KigaliOctober 30, 2019 in Rwanda ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C
Today we arrived into Rwanda, after a fairly uneventful overnight bus ride. At the border, the customs guards searched everyone's luggage for plastic bags, which are banned in Rwanda.
Unfortunately, Katie isn't feeling great, so we book into an empty dorm room at Via Via so she can recuperate. While she's napping, Chris befriends the owners new dog, Boss, which they had just taken in from the street. Boss quickly becomes attached to Chris and wants constant pets (which we happily oblige to give as he's so cute). While Boss is being fed, Chris sneaks away and heads out into the city, and is blown away.
For starters, Kigali is built on a series of hills, which means that whichever way you go, the views are great. It's also spotlessly clean- cleaner than anywhere I've ever seen. We would later find out that the entire country cleans the streets in shifts, each person allocated a different day. No-one, not even the President, is excluded. It's a great way to increase civic-participation and keep the streets clean. It does, however, mean that whenever we walk down the street with a can of drink, everyone casts a suspicious glance at it, probably thinking "they'd better recycle that!".
There is no hustle, no bustle, and you can walk the streets at night and be completely safe- there's barely any crime. It's liberating to be able to just walk the peaceful streets.
Once Katie is better, we're joined by our friends Martyn and Laura, who are travelling with us for the next month. We spend the next couple of days sorting out our plan and walking around Kigali. We participate in a walking tour led by Nyamirambo Women's Center and learn about the history of the neighbourhood and the centre, visit some local shops, and have an amazing homemade lunch. Afterwards we drink the best coffee we've ever had at Question Coffee (which, I'm sure he won't mind me saying, is a little lost on Martyn), and have Rwandan craft beer at Pilli-Pilli, watching the sun go down over the picturesque city.
We also head to the Genocide Memorial, which is a must for any visitor to the city. It's eye-opening. We knew a little about the genocide beforehand, but had no idea about the extent to which it was caused by colonialism. In fact, the museum argues that the terms Hutu and Tutsi were designed by the Belgian colonial authorities. Another section shows how the world was warned about what was going to happen, but turned a blind eye, allowing the atrocities to happen. The final part of the museum is devoted to the children who died, and each display shows a child's picture, their favourite toy, their best friend, and how they were killed. It's horrific, but it's vital to learn about Rwanda's very recent past, and how it has come to terms with it.Read more