Well hello there beautiful people, apologies for the lack of update over the weekend - I was nowhere near a computer and more importantly I was doing some serious chilling! I'll update tomorrow maybe about the trip to Gisenye and Day 4 because it was pretty darned good and I was in a stunning location but as I'm meeting up with a couple of expat friends of friends later I'll leave you with the tale of one of my most surreal and hilarious experiences of this trip.
This morning I was booked onto the 11.30am bus from Gisenyi to Kigali. Having reserved and paid for the ticket yesterday I was a wee bit miffed when the driver told me I'd have to pay extra for my bag because it didn't fit into the bus' meagre boot space (well ok, my bag is rather on the large side but then I've been carrying a few gifts for the Compassion project and my sponsor child tomorrow) but he seemed a bit grumpy so I ended up paying even though on the way to Gisenye on Saturday I hadn't had this issue. Getting everyone settled onto the bus was a bit of a bunfight, there were bags and people everywhere (it seats about 25-30 people) and I ended up in one of the 'bucket' seats - a seat in the aisle which folds up when not in use. It's also the seat directly beside the door so I was praying that the door would hold fast!
When we set off it seemed that we had a preacher on board - this guy a couple of rows behind me started giving it everything he had. I'd heard of this before - apparently there are places in Africa where preachers will travel various bus-routes simply to preach the gospel. But then there was a chorus of Amens and Hallelujahs and I realised that this guys wasn't on his own. As I looked around I noticed that many of the women sitting near me had the same red silk shirt on and many of the people on the bus were sporting a yellow and brown scarf (in my book, yellow and brown don't really go with red but then I'm not known for my fashion). Then the singing started so whether these guys were going to some gospel choir convention or what I'd no clue but it seemed like the Pentecostals were in town. If Amen and Hallelujah were said once they were said a thousand times. The next 2 hours was a full-on church service with singing and praying non-stop, along with much hand-raising and arm-waving. The singing was absolutely beautiful - I wish I could have taped it, and they were so joyful, it seemed like it all really meant something to them. There was one stage when the lady beside me got so excited and carried away that she flung her arm around me and we swayed from side to side together. If you'd been a fly on the wall you would have been in absolute stitches at the cut of me, I didn't know where to look, all I could do was grin inanely, but was rather thankful when a hairpin bend forced me to grab the door handle for balance and the lady detached herself from me. Near the start of the journey I had offered her one of my cookies and she'd given thanks for it before eating it.
By the way, this is all happening in the local lingo - Kinyarwanda - of which I only know 2 words although I can now add Jesu Christo to this repertoire, and I also recall hearing Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia getting prayed for but basically I didn't understand anything else. Then came the moment when anyone not in the choir was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, I think there was just 4 of us. Muggins of course had to go first. And then I think each of us got prayed for. After 2 hours of the journey had passed we had a pit-stop and most of the passengers got some lunch. When we got on our way again the bus seemed like more of a WI outing except with men present, everyone was having a good natter. But as we got to the outskirts of Kigali the singing got underway again, and to be honest it felt like the most natural thing in the world by this stage. It was a truly rich experience. Travelling on Belfast's Metro service just is not going to do anything for me from now on.
How do you follow that?!