Journey to Kigali

Trip Start Aug 22, 2006
Trip End Nov 19, 2006

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Sunday, September 3, 2006

The 3.00 am Jaguar night bus from Kampala was fully booked, and as 'Snoring Guy'had taken my seat, I had to settle for the aisle seat with passengers brushing against me and knocking my head with their luggage without even apologising. This seemed to be in keeping with the stereotype that despite their good looks, the Rwandese have atrocious manners. I slept most of the way, waking up briefly to catch glimpses of dawn over the beautiful South West Ugandan countryside. From Ankole region the rolling hills eventually give way to steeper, higher, terraced hills of Kabale with their winding roads. As we went around the sharp bends, the bus driver sounded his horn to warn on coming traffic.
Arrived at the Uganda/Rwanda border Gatuna and got off the bus for Immigration checks. I made my way through no mans land to the Rwandese side, all the while being harassed by the money changers and street hawkers "Auntie, change?" "Chewing gum?"
The Immigration officer spent ages processing a group of Belgian tourists in front of me. Apparently he was writing out everything they had filled out on the Immigration Arrivals cards, and then inputting the same information onto his computer! He was really slow!!!
I could see the Jaguar bus guys chucking luggage out of the bus for Rwandese Customs checks. Passengers would identify their luggage to put back on to the bus.
Remembering that the purpose of this trip was to learn how to start talking to people, I asked the Belgians what they were doing in Rwanda. They stiffened on hearing me speak English (they had been making disparaging remarks about the locals), but on seeing my EC Passport decided I was alright
"Oh, we are going to see Gorillas"
"Don't we have those in Uganda?"
"Yes, we went to see those, but have been told that there are others in Rwanda"
Well if they've got money to waste...
As a rule, I don't normally speak to tourists. They tend to despise the locals- think we are only after their money. But the other people in the queue were all speaking Kinya-rwanda (Rwandese language), French or Swahili. I'd tried to initiate a conversation with the guy standing behind me first in English and then switched to Swahili, but either my Swahili is very rusty or too 'accented' because he kept answering "yes" to all my questions including "How long will it take to get to Kigali from Gatuna?"
The Jaguar bus had started revving its engine; most passengers were already on the bus and I could see my rucksack sitting forlornly on the ground.
A Rwandese man tried to force his way in front of me in the queue to which I protested very loudly. Thankfully the guys behind me who were more fluent in Swahili took over and we booted him to the back of the line. When it finally came to my turn, I was a bit surprised when the officer, checked to see whether my passport was genuine using the violet light thingy. This happens all the time in Europe. It had not happened in Uganda.
"Where are you going?" I looked pointedly at the Arrival Card I'd just filled out, on the desk in front of him
"Purpose of visit?" I looked at card again. Can't the guy take a hint?
"Visiting my sister"

My rucksack was finally picked up by the bus conductor who tossed it back onto the bus. Phew! As soon as the officer had stamped my passport, I grabbed it and raced back. One and a half hours later we were in Kigali where my sister, niece Marisa and a friend were on hand to meet me.
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