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Rwanda

 

 30th January 2014 Entered Rwanda with formalities which took two hours, though fairly straightforward. US$30 each for a visa. An almighty rainstorm poured down for about half an hour in the midst of a ramshackle border post hosting about one hundred juggernauts but no worries as we were well trained at the Zambian entry point.

 

Rwanda is already a beautiful, mountainous terrain and, although the villages are similar to Tanzania, the tree lined roads, hedges, grass and no rubbish or brick heaps present a much more pleasant picture. Also no speed bumps and humps, which in Tanzania are vicious.

Staying tonight at the back of a motel, had dinner and got some local Kwachas (francs) in the town of Kayonza, about 60k from Kigali.

31st January 2014 Started the day by taking a drive some 20k out of Kayonza to a genocide memorial. The last 10k took us along a very rough road to the site but when we arrived we found a church and some graves, lager than the usual, but not much else. Parking there trying to figure if we were at the right place a man standing nearby walked across and introduced himself as Andrew. He explained that there were three thousand victims of the genocide buried here who had been killed in cold blood in the surrounding buildings, and that they were in the process of building the memorial.

We offered him a lift to where he was going which happened to be 60k along the road to Kigali and as we travelled it turned out that he was a Catholic priest, educated in Chicago, well travelled, but was now a parish priest and sometime advisor to a private school near Kigali.

Rwanda is a breath of fresh air. Beautiful, mountainous, with tree blossomed roads all the way to Kigali. It is a manicured garden.

Kigali is a modern, clean, efficient city. One or two set of lights, (digital ones that do a count down to the change of colour), and the rest controlled by roundabouts. I haven’t driven in the right hand lane for forty years but I can tell you this was the easiest of reintroductions. This seems to be the most advanced African country so far.

Registered at the Kigali Youth Hostel, though it should be called the Kigali Aged Hostel for obvious reasons, plenty of oldies.

In the afternoon we went to the Rwanda memorial and museum in Kigali, which opened our eyes to what went on here twenty years ago. It’s unimaginable. After the German holocaust they said never again. Well I think it’s ever again, it just keeps happening. 250,000 buried here.

In the evening I had a jam session with a Rwandan reggae man and an American wildlife ranger, it pumped, attracting various Germans and others with nothing better to do.

 1st February 2014 Motored west across the same beautiful, mountainous country to Kibuye on the shores of Lake Kivu where we are camped, among the gum trees in the grounds of a luxury hotel, the Bethany. Right on the lake, we look across to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is an African choir singing just above us on the next outdoor level.

We are in the territory of Diana Fossey (Gorillas in the mist); she is buried in nearby Volcanoes National Park where her gorillas still live. We may go to see them but the asking price is $750 each so I’m not sure we will do it.

I got out of the car to look at the choir and their photographer invited me to come closer. I asked for permission to film and it was granted. Turns out they were making a promotional film for their out coming CD. I think they liked that I was interested and saw that I was dancing along. The music was very good and I bought a CD, they all cheered. Later they asked me if I would like to join them in the choir, singing and being part of the film clip. That was the start of my film career. I had a lot of fun up there with them; they even gave me a robe to wear so you could hardly tell that I wasn’t really a member of their choir. Eat your heart out Geoffrey Rush (Bran nue dae).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m the one in the black robe.

 

Met Katarina and Daniel, from Sweden, who have the knowledge of the source of the Nile so we will go in search of it later, just like Livingstone. I have my own theory of where it is.

We later had dinner with this couple and may meet up with the family in Europe this summer.

2nd February 2014 Yep, found it, the source of the Nile, but no. To this day it is undetermined but we were in the general area, maybe. In our search we drove the back tracks of North West Rwanda and saw much of the continuously cultivated countryside. It seems no part is untouched by human hand and people are everywhere. On entering the Gisenyi area we passed a Unicef transition camp but not sure where these refugees are from, possibly South Sudan or Central African Republic. Stayed at Gisenyi overnight at the Dian Fossey (Dian not a typo) hotel car park and set of next morning in search of Gorilla.

3rd February 2014 Paused at Musanze to get some Ugandan and US money and to stock up on vegetables, which we had not had for quite some time. The roadside stall stall we stopped had a good selection and the women stallholders helped load up our bag with their choicest examples. When I asked if I could take a picture a small riot erupted with people laughing, asking for money and a final result of the head woman demanding a picture of herself, standing defiantly, arms folded with a frowned expression on her face, all antics hilarious.

On the subject of food, we have not seen a lot of salad, vegetables or fruit apart from bananas. In preparing any of the vegetables, they have to be washed in bottled water as any other water is of dubious quality. The locals may be more used to it as we saw them collecting water and washing their hands in the storm water running along the streets of the towns.

Chicken is about the only meat as the beef is of very poor quality, nearly as tender as camel hoof. The fish we did not like to try as the lakes here, huge as they are, are polluted, certainly close to shore.

This reminds me of a recipe for cooking camel hooves.

Recipe: Place the hooves, one brick, four bay leaves and seasoning to taste, into a pot of water and bring to the simmer. Simmer for three weeks. The brick is then ready to eat.

Reached the Volcanos National park where, the asking price to see the Gorillas was, truly, $750 per person. Not only that but any other trail of interest, such as Dian Fossey’s final resting place was $100 per person and you could not enter the park independently. Some volcanoes in this area are still active, the last one going off in 2010. Next stop Uganda.

We are very close to the equator, latitude 1 or 2 but I have a jumper on with daytime temperatures in the low 20’s and nights 15 or 16c. This is due to the higher altitude and the moderating effects of the great lakes system in central Africa.

Reached the Volcanos National park where, the asking price to see the Gorillas was, truly, $750 per person. Not only that but any other trail of interest, such as Dian Fossey’s final resting place was $100 per person and you could not enter the park independently. Some volcanoes in this area are still active, the last one going off in 2010. Next stop Uganda.

We are very close to the equator, latitude 1 or 2 but I have a jumper on with daytime temperatures in the low 20’s and nights 15 or 16c. This is due to the higher altitude and the moderating effects of the great lakes system in central Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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