Days 331-334 Saturday-Tuesday 01-04 December 2012 – Kigali, Rwanda – Dartford, England.
I was up early on Saturday as I wanted to do a test pack and make sure I can fit all the things I wanted to take back to England with me into my pack. It’s not that I bought much, just I had exploded everything all over the truck. It did fit, just ! I donated a few clothing items to the church orphanage and all my left over travel stuff to my kiwi friends as they were carrying on all the way back to Cape Town. Part of me is incredibly jealous and part of me is happy to be leaving Africa, worrying about finding a job and what I will do in the future has been weighing heavily on me lately.
We left at 9:00 for the two hour ride back to Kigali. As I have said before Rwanda is an incredibly beautiful country.
However, it does have a tragic history. There has been a long history of conflict, primarily between the Hutu and Tutsi people. This was not necessarily a racial conflict, more political and economic, troubles escalated in the early nineties culminating in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. This was a hundred day massacre of tutsi and moderate hutus buy the majority hutu populace. In that hundred days between half a million and a million people were killed, up to 20% of the population. The streets of Kigali apparently ran red with blood. The UN stood by and watched. Like other parts of Africa, things are complicated in this region and while there is no trouble in Rwanda, there is in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Rwandan government is alleged to be involved in this by supporting rebels.
Our first stop in Kigali was the Genocide Museum, where there are mass graves of those who died in Kigali. The museum is very good, very moving and tells, I think mostly, an honest tale of the events that led up to and beyond the genocide. It also had a section on other genocidal acts, including one on the Armenian genocide that occured during the first world war in Turkey. It has been largely ignored in the west, even though up to one and a half million ethnic Armenians died.
This was the last official activity of the trip and soon after lunch we were outside my hotel, Chez Lando saying good bye to the crew – Will, Brett, Ebron, Gary and the truck Malakai. I will miss them all, it was one of the best 63 days ever.
There are five us here for the Saturday night so we all reconvened in the bar later for dinner and drinks, dinner service was sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow !
Last night we all agreed to meet for the complimentary breakfast at 9:00 so the possibility of a monster lie in was there. But sadly sleep was bad and I was awake and reading well before I needed to be. Damn my neighbour and his turning the TV on full blast at 3:30 AM. For the first time in ages I actually got my book and read in the middle of the night.
Breakfast was not bad, lots of it and scrambled eggs and meatballs was not a combination I had tried before! The others all went to Hotel Rwanda for lunch but I elected to stay behind and do as much blogging as possible. Which turned out to be none at all! I did do loads of emails and even applied for three contract jobs in the UK – at least I felt I achieved something!
I farewelled the others (Sharon, Kathy, Will, Maria and Chantil) at 2:00 as they got on the airport transfer bus from the hotel. I didn’t achieve a lot more in my day after that and went to Hotel Rwanda myself at 5:30. I intended on staying there for a couple of hours over a glass of red or two followed by dinner, but the place was deserted, the wifi was not free and the lights were so dim I could not read my Kobo. I had a wine and an early dinner and went back to the Chez Lando and ultimately an early night.
I had another lousy sleep, I am not sure what the cause is, but I seem to sleep badly when I am in a bed – must have gotten to used to the tent and my sleeping bag liner! What ever the cause I will be trying to get into see a doctor when I get to the UK and get a prescription for some more Zopiclone – though I have not used them for close to two months now, maybe a time to get some new sleep habits – who knows. Once I am settled in the flat it will be time to get diet and exercise sorted out anyway, I have been really slack for weeks, too much good food and cheap beer – again.
I must had dropped off for a snooze very early in the morning as I only just woke in time to Skype my mum and sons at 7:30, whew – it was good to see them again and equally good that they are well.
Breakfast was spent eavesdropping on the conversations of the various NGO groups that appeared to fill the hotel restaurant, I could not hear the conversations, and many were in other European languages that I do not understand, but they all seemed so earnest and I imagined they were fresh to Rwanda. Part of me was envious of their opportunity, but mostly I was happy knowing I was leaving for a while.
I spent the rest of the morning before the 11 am check out on the internet and reading my book before packing my bags and catching a ride to Kigali airport. I was an hour earlier than I needed to be, but no point in hanging around the hotel.
I flew Qatar Air, I have never flown with them before, so a new experience, but it is supposed to be a very good airline. The first leg of the flight was to Entebbe airport in Uganda.
The flight to Entebbe quite good, a wee bit bumpy but the plane was almost empty, and we had stunning views out over Lake Victoria.
I was very interested in going to Entebbe, I still remember the events there in 1976 when Israeli commandos stormed a hi-jacked airliner and freed almost all the hostages, it was hugely dramatic at the time.
I stayed on the plane at Entebbe as the new passengers filed in on and we were full through to Doha in Qatar. I had a three hour lay over in Doha, too long – but not long enough ! It was a very expensive airport and very busy, even at 2:00 AM. There was a lot of people marching up and down the terminal, I sat and watched them for a long while until I got bored and went for a walk around. I was not tempted by the shopping though : )
The flight to London was a further five hours, I did get two seats to myself which was pretty good as again the flight was quite full. We arrived in London at 7:00 am on Thursday 4 December – and my African adventure was over – for now !
I took the tube into London and then a train up to Dartford where I was staying with my Uncle Jim again, it, it was rush hour, so no fun at all.
I did get out in the afternoon, down into town, bought a scarf and some slippers and got a hair cut. And that was pretty much it.