Exploring Kigali

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

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Saturday, July 1, 2006

Today I was on my own. I was supposed to meet Désiré at 10am today, but after waiting until 12pm I left on my own. I left the guesthouse and headed up to the Rwandan Office of Tourism and Parks, which is located behind Hotel Mille Collines. When I got there a guard approached me. He spoke little French and no English, and I spoke no Swahili (he asked me if I did). He has been the first person with whom I have been completely unable to communicate. Either way, he pointed to a sign on the window of the office, which said that the office was closed due to the national holiday. I was confused, because there was not other evidence of this as the streets were filled with people and shops were busy, and there were no celebrations.

From there I decided to go on a walk toward the city's mosque and Muslim quarter. By taking Avenue de la Paix from the city center I got a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys and hills. On the way I stopped to eat lunch at Spice and Ice Indian Restaurant. It was good and a little bit of a change from the Rwandan meals I had been eating, which I find rather bland. As I continued on my walk away from the city center I got many more stares from people, and even began to hear the word "muzungu," or "white man" for the first time, since I've been here. I finally reached the mosque, which is very distinctive with its clean and bright white and green walls and minarets, compared to the rest of the surrounding cement block housing.

Now before I had left on this walk, I had met Beth and Won-Gyu Hwang. Both were staying at my guesthouse. Beth is a masters student at Oxford, but from Iowa, and Won-Gyu is an economics professor from Korea. Beth is working at Women Waging Peace (a project partner of SERUKA) until September. The professor is here to help the government with economic development. They were very interesting for the brief time that we met.

Once I came back to the guesthouse I received a message from Désiré at the front desk. He had left his number for me and I called him. He was supposed to meet me at 4:30. So I took an hour nap and finished Kite Runner. He never showed up so I watched the English vs. Portugal match in my room, ate dinner at the guesthouse and returned to my room to watch Brazil lose to France.
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