BootsnAll Travel Network

Rwanda my saviour.

I ended up missing all the buses and transport to Kigali, but because of a nice kid who helped me out in trying to get a bus and to finally find a cheap room $4US (yea baby) I ended up having an good time. The place was pretty basic, but it was a clean room with a shower that had super high pressure and the coldest water I had felt in a long time. It was fantastic. To top it off, the place had a restaurant which was a buffet. Lordy, for one dollar, french fries, broiled potatoes, salad, spaghetti, beef, rice, fried plantains, and a fanta for $.35. I was soooooo happy. It was one of my top meals ever. I ended up sleeping fourteen hours all snuggled up in my sleeping back because there was this awesome mountainous chill in the air.

The next day I was a new man. Traveling was interesting again and things were looking up. I headed to the bus company and got my ticket. When the bus came it was a beautiful, comfortable, new bus. We drove through beautiful scenery on roads that were paved and smooth.

Rwanda is a beautiful country, one of my top choices for scenery in Africa. Most people will however know it as the place of probably the worst case of genocide in history. Up to a million men, women, and children were systematically killed by marauding bands of military and locals killing everyone in their paths using basic weapons such as machetes and clubs. This killing took just around 3 months all with pre-warning and the rest of the world standing to the side watching it happen. I wish I could go into more detail but there are some good movies that will do a better job than I. Hotel Rwanda was probably the most famous movie but there was also one called 100 days. There are numerous books as well. I say that I am not a very good option as I was royally screwed over when I went to the Tourist office in Kigali to find out where the Genocide Museum was and the lady told me there wasn’t one in Kigali and that I would have to go to Butare the Educational Center of Rwanda. I did that only to find out that the major center was in fact in Kigali. Now that makes the Apartheid museum in J’burg and now the Genocide Museum in Rwanda that I have missed. I’m never getting smarter.

To describe Rwanda, think jungles of banana trees, corn, trees, and bushes. Greener than anything green you can think of. 95% of Rwanda has been turned into agricultural land however it is still beautiful as a lush jungle. It is also known as the land of a thousand hills and that might be a understatement. Finding a flat spot, good luck. It just adds to the beauty. It is also another city called “The city of eternal spring.” The other being Medellin and I am sure a hundred more.

With such a tragedy occurring not more than 14 years ago, you would think the place was a worn down, disater area, but in that 14 years they have turned the capital into one of the nicest ones that I have seen. It is a mixture of country and big city that is a perfect mix for me. The only negative is that there is not a way to get money out of atm’s. I am running very low on cash and will be cutting it close getting down to Tanzania where there are banks with atm’s. I still have to get through Rwanda and then Burundi before getting to Tanzania.

I spent four days in Kigali getting my Burundi and Tanzania Visas ($40 and $50). I ate, drank and slept recovering from my own wounds.

At the moment I am in Butare, the educational capital, hanging out getting my internet stuff caught up. Four hours so far with all the picture uploading still to be done. I will at least have the writing done which is probably the toughest part.

I did meet a Norwegian guy on the bus down and we ended up sharing a room together. It was extremely nice talking in English and chatting to another traveler. He spent a lot of time to the north where I am going and I had all the info for the south so it worked out perfectly. He also had a really good guide book so I was able to get some very important maps and information. He is also going south the same way I am going for a while so he is going to forward some information for me since Burundi is a very untraveled region as it is just getting over a long standing civil war and tourists haven’t quiet started going there yet. He was also the intellectual type so I tagged along with him to a local village where they used to have a very large Technical college. During the Genocide, people flocked there hoping to escape the carnage. What happened though was that it just made it easier for the killers who ended up killing over 25,000 men, women, and children in the school. They have a new huge memorial there and are using the class rooms to display the bodies that were found throughout the area. They covered them with lime so they don’t deteriorate and you are able to see where the bodies were hacked apart with machetes and even to the point little babies bodies with their limbs cut off or their heads crushed. It still doesn’t compare to the memorial in Kigali where more than a quarter of a million bodies are kept in one memorial. There are many memorials throughout the land usually at churches where the same thing happened as at the school. The people went to the churches for help but they were just trapped there and murdered sometimes with the priests and nuns the cause as if they didn’t tell the killers about the people, they would be killed. It was one big mess. We also went to an excellent museum which was created through the Belgiums as they were probably the major cause for the Genocide.

