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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 04 Apr 2009

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

MapJambo! I finally have time to sit down and catch up on some typing. Writing this Blog is becoming somewhat of a challenge for many reasons. 1. The lack of time is a problem; I usually end up working on this late at night and it’s hard to be creative and witty when you’re tired. 2. A lot of you have read my other Blogs but many haven’t. So do I bore some of you with details that you’ve already read or omit them which might confuse the newbies?
3. With so many different people reading this I run into the problem of offending someone with my descriptions of food, customs, etc. 4. Also my travel mates might read this so I can’t complain about anyone and can’t embellish stories to make an otherwise boring day sound more interesting or adventurous. Do you see my dilemma?
Anyway, I’m sure some of you are wondering about our overweight luggage and how that worked out. Thanks to the generosity of our child sponsors and those of you who donated items for me to bring, I ended up with 280 lbs of luggage myself. We booked in at the airport as a group and managed to talk fast and confuse the staff there enough that they agreed to only charge us $150 for one of what they thought were two extra bags. They didn’t realize that we had more than two over our limit and never considered the weight of any of them. We patted ourselves on the back while we calculated all of the money we saved.
The flight to Amsterdam went well enough, good movies and good wine. We arrived there around noon on Thursday and it only took us minutes to loose one of our group members (you know who you are) who had to go through customs before she could rejoin us. While waiting for her to return, we planned our excursion into the city, grabbed her then headed out back through customs.
We wandered around Amsterdam for the afternoon; some of us in a daze from lack of sleep. We were a little divided about what to do, Liz said she wanted to do something cultural (museums) and Pola and I wanted to check out the red light district and see where the drug stores were….it’s Amsterdam so I mean ‘Drug’ stores. We didn’t do much of either but did manage to eat more.
When you travel abroad, you always seem to meet the most interesting people. On the next leg of our journey I sat with a girl from Kenya who has been working as a nurse in Germany for the last 10 years and Michael who is from Botswana and works all over the world for the United Nations. The three of us had some great discussions about Africa and solved many of the world’s problems. They eventually dozed off, like everyone else on the plane and I sat there pinned in by the window suffering from leg cramps and a full bladder. The TV never did work on this plane, which made for a long night. I amused myself by staring out the window, on this perfectly clear night, and tried to identify the cities of Egypt and Ethiopia below us by using the flight route map on the screen. We landed in Nairobi at 6am for our 6hour layover. Pola and I thought a nice cold beer would taste great and we really wanted to say “Mbili Kili tafadhili” (Two beer please.) It was only 7am but I looked at my watch and pointed out that it was 9pm in BC so, despite the looks, (and they were from our fellow travellers,) we went ahead. Beer was, after all, cheaper than water at the airport.
We carried on to Kigali, Rwanda arriving at noon on Friday. By now we’d been wearing our clothes for two days and smelled like it I’m sure. Lucky for us many Africans don’t use deodorant so no one noticed us.
After settling in at Chez Lando, (feels like home!) and going for a walk we met up and had dinner with Philip, a Kenyan man from World Vision. I’ve spoken to him on the phone during conference calls but we’ve never met. We were all exhausted but had a great dinner with conversation that was interesting enough to keep most of us awake. I, of course, didn’t go right to sleep after that but instead fought with the internet as I reported in my previous Blog.
Today, (Sat) we were picked up by Wellars, our driver and ran a few errands. When we were finished I suggested to him that we should head to Franklin’s. Franklin said that Wellars knew English, but I re-worded my request every way I could, and we soon found ourselves checking out the prices of volleyball nets. I was planning on purchasing for some of the Kahama Schools with the ‘Walmart’ money…(thanks again for your donation.) We next ended up at the memorial site in Kigali, despite re-wording our request to go to Franklin’s every way and language possible. After calling Franklin and getting him to talk to Kellars, we headed out to Nyamata. Wow, it’s just amazing to see the transformation of this place since I was here last. We were told that Rwanda is considered the fasted developing country in the world and it shows.
We had a wonderful lunch at Franklin’s who entertained us all with his stories of courtship and marriage customs in Rwanda and then headed over to see the ‘old lady’ next door. She is just as spunky and adorable as ever and we all loved her stories and dancing. Franklin wanted us to see a new resort area that just opened near a remote place called Gashora by a businessman with a lot of foresight. Rwanda is going to be building a highway out to the brand new International Airport that is being built in two years near this area. We drove up on some roads that reminded me of 'the old days' driving around the Nyamata district and also gave the girls a small taste of what it was like before all of this developement. We returned home after dark exhausted and here I am, on this computer again after midnight.....
That’s it for today…hope you’re all well. I miss you all..some of you more than others… know who you are…..