Rwanda - Tanzania Kigali to Mwanza

October 27, 2011 - Moshi, Tanzania

We moved on from Kinigi Guest House to Kigali, it should have been a glorious drive but we were reduced to ‘muzungus in the mist’ lucky for us we weren’t doing the gorillas that day! The rain came down most of the way and for the duration of our stay in Kigali. St Paul’s, where we stayed, was a place where the pastor had sheltered many people from the genocide. A million people were killed, 250 000 people were buried at the Kigali Memorial Centre where there are beautiful gardens for the grieving near the mass graves. The museum was well worth a visit it educated people on the precursors and the whole process of genocide through to the long term consequences. The exhibit really hits home as there are many personal extracts from survivors and artefacts donated by the families of those murdered. Sometimes it was the likely only precious photograph they had and personal information about the child who was murdered and how it happened. We left feeling heavy with the horror of all we had read and seen!

Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda contributing largely to the cleanliness of the city, they also took care to maintain the roadside gardens - a far cry from streets of Malawi which were filled with their blue national flower (blue plastic bags strewn everywhere)! The traffic lights were very advanced and told us how many seconds would pass before the lights would change again, they even had fancy cat eyes to help you at night around the circles. The housing all over Rwanda seemed to be of a much higher standard than we have seen in other African countries too.

We stayed 2 nights in Kigali and moved on towards the Tanzanian border. The border post was slow, the roadway being reduced to a narrow one lane bridge between the two countries and there were some diplomats causing quite a traffic jam. Lorries then began to move across from Tanzania and we waited and waited for a gap. Eventually George went to beg the Rwandan official to exercise his authority and get the trucks on the other side to stop so we could pass before another multitude proceeded.......he took his time enjoying our frustration! We headed onto the Tanzanian side remembering to change lanes back to driving on the left. It took some time for George to realise he had been swindled in money changing, the tout at the border had mixed Mozambiquan money in with the Tanzanian notes, of course not the big denominations which we were more familiar with. No wonder the second crook was so convincing in trying to get George to change more money, he saw we were successfully duped!

The landscape changed dramatically, the land of a thousand hills had been left behind and opened up into patches of savannah and dense woodlands. Agriculture in Tanzania seemed less well organised, scattered and land is clearly plentiful though drier. In Uganda and Rwanda the population is so dense that every patch of ground is inhabited or cultivated.

We headed towards Mwanza taking some road detours along major road construction areas. This was rather tricky with recent rains, the caravan slid all over in the mud and we ground to a halt up one narrow hill....’we’re stuck’ George said dismayed as there was not a tree in sight to winch against and no Steve to rescue us! George reversed a bit and luckily ‘pole... pole’ (slowly...slowly), inch by inch we made our way up. The fun was not yet over as up at the top of the next hill a lorry had broken down leaving a narrow space to pass. We moved through but the caravan must have slid towards the truck. We drove some way before George realised something had happened, the men were waving us down as our awning had caught on their lorry and was pulled off. They ran up the road with it and helped us thread the awning back on. We were relieved!  Heading towards Mwanza we took the ferry, the landscape had again changed with lots of rocky outcrops.

 Mwanza was a busy, pretty town, the hills were full of rocks and the town was built amidst them. The yacht club provided reasonable camping facilities but unlucky for us we arrived on a night when 300 guests were expected for a wedding and marquees filled the campsite. The bride’s car arrived parking right outside our caravan whilst her guests filtered past and had fun, she sat there for at least 2 hours waiting for the customary moment for the couple to join the party! The DJ babbled on incessantly thereafter at 10xs the volume of the music, everyone seemed to dance to his command and around the newlyweds who were like robots, it all seemed so drab for the happy couple!

It was time for the Serengeti so we headed for the Serengeti Stopover camp.

 

 


Pictures

Kigali traffic lights - obeyed too!!  021-550
Rice paddi Rwanda 032-550
Rwanda - rainy days 014-550
Rwanda nice step ladder 013-550
 
 

5 Comments

brigitte parfitt:
October 27, 2011
Hi dear friends, first of all I thank you for the call the other day. I realised the line was bad - more so on your side - but I hope that your heart was glad that you could make some contact with a friend. You really have been gone for a LOOOOONG time. Adventure after adventure!!! After the lush jungle of Uganda the Serengeti must have seemed like the Karoo for you; however, I have the most wonderful memories of it (but then, I hadn't been in Uganda!) We are looking forward to the weedend as Natalie is coming with mother- and sister-in-law and friend to chose her wedding dress. Going to a designer in Mowbray for an hour's appointment on Sat. I have organised a little surprise. A friend will bring my prepared picknick basked with champagne and tasty snacks. It'll be fun. As we'll be gone for the whole morning, I had to rope in a friend for that to make it a surprise.
I trust that your travels to the next stop will be very enjoyable, no hick-ups and good weather.
With much love and prayers, Brigitte and Roy
Claire:
October 27, 2011
Know what you mean about coming out feeling heavy with horror at things you saw at the memorial. We went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., So thankful to get to go to it, yet sickened by the unfathonable wickedness mankind can sink down to - and amazed at the inner strength and courage people had to have to survive such horrific atrocities.
Alice:
October 28, 2011
Yes Claire, amazed at how that society has been transformed and how the people have gone on, a testimony to incredible strength. Driving around the streets we realised there is hardly a person untouched by the genocide and who continues to live with the generational trauma and other long term consequences....yet everything seems so normal.
Ellie:
October 28, 2011
Hi. What a wonderful trip you are having. So many different sites and cultures. Museum sounds like it is rather emosional to visit. I went to the salve museum in Cincinnati - it was situated at the end of the "underground railway" - getting the slaves to the north & freedom. Take care and keep safe.
November 9, 2011
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