosphere is lovely. For pizzas, of course it is Soleluna , the best pizzas in town and the owners are so nice! We also go regularly to Habesha for ethiopian food, Inka for the amazing tomahawk piece, and Repub where everything is delicious and the place is wonderful. I recently tried Borneo café. They make Indonesian food and I totally love it. In fact, we really love to eat out and we have each time more options. Restaurants are booming in Kigali and this is great !
All of the recipes on your Instagram account look amazing! What is your go to dinner recipe after a long day of work?
Quiche! It is a french salted pie. The base is always the same : whisk 2 eggs, 25cl of fresh cream, salt , pepper and some grated cheese. Then you can add what you want. My favorite is leeks (4 big leeks that i cut and wash , then you put them 5 minutes in a pan with some butter or olive oil) and ham or bacon. You put the puff pastry in the pie dish, then the sautéed leeks and the ham or bacon, and you add the eggs/cream mixture. In the oven for +/- 15 minutes at 180° . You serve with a salad! It takes maximum 30 minutes .
We love that you take advantage of staycations in Kigali. What are some of your other recommendations for affordable activities for families while on a staycation in Kigali?
There is some fun activities to do with kids at Mount Kigali like a zipline or just spending some time to watch the horses . The playground at Mamba club or Koko club. The swimming pool at pili pili , very nice for kids and parents can have a drink and good pizzas during the time kids play! Azizi life has now a studio where you can paint some Imigongo, not tried yet but seem a good place to keep kids busy! (find more playground options here or swimming pools here)