02 June, 2011

Arrival - Day 1

So I've made it to Kigali where the sun is splitting the trees and it is hot! My 3 flights were fairly uneventful, had a mad dash in Amsterdam Schiphol - only because the screens were saying my gate had closed but when I got there there was still a huge queue going through, so all good. Watched a great wee film on the Amsterdam-Nairobi flight called, Benda Bilili. It was made by a French film crew following the making of an album by a Congolese orchestra of disabled people, Staff Benda Bilili - great stuff, must look out for the album, Tres Tres Fort, when I get home.

The girl sitting next to me on the plane was from Finland and at the start of a 3-month adventure in Africa taking in Zambia, Namibia and S Africa. She'd spent the last 2 months working her butt off to get money together as she'd just come home from time spent travelling in S America. Flip me, some people have the life eh? I felt like a feeble traveller on my tame wee 10-day jaunt, but hey, I'm not complaining, I'm going to make the most of this trip.

I tried to make good use of my time on the long flight by reading the French articles in the Kenya Airways in-flight magazine in a desperate bid to resurrect my extremely dormant French. Rwanda was at one time a Belgian colony and most people speak French, especially outside Kigali. You'd think a degree in European Studies would render me fluent but alas no, I never got to the point of thinking in French. I can read French fairly well even after all these years [of course as I'm 24, I've only left university recently] but speaking it is an entirely different ballgame so I think I'll be using my Irish smile to charm my way through my lack of fluency!

They call Rwanda, 'Land of a Thousand Hills', and for good reason. Rolling hills stretched into the distance all around as our plane circled to land this morning. And although it was only a 10-minute walk from my guesthouse to the city-centre this afternoon, there were two rather steep hills to climb - not so good when you're totally unfit like me and have a geriatric hip...oh and the aforementioned heat! I can barely believe I'm here, it's just a totally different world. Although I've been to Cape Town, this feels more like the real Africa. There's lots of hustle and bustle on the streets, horns tooting, moto-taxis zipping up and down, hawkers selling everything from phone cards to copies of The Economist, the quintessential African red dust coats the roads. It's all go. I've just had a humungous pizza - supposedly tomato, cheese, fish and olives. There were only 5 olives on the 8 slices and I've a feeling they'd run out of tomatoes today as they seemed to over-compensate with masses of cheese and what seemed to be tuna. It'll keep me motoring anyway and I'll just spend the rest of the day getting my bearings and get an early night.

Until tomorrow - mrilrwe (Kinyarwanda for 'goodbye', no idea how to say that one yet!)


Adam said...


Glad to hear that you're in Kigali alright. It's really weird reading all your comments and observations after only being there a few months ago. It's bringing it all back! I'm missing Kigali already.
I wouldn't worry too much about the French, as I was amazed how quickly my GCSE stuff returned and I even managed to get by on it alright. It sounds like you know a lot more than me.

Are you staying in Kigali, or are you heading on from there?

Debs Erwin said...

Great to hear from you Adam! I'm loving this place already! I'm hoping to visit Gisenyi and Kibuye when I'm here and the rest of the time I'll be in Kigali. Will you get the chance to come back again with your work?