The plan is to spend another day or two here in Butare, primarily working on the website, and then heading down to Bujumbura, the Capital of Burundi where I will catch a Ferry that will go down to Kigoma, Tanzania. There I will catch a train to take me across Tanzania to Dar Es Salaam and the kick off of my back on the tourist trail.

So, I am done with writing. Look forward to some pictures coming soon. I’m off to eat, drink, and nap. Blood pressure- Normal.

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-5 responses to “Rwanda my saviour.”

  1. Robert says:

    Great stuff Steve. I must say though that I now think that you’re kind of nuts. Certifiable. hehehe. You get into such “interesting” situations in some crazy places.
    Your descriptions enough to keep me coming back here almost daily to check for updates and the info you provide is invaluable. A side affect of me reading this info is that I find myself really longing to get out again and do some more discovering. And now I want to see Africa.
    I just recently “rediscovered” your blog after a few months. For some reason I didn’t realize that you were heading over to Africa after leaving S.America.
    Keep checking everything out and continue to keep us informed about it.
    Oh and glad to read that you stuck it out at and finaly got that visa for the Congo… and glad to hear that you’re out now and able to enjoy some creature comforts again.
    My best,
    (We met briefly in a hotel in Lima… you chekcing out and me picking up a delivered pizza..)

  2. patrick says:

