Once again we were off and on the road, this time with company. Amber wanted to go to lake Kivu, as did we, the Swedes said things with the DRC are kind of sketchy right now so Gisenyi was out and thus that brought Kibuye in along with Amber. After another great Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel breakfast and the superb tea, did I mention I liked the tea, we headed off to the bus station this time carrying our bags on our back while riding a moto taxi, first time we had tried that. We managed to get going with dry clothes as our laundry had dried the day before and aside from a pari of random black sock we didn’t get washed we seem to have all of our stuff. If we’re missing something we can not figure out what the mysterious 15th laundry item might be instead of the black socks.
We took three motos of course and headed off back across town to the bus station we briefly saw when we made it into town. Lindsay’s moto was apparently peppier and took off ahead of us which was fine until my guy ran out of gas halfway there. There was nothing I could do about that so I paid him something and he flagged down another guy that I hopped on. Amber’s moto was behind me so she stopped with me but since Lindsay’s was ahead of us they had no idea we stopped and kept going. I knew that was going to be a problem. This is what Lindsay wrote about it:
My moto took off ahead of the others and arrived at one spot, we waited for the others as Ryan had all the money to pay my moto. When they didn’t show up, my moto took me around to the other side. When they still didn’t come he took me yet another qay, getting off the bike and gesturing for me to follow him into the “station” (really a big lot with a whole lot of cars, vans, buses, and a shitload of motos). Luckily at this point we came around the corner and found Ryan & Amber who had apparently just found each other. Ryan paid my moto and I thanked him for helping me find my friends.
I, Ryan, saw it from the other side. Amber and I arrived at the bus station and the motos dropped us off up on a curb by one of the giant billboards, which was one of the gathering places for motos. One of the places out of many and Lindsay was no where to be seen. At this point I was a tad worried even though every Rwandan thus far has been amazingly friendly, kind, and helpful. Amber and I scanned the street seeing a whole lot of black people but not a single white person and Lindsay is a very white person not to mention her backpack had a giant cardboard tube with a painting in it attached to the side so that it looked like she was carrying around a flag pole all the time. At this point Amber and I split up walking seperate directions around the block, into the actual station parking lot and looking everywhere we could. It didn’t work, we came almost back to each other having seen nothing. I decided to go another way and at that moment I saw Lindsay on the street out of the corner of my eye then she dissapeared into the station chaos. I ran around, there was a lot of stuff between her and I, and into the station where all 3 of us managed to find each other at just about the same time. This whole procedure took about 10 minutes of wandering. I then explained the gas issue and we comisirated about how easy it is to get lost in all of the motos and people.
We all walked around trying to find a sign/bus that said Kibuye. We were not succesful. Eventually after asking for directions we were led to an office, Impala, that went to Kibuye but used a different name for the city. Lindsay’s french again came in handy as we found out the next mini bus didn’t leave for 1.5 hours. We did a little more sleuthing outside and Amber discovered another company, Capital Express, went there as well. They were of course on the other side of the station so we walked across the traffic again and found their office. They were leaving in .5 hour, which in Rwanda is actually when you’re leaving, so we bought tickets and went to wait for the bus where we were directed.
While waiting a big coach bus pulled in full of people covered in blue and white and singing – turns out a football game is on today and this is apparently part of the cheering comittee driving around reving people up as they head to the game. Turns out this bus followed us for 1.5 hours on our trip so we heard them singing, blowing those annoying plastic horn things, and generally having a good time, they never got tired. The ride for us was a little squished with our bags, but still quite comfortable as Rwanda has the big mini buses as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. The drive though was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Rwanda is a country of hills quite literally. That meant nice slow trips up the hill checking out the scenery and death defying decents down the well paved roads but with sheer drop offs to the valleys below. Hugging the inside of the road is no better as the rain ditch is 5 feet deep and made entirely of stone, enough that it would mostly swallow any vehicle ditching into it. We just had to put faith in the driver that he has done this a ton before and would not kill us. HOWEVER, it did cross my mind that if the brakes didn’t work just for a second we were toast.
Just after arriving into Kibuye, 2:45 later, we took 3 motos up to Jome St. Jean, a church run hotel situated on top of a hill overlooking the lake. What an amazing view. There are hills splitting off in all directions and the lake inlets below you and you’re staying in this old stone building that must have been a convent once upon a time. I counted 17 distinct hill outlines that I could see when admiring the view later that night. Lindsay and I found a very nice doubles room with our own seperate view and looked forward to enjoying a nice bed and our own ensuite again, quite a treat and worth the extra little splurge on room cost. After conferring with the recpetionst fellow we took 3 motos back into town to lunch at a place that he instructed the drivers to take us to as we wanted something local. They took a really long way to get there. We later discovered that the road around this little peninsula we’re staying on is one way and our hotel is like 5 % into the road. The trip however is awesome and looks that much better on the back of a moto. Truly a relaxing lake paradise and I will not forget that moto ride for a long time to come, I was tempted to have him stop every 100 metres so I could take a picture, I resisted though.
