Thursday, February 07, 2008

Back in Rwanda

I successfully arranged the shipping (or rather, air-freighting) of my baggage out of Kigali on Monday morning - something that I wouldn't dream of trying from Congo! That gives you a hint of the difference between the two countries. In Rwanda things generally function and they function without the need for any "palm greasing". There's a lot to be said for that. Rwanda is still Africa, so of course service can be slow, there's an occasional power outage, and people try to sell me phone cards and maps of Africa on the street. But the streets are amazingly clean, there's a new supermarket and coffee bar with wireless internet in Kigali, and a general air of purpose to the people moving around the streets.

Monday afternoon was spent horizontal, recovering from earthquake shock and the long drive. Monday evening enjoyed dinner out with former colleagues from Concern in a new Chinese restaurant - delicious food, and what a superb addition to the choice of restaurants in Kigali! On Wednesday morning I took the Volcano bus down to Butare, where I used to work. Even Butare has changed: buildings along the main street have a new coat of paint, new businesses are open, an old decrepit building in the centre of town has been totally renovated and now houses a training centre for the Rwanda Revenue Authority (no more cheating on taxes!). Other things remain the same: the street children are still there begging from passers-by, the Ibis Hotel still caters to a surprising number of foreign visitors on the covered terrace, the tall, carefully dressed arrogant young university students stroll along the main street.

This afternoon I'll take a mini-bus up to Gikongoro to stay the night with a Dutch friend first met here in 2003, and then tomorrow I'll head back to Kigali, via Butare, for a weekend seeing friends.

1 comment:

Paradise Driver said...

When do you arrive in Oz?

And where to after that?

Enjoy your R&R.