    Steve, hi, i met you in lusaka in cha cha cha, i am an irish guy, we met in the kitchen. i have overlanded from cairo to capetown and now am going capetown to cork ireland. Came through madness in Angola now i am in kinshasa; Tell me something…….can you get a visa for congo brazzaville en route by ship fro, kinshasa:::nrnrheres my story from angola to kinshasanrnrnrPotholes, em yeah, there are potholes , the country has been at war for over 40 years, mud, yeah that too, thieves, murderers, corrupt cops, army officials, government heads, all the usual things you’d expect from an African country that has been destroyed and completely devastated for over two generations. The Lonely Planet says, “only for the bloody stupid”. Telephones, ha, try and make a phone call, I dare you, internet, yeah I found a computer, it’s run by a windmill. nrI got here after applying for an Angolan visa in 3 embassies and had to travel over 1500 kilometres in the effort, I spent 3 nites on buses with people who had never seen a backpacker before, let alone a backpacker with a skateboard, I got off the bus 70 kilometres outside the capital city Luanda to the ooohs and aaahs of a bus load of people saying where are you going you cant go out there, there are mines and bombs and all sorts of stuff. Yeah well, I was camping that night, no way I was heading into the capital in the dark. nrI was not prepared for Angola but a sort of miracle happened. I arrived late at nite in this bus station in the south of the country, you can’t walk around coz you´ll get killed in about 3 seconds so I waited the long night on my camping mat under a bench ( and never once thought that I am getting too old for this) nrThe following morning I awoke to the exhaust fumes and tried to find a way onto the next place, no one spoke English and everyone thought I had arrived on my board. Suddenly this guy arrives who speaks English, tells me that the bus I need is in another bus station and says he will help me to get there coz if he doesn’t I will get murdered. So off we go, Oh yeah, I have no money coz the banks are closed and it’s a public holiday. The guy finds someone on the street who changes me a hundred dollar bill from my reserves in my underwear. The bus costs a fortune, actually everything here costs a fortune. The cheapest hotel room is a hundred dollars, I am thinking that I am in trouble. The guy tells me he’s a pastor from a Christian church puts me on my bus and gives me his telephone number to add to my other hundreds of telephone numbers that people give you and you throw in your bag with the banana skins and never think of again. I get to Luanda, I’ve only got my visa card. You need a 4 wheel drive to get around the city streets of Luanda, it is a disaster zone. I am at this stage screwed, no money and no way to get any money because after the hundred countries or so that I have visited this is the first one that doesn’t accept visa. OOOPs. nrOnly one thing for it, ding a ling a ling. I call the guy. He gives me a number. Someone comes to get me. Amazing. The guy says I can stay in his house. OK Cool. He picks me up. Then suddenly I notice everyone is looking at the car, looking at the guy I am with , pointing and saying DO DO DO DO, the guys name is DO DO. He’s a rock star in Luanda, everyone knows him, he knows the president, he’s like one of the most famous dudes in the country and for no particular reason than some Reverend preacher man that I met in a bus station, I am staying in his house in the craziest city ion Africa. You think that travelling through 17 countries in the north east and south of this nutty continent would prepare you for west Africa , yeah right, like eating corn flakes prepares you to grow corn. nrAnywayz people, I pick up my visa for the Congo today and hope to get up that legendary river into the heart of darkness…..nrNever give up no matter what you’re at, coz somehow theres always light at the end of the tunnel and if you’re really lucky you’ll just get put up by a rock star in a random town,nrnrThe journey through the rainforest from Luanda to Kinshasa takes 6 Days in a real beat up junked four by four, kind of like a Chinese junk on wheels full of congoles people with babies, through mud and army and rivers and jungles and getting stuck in the mud; and tipping over and sleeping in jungle and crazed people ploughing through this highway that is made of mud and holes and congolese music blasting out of holes in the dashboard like the freakin thing is alive and in the beginning I was thinking ::::when I finish this trip I am gonna:::::::::and now it is more like ::::::if I ever finish this trip::: and cops and passport showing and moustaches attacking from all sides and congo, no guide book, no clue what I am doing except praying a lot and no idea what I am gonna do when I get to the capital , no one speakin English and exhausted from bumping up and down and up and down and then we arrive late at nite again and what happens, the jeep driver a crazy wild man brings me to his house and I get to crash there in the suburbs of madness and noise and mud and churches and singing and stars and suddenly his brother comes and speaks English and I don’t even know where I am; no map no clue but all is groovy in congo and someone is looking for a banana boat to get me up the congo river::: a journey of three weeks and someone else knows a pygmy village I can visit and man these people are awesome and I haven’t seen a white person in weeks, maybe I will marry a pygmynrThe congo continues to shatter and amaze in inhalations and exhalations, if i am gonna die on the road this is definitely the place to do it , absolute madness and mayhem at every step; hiding from cops and immigration and people with shades and guns and mama mia……nrBy now ive been living on a barge for the last 5 days trying to get up the congo river but every day the boat is supposed to leave it doesnt, it is insane, crammed aboard in deplorable conditions with hundreds of others but I have come this far and will hold out as long as i can; i have to keep my head down coz as soon as a cop or an immigration man sees me they are on my ass looking for money ; finding fault with my visa and hassling my weary ass incessantly; i am the only white and everyone knows me all over the port; nri finally left the port today after 5 long days in medieval conditions and found this computer; wow, its like being a spy in a movie or something; it is bizarre, no one speaks english either and im goofing around with what little french i know, its like being in a kafka trip, on the streets I wear long sleeves and a hat and ive a bushy beard and I keep my sleeves down over my hands trying not to advertise my whiteness but it is I impossible ; everything I do gets a reply from everyone I see, they speak in French but I understand, they call me Mondele the local word for whiteman and so constantly people talk about you:::nr” oh look mondele……..mondele is eating bread………mondele is buying water………………….mondele is reading a book” nrnrit is hard to know whether to laugh or cry……it is intense…………….no personal space is allowed in congo Africa……the chimps in the zoo have it easier, at least they get thrown food::mondele mondele mondele, the saga continues: ive been in Africa for 8 months too so it aint like I am unaccustomed to the conditions but this takes the proverbial doggie biscuit and tramples on it in stylenrtwo guys trying to help me wearing the following shirts and I am sure they don’t know what they say “if you live in a whore house you gonna get fucked” and “ the more hair I lose the more head I get” : Are these signs I should be following;nri am going back to the bargenrnrthe insanity continuesnrBRING IT ONnrPeacenrpatricknrnr

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