Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Welcome to Kigali

Thus begins the first post in a mammoth catch-up.

My friend Paul arrived on Saturday. He's worked with my mum for years but takes a few months off to go travelling whenever he can. We met briefly when I was back in the UK, and I'm really excited he's taking the plunge and coming to visit.

The above picture shows how many planes were in the air when he took off. I tracked him all the way across Europe for the first hour using FlightAware, then headed to bed. 

His flight arrived 8am and Senga and I went to collect him. The lawn was manicured, the house spotless, the room made.

The hairy caterpillar removed from the hallway and dumped in the garden hedge.

Got him home with a beer for breakfast, blinking in the sunshine. It was about 12c when he left London and 26c when he arrived.

Headed out for Ethiopian at Lalibela in the evening.

We were going to start Sunday with melange at Karibu, one of my favourite daytime eateries, but when the moto turned up, there was just a large pile of rubble where it used to be. I was gutted. There's so much building work going on in Kigali, nothing is ever where you left it.

We went to Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda) instead, because of the history. Though you wouldn't know it. There's just a plaque in the car park.

Tried to get a drink and something to eat but the service was so bad that we ended up at Bourbon Coffee in the main shopping centre. 

After a brief introduction to town, we headed to Kigali memorial site for a history lesson. It's currently still the mourning period (100 days from 7 April) so the flames are lit.

Flame of Remembrance

Kwibuka - Never Again

I've been to the centre several times, but this was the first time I'd used the audioguide, which was really good. $15 - definitely worth it.

The next day we went to Habyarimana's Palace. One of my friends from GYC was working there and showed us around. The walled section where the plane crashed is now also a sanctuary for crested cranes. They are the national bird of Uganda but sometimes kept, and mistreated, as pets. The government are trying to get people to give them up. It's really lovely to watch them all strutting about. Once they recover they get released back into the wild.

Crested Crane

Decided to get all of the genocide information out of the way in the first few days, so headed off to Nyamata yesterday. This is a site about half an hour out of town. There are two parts to it. During '94 it was a church where 10,000 people were locked inside and attacked with grenades. Only seven survived. The grenade and fire damage is still visible, and there is a spot on the wall where the blood of babies' heads stains the bricks. The site now houses the remains of 45,000 genocide victims, including bones and clothes. I've borrowed these pictures from other sources.

The coffin contains the body of a woman who represents
those who were raped during the genocide

In between memorial visits, we also headed to Ivuka Arts and went for traditional ugali (foofoo) at a local café.

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