The journey from Kampala to Kigali was uneventful, if by uneventful you mean we stopped several times on the way, picking up loud women and dropping them again somewhere ahead. The bus was delayed by almost two hours (this is the last time am riding Akamba), and it was not as comfortable as the one from Nairobi to Kampala. Since it was not full, the driver and conductor took it upon themselves to operate like a matatu (taxi), picking up random passengers, which means instead of riding express to the border, we stopped several times. A journey that was to take 9 hours took….14!
We stopped at Mbarara for a while, and of course long lines of passengers at the washrooms was expected. There were only two stalls for ladies and one sink at the highway motel/hotel. There’s this woman who’d made it there first, so she was washing her hands at the sink when I arrived. There were like 5 other people waiting to use that tap, from which there was a trickle of water. She proceeded to take her time…even washing her armpits in the process.
Okay, I understand, Mbarara was very hot that afternoon. But emerging from the washroom with even wetter underarms didn’t make much sense. She probably has never heard of wet wipes or deodorant. By this time, some ladies waiting to use the sink had become impatient and they left…I don’t know if they eventually found another tap elsewhere or they decided to go commando.
We were arriving at the border at 6.30 p.m., East Africa Time. (You’ll see the relevance of specifying which time zone it ahead.) I had told my boss, who’d arranged for me to be picked from the bus terminus, that I’d be arriving at 8 p.m. We reached Kigali at 9.30 p.m., and I was afraid I had made them wait for long, when I was told it was 8.30 p.m. Rwanda is one hour behind the rest of EA (except Burundi, which should be in the same time zone as Rwanda) and was glad I had told them 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
Piece of advice: you do not want to use the toilets at the border. Please don’t make me describe them.
Towards the border, the land became hillier and hillier, and though we arrived at night, I confirmed that indeed, the whole of Rwanda is hilly. It’s known as the country of a thousand hills, Olivier told me. He (chief of staff, I think that’s his title), Valerie (executive assistant to the boss) and the driver (am so bad with names) came to pick me up from the stage. They greeted me enthusiastically, took my bags, said how happy they were to see me, told me they’d expected a much bigger person and generally made me feel very welcome.
I had no problems crossing the border, but I was later informed that if you are coming to work in Rwanda, you need a work visa. Wait a minute, I thought it was not necessary for Kenyans to get visas to work in Rwanda and vice versa? Turns out you do need the work permit and I will have to apply for one at the Immigration department in Kigali.
From Kigali, we stopped at some township (did I say am bad with names?) where I had supper. It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet place, you pay and then serve yourself. I took some matoke (at least am familiar with those), vegetables and a roasted sweet potato. Fanta Orange to top it up. You think that’s too much? Nah, I wish I had a camera then. Guys (thin guys, fat guys, short guys, tall guys, short thin guys..) piled their plates up high and then topped it up with a 72CL beer (am guessing somewhere around 750ml). Rwandans bottle their beer in these huge bottles, I think you just need to have one for the night. They’re lovely people though…I could be indistinguishable from them, Oliver told me, if only I spoke Kinyarwanda. You know what they say about Rwandese women…they’re beautiful, so if Oliver thinks I look like one of them…
I’ll be working in Musanze town, 2 hours out of Kigali. The road leading here is a meander up the hills. I’m so excited to start working…got lodging at a guest house, where I should be staying for the next three months, if everything goes according to plan. The owner of the b/b guest house is a lovely lady called Elaine with these three dogs that like me, and I like them back.
That is how Tuesday morning finds me: having had breakfast, arranged my room (might put up pictures later), charged my phone, made calls and texted back home to say how am settling down, set up my speakers (only to find I forgot to bring the cable connecting comp and speaker) and having read half of “On Black Sisters’ Street”, a novel given by a friend.
Tuesday afternoon, I’ll take a walk to the offices and get introduced around. I live walking distance to the office, how cools is that?