After a gruelingly bumpy 8 hour bus ride, our first thought upon arriving in Kigali was "this is definitely not Africa". Pristine streets with not a pothole in sight nor a blade of grass out of place. The air smelt distinctly of flowers rather than car exhaust, and the chaos that I've become so accustomed to in Kampala, was nowhere to be seen in Rwanda.
First on our 'tourist to-do list' was the Genocide Memorial Museum, which amazingly managed to strike a delicate balance between beautiful and harrowing. The museum itself was extremely well set-up; the first half was primarily informative, then the rest of the exhibits were far more emotional, containing personal belongings/pictures/skulls(!) of some of the 800,000 who lost their lives in this mass slaughter. My stomach was left in knots.
*Hanging on one of the walls was a tattered Superman bed sheet, slashed and blood-stained, which was unmistakably that of a child who found himself on the wrong end of the machete.
The museum is surrounded by beautiful fountains and gardens that you pass though to get to the mass graves which are filled with close to 250,000 bodies. To this day, corpses from the genocide are still being recovered.
|"Genocide Never Again"|
From the museum we headed into town to check out Hotel des Mille Collines, now better known as Hotel Rwanda. Though we felt quite swanky sipping Rwandan beers in the immaculate five-star hotel grounds, you couldn't help but feel a little unsettled knowing that just a decade ago, thousands of people took refuge within its walls. I was hoping to see Don Cheadle sipping scotch at the bar...no such luck.
|Rwandan brewskis to take the edge off a fairly depressing day.|
With the heavy stuff out of the way, we headed out of Kigali to Lake Kivu, the largest freshwater lake in Rwanda, and one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. We camped right on the shores, with the foggy mountains of the Dem. Rep of Congo just visible across the water.
Close to our hotel was Bikini Tam Tam, a fantastic little beach bar where we partied (arguably longer than we should have) patriotically with Ugandan waragi.
|the Waragi was Martin's (horrible horrible) idea|
We fed ourselves very well in Rwanda. This is a plate of typical local food (doesn't differ too much from the grub here in Uganda). A deliciously hearty plate of avocado, beans, carrots, bell peppers, rice, and sweet potato fries...at 50cents a plate, it was a real steal.
|If you're not drooling yet, try adjusting your glasses.|
To compensate for the fact that our trip was a little low on the wildlife factor, we found the next closest thing to a photo-op with the highly sought-after Rwandan silverback gorilla. I'd like to say that this was taken after the beers or Waragi...but that would be a lie.
|Take note that I gave the best gorilla impression. Dian Fossey would be so proud.|