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Rwanda Review

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Best Experience: Children smiling & yelling “MZUNGU!!!!” at us. Mzungu=white.
Worst Experience: Arriving in Kigali and the money situation being difficult.
Best Acommodation: Paradise Malhide Motel in Gisenyi
Worst Accomodation: Castel Hotel (although it wasn’t really that bad)
Best Food: Fried Tilapia & goat meat in Ruhengeri
Worst Food: Primus Beer (I’ll get in more detail later!) Grilled chicken in Gisenyi
Scariest Moment: “stomach attack” on bus ride from Kigali to Ruhengeri as well as extremely dangerous and fast bus driver from Gisneyi to Kigali
Best Scenery: Volcanos National Park, misty volcanos.

DR Congo and Goma

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Well, this will be the first time I have ignored U.S. travel warnings and decided to try out something a little off the beaten path. Daisy and I hired a guide from Goma to take us around town. We crossed the border of Rwanda into the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was nice to have a driver and it made the whole situation less overwhelming. We arrived at immigration and after a 30 minute process we were through. You don’t realize how beautiful and clean Rwanda is until you step into DR Congo. In fact, we found out the other day that Rwanda has a national cleaning day the 3rd Saturday of every month. The country is seriously SPOTLESS.

The driver and guide finished their tour a few minutes ago after we had lunch in Goma. The town lies on the coast of Lake Kivu and is not really much to look at. Like I said, there is a stark contrast between Gisenyi on the Rwanda side and Goma on the Congo side. In 2002 the volcano Nyiragongo erupted and swallowed half of the city. We went past the airport which had lava in portions of it as well as a trip to the base of the volcano. It is one of the most active volcanos on the planet and scientists expect an eruption again in the near future. Luckily the lava moves so slowly here that if it did, people have a chance to evacuate. The same can’t be said for there homes. It is amazing how the city has recovered though. They actually use the lava to their advantage and build fences around their homes so even though it doesn’t really look appealing to the eye… they make due.

The driver then took us about 4 miles out of town to Green Lake which is a beautiful GREEN LAKE (go figure!) After that we got to see a cathedral that was completely ruined due to the lava flow.

This is the first country I have been in where the only foreigners you see are humanitarian workers. We past several U.N. trucks with peacekeepers on the bed. They stand out due to their bright blue helmets. We saw UNICEF, W.H.O. and other humanitarian vehicles. On the drive out to the lake and volcano we saw a few refugee camps. Specifically one that housed many Rwandan refugees during the genocide in 1994.

We were told at the border that photos can not be taken but the guide said it would be no problem as long as it wasn’t of sensitive locations like airports,bridges,military or government buildings.

I have had no sense of danger during our day here but of course that is only 1 day. The US embassy advises against all but essential travel to the portion of Congo that we are in but I have done a lot of research on Goma itself and it is generally safe. The situation can change quickly so we aren’t spending the night. It would be very tempting to go back to the volcano and attempt summit it. Apparently at night you can see the glow from the lava.

I hope to return to DR Congo someday because there is a lot to see. The Congo River is a long way from here but the war and fighting can breakout at any time so there it is not possible to enter any further into the country. Some day… it is a dream of mine to actually be on the banks of the Congo River.

I guess I will have to wait. Untill then,this was a nice taste of an untapped nation. Luckily they held their first free elections in October and things look like they are going to improve.

We are still in Goma now and will be heading back to our hotel back in Rwanda shortly. Tomorrow is our last full day. I’m not sure if we are going to visit the orphanage or not because both of us need to go to the US Embassy to find out about adding more passport pages.

The trek

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Another photo of the trek. This is before entering the dense rainforest prior to visiting the gorillas.

Rwanda and the genocide

Monday, January 22nd, 2007
It has been a few days. Up until yesterday there wasn't much to write about. Daisy and I have spent the last couple of days trying to get our stuff straight for the rest of the trip in Rwanda. ... [Continue reading this entry]