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    • Day 127

      When I get rich I will buy you a car

      January 21 in Rwanda ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      After Nyungwe forest I left south along a gravel road that went east past the national park, past whatI think was called the Rukarara, a supposed source of the nile. And, it being rather early before class, I was joined by schoolclasses running alongside just shouting “good morning good morning!!”, where everyone we encountered was also picked up to join the crew. This was further from the main road, and less people begged, and everyone seemed a lot happier; a really cool start to the cycling madness with thousands of meters to climb the following days.

      Had tea in some small village — some guy showed me the way, and wanted my number afterwards, and also called me later where I kind of thought “hey dude, why you calling, what’s up”, but everyone wants my number and to write me here… — with about 6 people staring at me, but then at a village where I just wanted to buy fruits and stock up on water, things just got out of hand. It turned up a notch. Let me paint the picture: I cannot get near my bike because everyone is staring at it, to pick up my water bottle I have to ask if I can please get through, and I was doing nothing out of the ordinary. Now if I were eating a mango like I do, with a knive (I think they eat the peel here), or make coffee, I can relate. But buying bananas or water? Were they inspecting my bike for electric motors maybe?

      Ok when I had coffee after the next hill, I did gather a crew around me, but they have never seen a stove, and they kept a distance =).

      The landscapes are absolutely stunning, but brutally hard and the road quickly turned to really, really rough gravel where it was more like mountainbiking… After a long descent to Kivu lake the following day — I also made camp with the military of Rwanda one night, where the translator also wanted my number afterwards,really chill guy— I used my brake so much that the pads were all but worn out to the plate. But the views of lake kivu at the campsite made up for it. (I was struggling with the new pads which were too thick the next day, so had to cycle with extra resistance the first 50 km).

      Then I had a coffeetour in the gitesi coffee washing station, which was amazing: so much knowledge on quality, varieties, processing; and we also roasted the coffee the traditional way. Check them out. also had a long talk with the guy about coming to work in europe, which they think is a lot easier than it is… But then their conditions are sometimes really poor, so I cannot blame them.

      But probably the best accompaniment on the bike I got by a 15 year old kid, who ran with me up the mountain (to his grandmother), just to have a conversation. He did ask for money, but not pushy, and explained it. He wanted to become a doctor, and said he was going to be rich, and then he would buy me a car, because why was I going by bike? And he ran with me all the way, even saying that other guys along the road were “bad people”, because they told him to get money from me. I gave him some small amount afterwards, which means a big deal to them… sadly immediately after I was greeted by other kids doing he “give money” thing.

      Ok I will wrap this one up. One more thing: my exped sleeping matt is fucked somehow and totally unusable, but I probably cannot find a replacement until Nairobi. (Yeah I have warranty but what good is that…). And I am now near volcanoes national park, where I will again spend money to go hiking and maybe see some monkeys.
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    • Day 136

      I got tired of chasing national parks

      January 30 in Rwanda ⋅ 🌩️ 16 °C

      The title calls for an explanation, I know. It is hard for me to say where to begin, but I will summarize a few observations:
      -- in Bwindi NP hiking costs 70$, plus extra for the guides, but the village next to it does not have electricity.
      -- local "pygmies" were evicted from the national park, so left without a livelihood; but as compensation their lifestyle, on the border of the national park, has been made a tourist attraction, on which profits they now depend.
      -- most locals in volcanoes NP or Bwindi (from talking) never see a gorilla, monkeys, or whatnot, you only see white tourists visiting here to spend inordinate amounts (1500$/750$) for visiting gorillas. I was the only one doing a "nature walk" which costs $70 atminimum.

      Visiting National Parks feels like a travesty to me: everything of the culture you experience is distilled, blended with what tourists will want to see, and tuned to tourists' desires. Then again, it is the only place to see any nature where there are no people everywhere (and I mean everywhere); I guess I just wanted to relax without chasing tourist attractions for a bit. I did do some birdwatching in Bwindi, where I saw around 20-30 different kinds of birds I have never seen before.

      Ok with that rambling out of the way, let's look at some nice pictures of nature here, shall we?

      I went back to Rwanda for a week, hanging out with some people I met in Musanze city. Now I am in Uganda again, again on my way to another national park.
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    • Day 129

      I just saved $1400

      January 23 in Rwanda ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

      Sorry for the clickbait: I did not want to start with gorillas or monkeys or the bumpiest car rides ever.

      Volcanoes national park is known for the gorillas and people spend $1500 here to track them and spend some time with them, and the whole activity lasts a few hours. Instead I opted for the one day hike up the volcano mount bisoke, where you can sometimes get lucky. The hike was very steep, went up to 3711 meter with a beautiful crater lake at the top (no fish), and very very muddy. Beautiful flora but did not see any fauna; until we were almost all the way back down, went suddenly two silverback gorillas came across the corner. Not threatening at all, big strong muscular apes that are very chill; and so we saved quite a bit of money by getting lucky. Ok, we did not have time to hang around them, but after having felt myself what it feels like to have people constantly stare at you, I was totally satisfied with just leaving these animals alone.

      Also very interesting was the car ride to the start, which went over huge rocks for probably two kilometres, it was just a rock garden all the way; I guess they want to give a “genuine experience”. I don’t know if it’s genuine but its an experience. And the info and websites for the park are honestly really horrible, as I had to look forever to find where to book, the answer to a whatsapp question —“please contact us over whatsapp!”—was “we make your dreams a reality. Thank you for contacting us, we make your dreams a reality” (yes that was the answer), I called a service number which took me twenty minutes to find, which insisted that booking was very easy despite my objections to the contrary (it did not make it any easier), and then on the morning itself it turned out I should have also arranged a ride to the trail start (I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know). But yeah, everything worked out in the end, and nature makes you forget all that.

      Oh, there were also like 6 porters that joined and an equal number of armed personnel against buffaloes, alongside the guide; the porters join whether you ask them or not, and if you dont give them money, they don’t get paid. Well I carried my own backpack but “mine” did help in sections, so I happily gave this guy something for the help. A shit salary nonetheless.

      I decided to take another rest day before uganda, and was stressing a lot to try to find an atm that worked. People helped me a teeny tiny bit and asked for money; I was too tired so I gave in. And then something strap which is very important for my gear got stolen from my bike, which can really stress me out. Somehow other tourists seem to carry dollars with them for payment, but I am not that organised…

      Well if things go well I am heading to uganda tomorrow: Bwindi impenetrable national park, where I can again see wildlife.
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    • Day 4

      Day 1 - Kigali to Musanze (Team Rwanda H

      May 26, 2018 in Rwanda ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

      First day of cycling and what a day! The roads are amazing and it is so clean. Today between 7am and 11am they have 'umaganda' where communities clean up - it's the last Saturday of the month. No traffic is all on the road so we have a clear run through normally busy Kigali.
      It's then the hills start and they are big and long - take a look on Strava!
      But it is beautiful- amazing. Really the photos do no justice. 64 miles 6800 ft climbing. Bike taxis racing us up hills (and often winning), shouts of Muzungo. Kiki - a team Rwanda cyclist is our mechanic and everyone knows him - he is an excellent mechanic - mended my clicky gears!
      Great company- great chats.
      Tonight Bosco - who drives one of the support vehicles told his story, about when he was young in the genocide in Burundi. Take a look at it is well worth the look.

      then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth Isaiah 58:14
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