To Rwanda

Trip Start Sep 08, 2013
Trip End Oct 04, 2013

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Where I stayed
Chez Lando

Flag of Rwanda  , Kigali Province,
Thursday, September 12, 2013

This morning I worked on my laptop all morning. It was good to have some time to get caught up with projects to schedule, festival arrangements, longer term planning for activities in the Dallas area among others, and work ahead in the French Department.

I had settled my bill and was waiting in the lobby with my luggage when Mo´se arrived at 12:15. The drive to the airport was uneventful, but the arrival at the airport was rather interesting. Because Al-Qaeda-linked Somali terror group Al Shabaab has staged bloody attacks in Kenya and Uganda, and because Burundi has soldiers in the UN force in Somalia that is fighting Al Shabaab, the Burundi government is taking precautions against terror bombings. The countries only major airport would be a likely target. Of course they can't afford the massive scanners and backscatter machines we have in the West. As a result every car entering the parking lot is stopped and every person must get out and be wanded and/or frisked, right out on the road.

All that done, we were allowed to reenter the vehicle, and drive to the terminal. I’m used to the multiple security checks now but I still find them rather humorous. What happens in insecure governments is that they have different government arms keep tabs on each other; which means multiple checks for many sensitive processes. So for example, at the door to the terminal a passenger must produce air ticket and passport, in which, for foreigners, the visa is carefully checked. Once inside the door, only about three steps forward there is another agent who rechecks the papers, after which one may put all his luggage through a first x-ray machine. From there one proceeds to the check-in desk where the airline does its thing; issues a boarding pass and checks a suitcase.

Moving on, one must then fill out a departure card and hand all papers including the card to a uniformed official behind a desk, who checks information against a printed list. Literally one step away is another officer who immediately rechecks everything. Then four or five steps farther on through the gauntlet the official who actually processes the passport and visa checks everything against a computer file and stamps your passport. THEN you may pass the second scan: carryon bag again through an x-ray (removing all the usual items: laptop, liquids, electronics) and you through the metal detector (after emptying pockets removing shoes, belts, watches etc.). And all of this happens in a rather small space, so the officers are almost right next to each other. Shades of Inspector Clouseau….

The flight to Kigali left early, and was only half an hour long. I nodded off during the flight and when I would wake from time to time I noticed that almost all the other expats near me on the plane were also dozing, so were many locals. Traveling in Africa is not a restful occupation.

As I was seated toward the front of the plane and as I knowing the arrival formalities, I was one of the first passengers on the street. We were early, so I called Mr. Mundeli on his cell, but there was no answer. He hadn’t actually confirmed that he would come, so I took a taxi to Chez Lando figuring that if he did come he would go there next. And he did arrive about half an hour after I checked in. We caught up on all the urgent news and business and then he asked to be excused; he wasn’t feeling well at all. We agreed to meet tomorrow morning to drive up to Giti for some baptismal counseling and to ask a blessing on several new children. Both those can be time-consuming and are better done another day that the Day of Atonement.

I wished him rest and recovery and he left. About an hour later I went for an Indian dinner at a restaurant I like very much in Kigali.  I should sleep well tonight and tomorrow should be an interesting day.
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Karen Meeker on

Please give Mr. and Mrs. Mundeli our warm regards. We have such fond memories of the spring festival we were able to share with them several years ago. We'll be thinking of you enjoying your post Atonement meal in the lovely hotel restaurant you took us to. So many wonderful memories.

Mary Hendren on

Hi Joel,
It seems like airport security procedures are increasingly time consuming. What a sad world to make it all necessary. We trust your visit with the brethren, the blessing of children, and the Day of Atonement will go smoothly for everyone. Thanks for continuing to update us on your travels. We hope Mr. Mundeli is feeling better now.


Tess Washington on

Your familiarity with the customs and culture of the area serves you well. We'll pray for Mr. Mumdeli, the rest of the brethrens and you. Have a wonderful celebration of the Feasts and Holydays!

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