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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 14 Jul 2012

Location: Kiagli and onward to Kahama, Rwanda

MapErin

As we tiptoe silently out into the dark at 4:30 am, we are elated to see Wellers, our new friend and driver greet us at the door to Ste. Famille Parish. It is time to say good bye to Kigali including Franklin, James, Costa, Desiree and many more. And as the sun rises over the country of a thousand hills, and we travel toward the Rwandan/Tanzanian border, it is a good time to give some reflection to all that we have experienced.

The first ride in our taxi was terrifying and I thought that perhaps we would walk everywhere, just for safety. It turns out that most of the cab drivers are very safe, competent and courteous. The same may not be said of the road and traffic conditions, but we are still alive to tell the tales, so it's all good. I did find myself contemplating my funeral while on the back of a motorcycle which was weaving and then streaking it's way to the market at 100 kms per hour, but since Brenda had forgotten to take my picture for the funeral service, I took a bike back as well. Now I am all set in case of such a situation!

The bus system in Kigali is not really all that bad, however the bus station itself is an overwhelming place to spend any amount of time. And even though we clocked a lot more hours than I would have preferred, the “big” buses were definitely preferable to the “van” style.

On Saturday we met Franklin and his lovely children in Nyamata 40 minutes south of Kigali and visited his home. He took us to the Nyamata genocide site where many of his wife's relatives rest. I appreciated Franklin telling us his story and putting a very real perspective to all of the atrocities that occurred in 1994. Later that evening there were more friends to meet, dinner and dancing at the new local disco club. A great way to enjoy the hospitality of many friends from Nyamata.

We spent 2 days with Costa, the first one driving with young people from the U.S. to the Murambi Genocide Memorial Center. This day was very solemn as they have recovered and placed many of the bodies on tables in the empty technical school rooms where they were slaughtered. It is hard to believe that this all happened in my lifetime, living my life and raising my children safely and happily in Canada.

The second day we visited Costa's friends who needed help making bricks for his new home and family. After we had worked for 3 hours, we all shared a meal of yams and beans as we listened to the HIV positive ladies share some of their stories about their lives. They are amazing women who struggle every day with the life they have been dealt, yet they come together with Costa's help to assist others in need as often as possible. Amazing.

And now we are on the long, bumpy, scary road to Kahama, Tanzania. After arguing with the bus owner/operator and bribing him with more money for our bags, we look forward with dread to the 10 hour bus ride without bathrooms, on 5 hours sleep and with every seat occupied for the duration and then some, as buckets are put down the aisles for the extra passengers!! God speed I say, and let there be not flat tires!!

Erin