So lunch, we made it back to “town” which is a very small mainstreet that then moves off up a hill into residental houses and churches, etc. Just down a ramp and sort of under one of the building was the little cafe where we had self serve buffet again. It was essentially exactly the same as in Kigali; rice, beans, spaghetti pasta,potatoes, fries, one green veggie, plantain, and one meat with a tasty sauce. We enjoyed our meal while being stared at by the locals – apparently there are not a lot of white folk coming to eat buffet. When it came time to pay, which was dirt cheap, we got our change and discovered a new coin we hadn’t seen yet, it was a 10 which is very small when 600 or so equal a dollar. We tried to ask in english what other denominations the coins came in but she thought we were wanting change for the 10 and it all got confusing. Then after prodding Lindsay to use french she did and we discovered that the women spoke perfect french and we got a little info session on what the coins of Rwanda are. Turns out they even have a 1 franc, but are only used by banks, why they use them at all I’m not sure since a bottle of water costs 700 RFR.
There was a little internet cafe across the street, two computers in a small hot cubicle of a room, so we used them to see if we could plan our trip into Uganda. We were now going to go to Murchison falls instead of Queen Elizabeth Park so we needed to find out who ran the tours and how much and whether we could get in on one going. We sent off a few emails in that regard and moved on to see the rest of town and the village. For us this entailed walking down the road towards the lake which we had earlier driven up with the motos. We happened upon a psuedo market in a building along the way so we stopped to look around, Amber needed shampoo anyways. While there we saw one kid pulling his younger brother in a cardboard box with a rope, looked like a lot of fun. Amber asked if she could take a picture and the mom yelled no no no no then after a 10 second pause asked fore money money money. That was dissapointing and the first time encountering that in Rwanda, after having that happen all the time in Tanzania. We did not pay the women and were a little offended at the forcefullness of her no and then eagerness to exploit her children for a few coins.
Along the rest of our walk there were a lot of fields filled with different crops, some looked like corn, we’re not sure. Passed a school and a church that sounded like it was having choir practice. They were very good and we were tempted to go in but didn’t. Eventually we finally hit water and the weird looking boats that we had seen on our moto ride that we wanted to see again. Found a path winding towards the beach area and a gazebo that looked under construction but fairly nice. As we were taking pictures and walking farther into the “beach” area some man started yelling at us. We are still not sure what he said. It started out feeling like we weren’t supposed to be walking on the beach, which looked like public land, but then he seemed to gesture for us to come to the gazebo and look from there, it was weird and we just ended up leaving after a few quick pictures. The boats we had come to look at are an intersting version of an outrigger canoe, but with giant stabalizers and used for fishing. I’m sure they have a real name, someone seeing the pictures can let me know.
It was getting towards supper time so we all headed back to the main road in hopes of finding some motos back to the hostel. This, as it turns out, is not Kigali so getting a moto was harder as we were on a lonely country road. Eventually two came by on the big one way circuit and the girls hopped on and took off. I, along with a full backpack, waited for the next one to come. It did and after a failed attempt at describing where I wanted to go and saying Home St. Jean a million times a passerby stopped and we went through the same description again. Still nothing. Then I said Home St. Jean with a slightly different accent and they both were like, ohhhh Home St. Jean. I’m thinking yes, I’ve been saying that for 5 minutes. Needless to say the guy got me where I needed to go only about 5 minutes or so behind the girls.
Back at the lovely castle like hotel we sat out on the deck and watched the sunset while having drinks. I had bought a bottle of Ugandan Waragi from the bar and some cokes. I was sure the woman had under charged me for this bottle as even by african standards it seemed way too cheap. Later in the night we left the bottle at the dinner table as I didn’t want her to get in trouble for selling me a bottle for the price of a few shots. (Turns out I was wrong and the liquor is stupidly cheap, and the waitress returned it to Amber after we went to bed and we ended up getting it back again). So we sat and watched the light dip behind the thousand hills into the lake and had a nice relaxing time.
The relaxing was good but drinks were probably not a good idea for myself as it turns out I got sick today. I felt something in my throat on the bus trip out here and by the time we were walking around in the afternoon I had a full blown cold. At least it was only the flu and not a stomach problem which I have been dreading happening on this trip. I’ve got a few rolls of toilet paper I have now started using for tissue and I’m going to attempt to sleep it off tonight. The plan was to head to Uganda tomorrow, but if I’m not feeling well we have a couple of days we can steal from other parts of the trip in order to recover a bit.
The power was out so as the sun set it got pretty dark and the locals who had come to the restaurant/bar to watch the football game were not impressed and ended up coming out onto the deck dissapointed. After an hour or so the power did come back on and Lindsay and I headed into the restaurant to get some food. I got fish and Lindsay had spaghetti. Fish was quite expensive, and a lot of work to eat, but quite tasty. I figured I had to try a local fish dish since we were on the lake that it was coming from. Amber meandered in after a bit and convinced the workers to turn the tv to South African rugby and she was a happy camper for the night, her team even pulling an upset and winning at the end. Lindsay and I headed to our nice little room and I suggested showering but we were both exhuasted and me now sick so we just slept. We’ll get up tomorrow and see how I”m feeling and decide whether to stay or to go. Amber is staying and hopefully we’ll see here again in Kampala, Uganda in a week or so if we don’t stay an extra day here.
Ensuite toilet good, if needing some flushing work…