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The Nuns That Have It All – Ice Cream, Wine, and Soccer in Murhesa

March 24, 2013

I’ve heard of once-upon-a-time stories of weary pilgrims seeking respite amongst hospitable nuns in peaceful monasteries, out of touch from the turmoil of the secular world…

I had always assumed that this was a thing of the Middle Ages, something that must have petered out sometime around Shakespeare…

But in Congo, an elaborate system of convents and monasteries fill the gaps where there is no Motel 6, welcoming visitors with a bed and a warm plate of fufu.

One such place wins the prize in my book certainly for most industrious, if not for most beautiful as well.

About 45 minutes north of Bukavu, a sisterhood of nuns live in a lovely convent in the village of Murhesa, flanked by three or so monasteries and a seminary school.  The whole saintly compound is set within manicured gardens, along with a basketball court and several large green soccer fields, and surrounded by acres and acres of agricultural fields.

We’ve gone a few times to Murhesa to check out the grounds.  We’ve a couple times joined a group of friends that goes every weekend to play soccer, and gone trail running up and down the valleys behind the monastery.  We may even plan a Hash run there in the near future.

But while the monasteries are certainly very nice, the nuns at the convent really take the cake, in a manner of speaking.

Because they make and sell their own ice cream.  And it’s delicious.

Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, pistachio, chocolate chip… last time they even had vanilla with chunks of pink guava in it.

Though there may be some historical nun-ice cream link that I just don’t know about, I tend to think instead that these ladies are kind of just a group of luxury-loving gourmands.  Ice cream is not the only indulgence in their little shop.

One entire wall of the shop is populated by shelves of their own fruit wines- cherry, pineapple, guava, honey… there’s even one called Amour en cage (Caged Love), which the sister in the shop says is a type of fruit, but I’m not 100% convinced.

The widows of the front counter display an array of colored and scented candles, some shaped like stars, some with pressed flowers decorating the sides.  The fridge in the back of the shop holds yogurt, cheese, and (rumor has it) foie gras.  And if you ask very nicely, they even have a hidden basket of sugar cookies, each one a different heart, star, or flower shape.

It makes me wonder- do these pious sisters indulge in the culinary realm as a way to make up for their life-long temperance in other realms?  Do they just find joy in the thought of providing the tangible ingredients for others’ romantic evenings? (I mean, wine, candles, ice cream… Caged Love?!)

I can’t really say, and I don’t know if the nuns would ever tell.  It’s probably better that way.

(click thumbnails below for photo slideshow)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Aunt Melodee permalink
    March 25, 2013 1:59 am

    Once again, an awesome post, wonderful story and beautiful pictures!

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