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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 07 Jul 2012

Location: Kigali/Nyamata, Rwanda

MapMary's Post

Be aware that this post has some very upsetting facts about the Genocide, if you don’t want to read it you can just read the first four paragraphs.

Today started off with a half hour walk down a very busy and bustling street. The road was packed and the sidewalks too. As we walked I could see such a huge difference from the left side of the street to the right. The left side was all on a small hill of red dirt. There were the children playing in the dirt and the parents working around them. Their houses were made of mud or a very cheap concrete with mud square tiles on the roof. There were holes in the walls and dents in the ground, with trees and bushes scattered around them.
The right side of the road was a whole different place. The buildings were at least two stories high with lots of people and cars in front. The buildings were all businesses and the most popular out of them all are Tigo and MTN. Still, through the spaces between buildings you could still see what modern Kigali call the slums. There again were the uneven and mud houses. We walked over a bridge and the water underneath was grey and the smell hinted that most of the content of that river wasn’t actually water.
As we arrived at the ‘Bus Depot’, I observed that the buses were the small white vans we had seen before. We walked through a giant open area crammed with people, trying to find a ‘bus’ to take us Nyamata. We walked into a small room with a desk and a sign saying ‘Nyamata’, so luckily it wasn’t that hard to find. It only cost 600 RWF each for the bus ticket which is $1.00 Canadian. When we sat in the bus and waited to leave, Brenda told us they don’t leave until the whole van was full. Twenty minutes later and the van filled with 19 people, we set off. I sat up at the front with Sheena right next to the window because we both get car sick very easily. The young man next to Sheena asked her if she knew Justin Bieber (I have heard a bunch of people listening to ‘Boyfriend’, most of them grown men which makes me smile!). It took 30 minutes to get to Nyamata and on the way we saw a swamp and I was lucky enough to see a crane or an Inyange –which is a brand of water here that is named after the crane.

Arriving in Nyamata, I fell in love. It’s beautiful! There is a main road with shops on either side. There was a man selling a bucket of hard-boiled eggs and was also carrying around a clear eye-dropper with an orange liquid in that we later discovered was their hot sauce. We walked to the Red Lion Pub which was very interesting. There was a room with two pool tables, and then we walked through to a grassy field with two swings and a slide. The waiters would run around the field with the plastic tables and chairs to sit us in the shade as fast as possible. I had a plate of fries for lunch and they were really good.

Franklin took us to an old church that Tutsi’s went to be protected during the Genocide. The front gate of the church had been forced open where the Hutu’s forced open the doors. The people inside the church tried to protect themselves by fighting back but the intruders got inside and not many people survived. It was very hard to see an actual building with actual items that were used in the Genocide. The roof of the church had millions of small holes in it from all of the grenades and bullets. There were thousands of items of clothing lining the pews of the church. At the front was a table with prayer beads and identification cards belonging to the victims killed. The table cloth covering the table was originally white but turned brownish red from the blood. There was a brick wall stained with blood from where the children and babies had been thrown against and killed. There is a room in the church with a glass cases filled with bones and skulls. Since most victims were killed with machetes, the skulls had very big cracks in them - or big holes from where they had been struck by other objects. The church changed me and I hope never to forget anything I saw there, even though the things I saw were horrible. It’s hard to think anyone over the age of 18 was somehow a part of the genocide.
Silently we drove back to the pub. There were three cute kids that stood at the gate of the pub just staring, smiling and waving. Franklins friends and family are such wonderfully nice people I really hope I’ll see them again soon. I used my first squat toilet at that pub and I will not say anymore about that. My mother, Heiki and I took a taxi home around nine and once back at the hostel, I instantly fell asleep. It was a busy, impactful day.