Do you know anyone from Bujumbura, Burundi? Sounds exotic, right? Well, how about curious, witty, kind, opinionated…and all about adventure? Wait, am I still talking about Bujumbura or the best export they’ve ever exported? I may be talking about Nellie Umutesi-Vigneron. I may be comparing Africa with this woman. She’s generous, she’s bold, and she’s beautiful. Read on to discover more about this extraordinary woman…
What do you love to do? So many things I love to do… My top three would be spending time with family, read, a good glass of Pinot Noir, hike and camp (ooops that’s 4). I do it as often as time permits. Most of my family lives in Rwanda and Burundi, so I make time to visit home every couple of years. I read quite often, I average 2 books a month. I hike year round and camp whenever the weather permits. I make time to do the things that I love, they help me stay active, feel alive and replenish my soul!
What can you do today that you could not do a year ago? I can travel solo in a country that does not speak my language. I am fluent in both English and French and would always pick countries whose official language were either. Last year, I embarked on my first solo trip to Cuba and Costa Rica and to my surprise was able to communicate with my limited Spanish or used a lot of hand gestures.
Do you like your job? I love my job and the people I work with. More importantly I love the fact that with my job I am able to afford a pretty decent life for my son and myself as well as fund my adventures and passions. I have always looked at work or a career as a leverage to do the things that I want to do.
What would you regret not doing? Not sharing my love for adventure and the outdoors with other girls and women. Adventure has done so much for me in terms of self-esteem and having a positive outlook on life. It is not simply doing something new, it is more setting aside my fears and knowing that I can do anything I put my mind to. I want that same feeling for everyone. Last year, I made it a goal to share this with other women and girls and organized my first mother/daughter yoga event. For everyone who attended, it was something new, a time for mothers and daughters to bond and a start of them thinking of other things they would want to experience. It was a total success! Not going through this event (cause I was so scared it would be a complete flop), not sharing my passion will be one of my greatest regrets… and I won’t let that happen!
Note: I will always be referring to this paragraph as inspiration to not let my fears define my walls. Thank you, Nellie. TCW
When was the last time you traveled somewhere new? My latest new destination was Costa Rica and I fell in love with the people, the country, the food. It is an adventure paradise for an adventurous chica like myself. I first stayed in the rural part of the country. Stayed with a Costa Rican family, cooked and shared meals with them, volunteered at the local elementary school. Then I moved to another city, Samara, closer to the beach, where my days were filled with surf lessons, ziplining, horseback riding, sun bathing. I love Costa Rica because you get it all. If you love adventure or if you like to just lay on the beach sipping a mojito, there is something for everyone!
Have you done anything lately worth remembering? In December 2016, I went Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda. It was EPIC. I still look over the pictures and cannot BELIEVE IT! It was a hard trek but it was oh so worth it and being really close to silver back gorillas is freakishly scary and humbling!
What does success mean to you? First it means being a good mother to my son, exposing him to different cultures and adventures, giving him the BEST opportunities in this world. Success also for me is not to be constantly on a high, always happy, but also learning to manage and cope with the difficult times (because they will come). Success for me is always trying, maybe not always succeeding, but damn sure try my hardest!
What are you doing to pursue your dreams right now? I dream of visiting every country on the African Continent so I make it a point to visit on new African country per year (if budget allows). Finally, I created with the help of a friend, Adventurous Chica. We are essentially sharing stories of others; Adventurous girls and women. We also give 3 scholarships per year to deserving young ladies who want to attend an outdoor/adventure camp. Finally I have 4 events per year where I take women and girls kayaking, camping, hiking and some yoga!
What are you most scared of? Death scares me, but not just death, but also dying without having realized my dreams.
What are you most proud of? Being a mother to my son is what I am most proud. I take motherhood very seriously and want to give him all of the opportunities in the world to succeed (whatever his own definition of success is).
Where would you like to live? I am happy to call Atlanta my home for now, but definitely see myself living either in Senegal or Rwanda later on in life. Moving does not scare me at all, but I don’t think it is quite time yet.
If you left your current life in order to pursue your dreams, what would you lose? A steady paycheck.
What bad habits do you want to break? I am ashamed to say but I am a smoker. I have been struggling to quit for the last year or so, but I know one day I will be smoke free.
If you were someone’s life coach, what would you tell them? Freedom and happiness is on the other side of fear. From the stories others tell us to the stories our minds make up, fear can be paralyzing at time. Once I realized that fear is just an illusion everything changed for me. I still get afraid, but I don’t let it overtake me. A lady I look up to once told me: fear is growth! And I agree!
Fun and furious questions:
- If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? Yes, maybe a couple of heartbreaks I’d avoid.
- How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you are? 30 year old.
- What activity makes you lose track of time? Hiking
- Best cheat indulgence? Pinot Noir
- If you could only speak one word today, what would it be? Grateful.
To stay up to date with Nellie, follow her social media sites here:
Much love and Aloha,
your I’m a big fan! clueless wanderer