First Entry in Kigali

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 30, 2006

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Well, this entry is a little later than I had first intentioned. I was tired/busy from travels to spend to much time looking for a cyber cafe near my guesthouse and the internet was not working at the SERUKA offices (where I am interning) yesterday. But, we are up and running today!

First things first the flight was fine and great, just really long! Once I got to Nairobi I had to spend the night there. Just as promised there were "sleeping cubicles" available at the airport, so I did not have to leave. The cubicles where just that, tiny little rooms hardly enough to fit the twin bed. It was decently comfortable for the $40 it cost to rent for the 8 hours, but I ended up not getting more than 4 hours of sleep - nerves and excitement I guess. The next morning I was bording my last plane on a flight to Bujumbura then to Kigali. On the plane I met a man from Cameroon, who had read Kite Runner (which I was then reading) and we had a short conversation about it. I was suprised later to find out that he was staying in Kigali at the same guesthouse as I was!

Landing in Kigali was gorgeous! Just as promised the country is nothing but green rolling hills. As we landed all you could see was cultivated land and small tin roofed homes. On arrival I meet Alice, just as she promised at the airport. I suprised myself and was able to keep up a conversation in French for the 20min car ride into the city center - Kiyovu - where my guesthouse was located. It is a very nice place. Comfortably sized and fully furnished rooms with private bathrooms - of quality that would be expected at any mid range US hotel. The first day Alice left me at the guesthouse to get some rest for the rest of the day. That I did, taking two 2 hour naps. I woke up for lunch - fish and chips with plantains - and to register at the US embassy, which was only 15 min away by foot. After my second nap, dinner was chicken, rice, and plantians. At the hotel's restaurant I also met a Frenchman here in Kigali for business. We spoke for a short while, before I left to watch France defeat Spain and make it into the quarter finals (TV in my room) and finally fall asleep.

Yesterday, was my first day at SERUKA. Desiré came and picked me up at the guesthouse at 9am and walked me to the office, just 10min away. I was introduced to the staff, and given some background general literature about the orgnaization. At noon I was sent back to get more rest (which was fine with me, since I was tired.) Again ate lunch at the guesthouse and rested and read some more. At 4 Desiré came back for me to take me on a quick tour of the city. Really all we did was change some money and try to get my phone to work at a local phone company (MTN). Apparently the "world" phone that I bought before I left doesn't really work worldwide. Unfortunately, the phone would not work with a simple change of SIM card and we'll have to go back to the phone center to try to see if there is something they can do.

After that, Desiré recommended "La Sierra" restaurant to me for dinner since I was eager to try something new and get out of the guesthouse restaurant. I took a "moto-taxi" there, which was kindly arranged by the guesthouse staff - quite an experience! The restaurant was cheap about $5 (2600Frw) for a cheeseburger, fries, and coke, including tip. I decided to walk back to the guesthouse from there after I ate and take in the beautiful evening scenery. The hills surrounding Kigali remind me of a greener Californina, like what you would see around Stanford in the winter. Again, still a little tired I read some, watched Rwandan news, and headed to bed.

So far everyone has been extremely kind and nice. I have been very suprised to find out that nearly everyone in Kigali speaks English, French, and Kinyarwanda. So I haven't had a hard time getting around at all. With all the kind people and beautiful scenery it truly is difficult to imagine that the horrors that took place just 12 years ago actually occured.
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joshing16 on

Thanks for your cali love
Hi Megan! Glad to see that you enjoyed the entry. I hope all is well in Los Gatos and that you are enjoying your vacation, especially when you head off to Hawaii (right?)!

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