When there is a will there is a way...
Trip Start Jul 23, 2009
23Trip End Sep 25, 2009
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Where I stayed
Centre d'accueil de l'Eglise Presbyterienne
Last I wrote I was on my way to Rwanda to go Gorilla trecking. So the closest town to do this is Musanze. So I made my way there and now I know why they call this country the place of a thousand mountains. It's pretty crazy but the roads on the Rwandan side are really good (sadly better than Montreal). So early in the morning I went to try to get a permit. Now these things are booked months in advance but I heard that you could get cancellations fairly easily. So in the guidebook there is supposedly a bureau that helps tourists with exactly this but unfortunately they closed the office and a girl told me I had to go to the park and hope someone didn't show up.
So I make my way there and the person there says that I can wait but it's rare. So I wait a couple hours and the news is not good as everyone is there and on top of it I don't have any way to go back so I have to do a walk of shame back to town. So I ended up getting a bike ride and now I had two alternatives that I had to see. First I would check with a tour company and then worst case I would go to the Congo as I heard it was easier to get permits but it was a little risky as far as safety.
So I found a company and one of the employees called the boss and he guaranteed that I would get a pass as someone had called him saying he had a cancellation for the next day. Awesome so he said he would call me in 30 minutes but then hours went by with no news. I called him back and he said there was no problem and that I would for sure see the gorillas but he didn't have the permit in his hands so was waiting until he got it.
To pass the time I decided to go hiking in these lave caves outside of town and had a few kids that tagged along partially because they thought I looked like Michael Scowfield from Prison Break (must be the shaved head). What was a little freaky is that the kids casually picked up a skull and told me it was a child's head from the genocide. I thought they were messing with me and that it was an animal but when I looked closer it was a young child's skull and when I looked around there were bones everywhere. I was planning on going to the genocide memorial in Kigali but was not prepared to see the signs of this tragedy from 1994 still so prevalent. The casualness of the children also speaks to their acceptance of this period as just a moment of history but it's hard to accept when you see the effects it had. To put it in perspective the rate of people killed was 10x the amount of Jews killed by the Nazis. For such a small country that's just scary.
So the owner finally calls me at 5:30 to tell me that unfortunately the guy that was supposed to cancel changed his mind so he did not have a permit for me. So I didn't want to waste another moment so I packed my stuff and rushed out of the hostel (I also didn't want to pay another night as it was a little expensive). I got a night bus to a border town called Gisenye and I planned to cross the border to Congo at night.
Now I was a little nervous going to the Congo for two reasons...firstly there had been some rebel activity just outside of Goma (where I was going). The second reason was that in the Lonely Planet there are huge sections on all the countries in East Africa but for Congo it was three pages saying the history and basically how dangerous it is and how it is not safe to travel there.
So I get on the bus and speak to two locals. One goes to school in Gisenye and another has family just outside of town. Both agreed though that it was a bad idea to cross the border at night and that I should stay in the town and travel in the morning. So although I wanted to get to Goma as soon as possible I would rather get there in one piece so I stayed the night in a nice little hostel.