Bujumbura to Kigali

Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
Trip End Oct 22, 2008

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This morning I checked out early as planned, and we put my suitcase in the back of the same Corolla station wagon we had used yesterday. We drove to what is called the musée vivant (the living museum) a mini-zoo displaying fauna from the region. Rather alarmingly most of the animals displayed were deadly. There were half a dozen different types of crocodiles, including one very large one, and one named Gustave.  They all live in Lake Tanganyika on the shores of which Bujumbura is built. The Gustave in the zoo is not the real Gustave. There was a man-eating croc that lived near Bujumbura, around where the Rusizi River, which links Bukavu and Lake Kivu, with Lake Tanganyika connects with the latter. His name is Gustave and he particularly likes eating people. He is 20 feet long, and weighs a ton. He is the largest crocodile ever seen in Africa. Gustave has taken hundreds (the figure 300 is often mentioned) of people; people washing clothes, fetching water or fishing. In Bujumbura, the word is that some croc experts from South Africa came and caught him very recently, then released him in a very remote area. I couldn't find any confirmation of that on the Internet, but I hope for the people on the Rusizi that it's true.
I told Nathan that after seeing all this, I had decided not to swim in Lake Tanganyika. He found that quite amusing.
After the crocs, we went into the snake house. There were some very friendly customers inside. The spitting cobra which blinds its prey or enemies with an expert shot of venom it can spit several meters into eyes. The guide, opened the door, reached in and shook the sleeping snake out of its hollow piece of wood with a thump. The hood deployed and I noticed immediately that there was a viscous liquid on the glass of his enclosure (the other snakes got metal mesh, he got glass...). There were several other cobras, a boomslang (can be fatal), several vipers, and one snake whose name has slipped my mind, for whose venom there is no antidote and which is fatal in humans in under two minutes. Charming.... There was also a rather large constrictor. For some reason those don't seem as frightening to me, although I suppose if I were being swallowed whole, I would change my mind.  The guide said we could touch that one and offered to pull it out for us to handle, but none of us wished to do so. The only cuddly animals in the whole place were the gazelles.
Before leaving the zoo, we visited a recreation of the "palace" of the old kings of Burundi. It was made of coiled plant material and covered with very long grass, reminding me vaguely of a Beatles haircut from the late 1960s. Inside there was a "waiting room," a place for a warming fire (it can get almost cold here), and a very small bed enclosure behind a screen for the king.

We drove on to the Hotel Club Lake Tanganyika which I wanted to see. It is built right on the lakeshore, has reasonably furnished rooms and is slightly less expensive than the Novotel, so I may well try it next time. It's not as conveniently, but very pleasantly located.  After a look around the grounds and several rooms, it was time to go the airport.
The flight was on time and originated in Bujumbura, so there was no one on board when we passengers entered the aircraft. We hit some impressive air pockets on the short flight to Kigali, but that was the only unusually thing about it. Rather strangely, I was the only passenger to deplane here in Kigali. I have rarely if ever had that experience before, to walk all alone across the tarmac to the arrivals area.
I had mistyped the arrival time in my e-mail so Mr. Mundeli didn't arrive at the airport until shortly after I left in a taxi for Chez Lando, my usual hotel in Kigali. I had reserved a room on their relatively new website, and had received the confirmation e-mail, but the fellow at the desk has no reservation for me. I showed him the confirmation e-mail on my laptop, which included my name, the type of room and the confirmed number of nights and the dates. "Well yes, that is the website" he said "but you don't have a reservation." He handed me a phone number on a slip of paper. "Just call here next time" he explained. He told me he had a room for the night, but couldn't guarantee the next two nights. "Ask again tomorrow to see" he told me helpfully.
I had a late lunch of a brochette and fries in the outdoor barbecue pit. Chez Lando is locally famous for its barbecued goat brochettes. They cost less that two dollars each and are truly delicious. The beef brochettes are marginally more expensive, just as delicious, and quite a bit less chewy. I splurged on the beef.
After lunch, I tried to call Mr. Mundeli from the hotel phone, but got a busy signal. I called the desk and asked them to allow my phone to make outside calls. "You cannot call out from your phone" the receptionist tells me. "Well", I replied, "you place the call and connect me."
"Our phone system is not working well, we cannot place calls, but we can receive them" he said helpfully. Hmm.
About this time Mr. Mundeli arrived. We went to my room and discussed many things for about three hours: local and international church matters, Bible questions, questions about how various people were doing, and so on. It is always a pleasure to spend time with Mr. Mundeli. He is well educated, traveled, and very dedicated to serving his brethren in the Church.
Finally we agreed to meet at 7:30 tomorrow morning to drive up to Giti to see the plots of land we have purchased, adjacent to the church hall. We plan to use these plots for the Feast of Tabernacles in years to come and got very good deals on their purchase just recently.
We'll also have some preparations to make for the Feast of Tabernacles soon to come. And we'll have lots of time to talk on the way up.
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