First Day on the Road with Geckos

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Dec 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Notre Dame de Fatima - Hostel
What I did
Kigali Genoside Museum

Flag of Rwanda  ,
Sunday, November 6, 2011

After doing major packing last night, Juliet and I were up at 6:29 - 1 minute before her alarm rang.  We were early for breakfast so we had our choice of the choice fruit.  Some photos of the garden, more organizing and we were out to join the group at 8:30 for our departure.

Our first stop was the Kigali Genocide Museum.  It was quite sobering what people do to one another.  There were quite a few videos of survivors and the horrors they saw and experienced.  Other exhibits showed skulls and bones, clothes.  Especially moving was the exhibit of large photos of smiling children with captions telling of their horrible deaths by burning, shooting, hacking by machetes.  There was a room full of photos of the adults killed.  Outside was the site of mass graves with flowers.

After the museum we had an approx. 2 hour ride to the Volcano National Park.  On the way we stopped for a picnic.  We ate our lunch and flapped our dishes.  One was flapped too hard and broke.   These overland tours take pride in health precautions, especially sanitary practices around food.  We have 2 sets of basins:  one for hand washing prior to eating or any food handling and the other for dish washing.  Each set is comprised of 3 basins:  detergent, antiseptic, and rinse.  After we eat, we each have responsibility for washing our dishes and drying them by flapping them in the air.  I guess this lessens chances of contamination.  I haven't gotten sick while on any of the overland trips using these practices - a testimonial!
Everyone was quite taken with the mountain scenery...the lush green of the trees and crops...terraces on the steep mountainsides.  There were groves of banana trees, fields of potatoes and squash vines, and rows of sticks for the beans.  We waved to the children along the way and tried not to run them over on the windy, steep road.  It was obvious from the countryside that Rwanda was a beautiful country.  We also learned that it was a relatively prosperous and stable one with a good government.  It is hard to believe that the people in Rwanda have manged to overcome the horror of genocide and get it together enough to build up their country but evidently they have.  You could see that the small farms are well-cared for; things are neat and tidy

We reached Notre Dame de Fatima Catholic hostel in mid afternoon.  Frederick encouraged people to upgrade* to rooms but some of us decided to put up our tents.  They are quite new but seemed a lot harder to put up than the last Gecko ones I remember.  After putting up our tent, Juliet & I joined Fiona (from Australia - there are 2 Fiona's in our group of 19) and Christine for a photo tour of the town.  The highlight was the mother who gave us her little boy to hold while we snapped photos.  We took pics of lots of kids too.  We got back just in time to go out to our group dinner at a restaurant where we had all kinds of local food:  several potato dishes, cassava, pumpkin and a lovely spinach dish...all after a very tasty orangish soup...probably squash of some sort.

We would have gone out to a bar but the thought of having to be at breakfast at 6 am brought us back to Fatima's.  Juliet is now having a conversation with a local here in the TV room.

*Upgrading:  These overland tours feature camping in tents provided by the company.  They also provide sleeping mats and we bring our own sleeping bags.  The places we stayed were often combinations of accommodations:  a real or improvised campground; motel/hotel or hostel with rooms, bar and/or restaurant, craft could be anything.  For those who find putting up a tent a chore, especially in bad weather, or who prefer to have their own bathroom and electrical socket, an upgrade is a logical choice. 

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