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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Friday, 06 Jul 2012

Location: Kigali, Rwanda


Today was a day for our bodies to catch up from jet lag and our minds to realize how many differences there are here.

When I thought of being in a city like Kigali, I imagined it to smell of body odor where ever we went. That was not the case and usually if I did smell sweat, it was my own…so nice! The air in Kigali is thick and polluted with all of the fumes from the motorbikes, taxis and cars that have either left hand sided drivers or right. I guess you’re get what you’re given when it comes to Vehicles.

We took a taxi and two motorbikes to the Kigali memorial for the Rwanda genocide. It was estimated that a quarter of a million bodies had been buried in mass graves there. There were baskets with flowers with the words ‘Rwanda genocide, Never Again’. Pretty surreal stuff to see after learning about it in school. The memorial building was set up so you could walk through and read about everything. It was hard to see pictures of dead children and adults taken during the genocide – but even harder to watch a class of young students walking through the place looking at the pictures with no expression on their faces – showing that they had seen things like this before. Heart breaking. Nobody deserves to see or experience anything like that in their lives, ever. There was a children’s memorial room, very plain and not much writing. Just 20 or o pictures of children with their names, along with their favorite colors, the names of their best friends and their last words. That was where most people started to cry.

The memorial was beautiful with a fountain at the front where there is a center piece that they light from April till July to remember those who lost their lives. Surrounding the fountain were two statue elephants, symbolizing that those who did die will never be forgotten.

I am a bit of a party pooper in regards to the motorbikes being used as cheap transportation. Being sick and light headed already – I did not want to risk the chance of me falling off the back if I passed out. So three of us took a taxi and Sheena and Brenda were brave and took the motorbikes.

We went to a market it was everything I thought it would be and more. We shuffled into a giant room where the ceilings were extremely high and it was filled with rows and rows of shelving units where everyone sells their things. I swear there was more people in that market than people living in the Okanagan, and obviously we stuck out like sore thumbs… or like five white girls in Rwanda. Everyone was trying to call us over to look at their wonderful goods. After thirty seconds of being in that market I realized they were all selling the same things. It reminded me of when someone tells me a story I’ve already heard a few times before… you just gotta smile and nod. The part of the market we were in basically only sold baskets, wooden cutlery, some wooden or ornaments of African animals, baby dolls and … that’s really it. I will never forget it.

The hostel beds are just what I expected, thin foamy stuff on top of wood with a lumpy pillow. Sleeping with a mosquito net is an interesting experience. The net has lots of rips in it mind you, so there may not be a point to it. After a long day in the sun I am a little red, but since there is so much smog between me and the sun, I didn’t get burnt to a crisp like I usually do in the sunny Okanagan.

Tomorrow includes two long ‘bus’ rides in a small van. Oh joy!