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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2012

Location: Kigali and Muhanga, Rwanda


Today we set off for Muhanga at eight thirty, to catch the nine AM bus. The five minute taxi ride to the bus station cost 2500 RWF, which is about five dollars. The hour long bus ride only cost 900 RWF, which is around $1.25. Everywhere we have travelled so far has such a fantastic view, it kind of all looks the same when it comes to the buildings – so we could just drive around in circles for a few hours and I wouldn’t really notice. Since this bus was actually a bus, not a van, we all fit comfortably and could breathe and move around. We met Costa at the Muhunga Bus stop and waited around for a bit for Costa to get something for his laptop. What I love the most about Rwanda is the time. ‘Rwandan time’ is the best thing ever. Apart from the crazy motorbike people, nobody is in that big of a rush to get anywhere. So a five minute wait could actually be half an hour or an hour long bus ride will usually turn into an hour and a half.
We got to meet 12 people from the organization GO, and they were all very lovely and welcoming. Costa told us that today we were going to go to a Genocide Memorial Site that was an hour and a half away. Nobody thought anything of the long ride there until we got into the bus. Now this bus wasn’t a bus, it was a van. 19 people piled into a van made for 14 at the most. For me, the ride wasn’t that bad because I sat up at the front next to the wall and Sheena. We went down a hill and I actually thought we were going to tip over and die. There was no doubt about it, we were going to roll off the cliff side and be dead. There were long cracks in the road that were probably about two feet deep – one wheel in that crack and that would be that. Everyone was leaning in the opposite direction and I’m sure everyone was silently praying. Sheena turned to me and said she enjoyed it since she goes 4x4ing back in Canada. To each their own.
We arrived at the beautiful building that had been military barracks for the French before the Genocide. In 1994 the victims that died here where thrown into mass graves and in 1995 some of the bodies were taken out and covered in Lime to preserve their bodies. The tour guide who spoke very little English with a very strong accent led us to rows of brick rooms that contained the preserved bodies. There were 25 rooms and each room had wooden tables covered in the bodies, some stacked on top of each other with their limbs tangled around one another. This sight was very hard to take in and see. Actual people that died in the Genocide lying in a room not behind glass... I could literally touch them. I didn’t touch them of course, but some of their feet were sticking out enough that you had to look where you were going in order to not bump them. Some rooms were just kids, or just adults. Some skulls had what I thought was mold, but was actually still pieces of hair. The bodies were so detailed you could see some of the toes perfectly; you could see where the nails used to be. A few of the bodies still had shirts on them and some had their arms sticking up towards the sky. So real, so terrible. The French soldiers that stayed at this site during the genocide actually taught the Hutu’s how to fight and kill. The guide showed us where the mass graves were and told us that after the graves were made and covered up, the soldiers used that land to play volleyball... even when the graves were still open, they played next to them.
After going to that site we took the hour and a half ride back to Muhanga. We then went to a motel and ate a plate of fries and some questionable meat. Then we took the bus back to Kigali and I went straight to bed.
Tomorrow we’re going back to Muhanga to make mud bricks.