JZ's Africa Expedition 2009 travel blog


I finally arrived!! I can't believe I am in Rwanda! I would have never thought in my wildest dreams to be here!! It was very dark when I arrived so I couldn't see much other than being surround by rollong hills with tons of tiny lights glistening on the mountains. It was 80 degrees in the city! Kigali has a very small airport and when I walked out of their make-shift customs, I found my driver holding my sign. Abus greeted me! He will be my life and best friend for the next 2 weeks as he will be driving me the entire way up to Uganda and sometimes spending some 5 hours on a bumpy road together. He speaks decent English, but sometimes difficult to understand. In Rwanda they speak Rwandanese and French. Then, we came along a minor glitch. I went to exchange my cash for Rwandan Francs and they didint accept some of the bills because it was printed aprior to the year 2000...you know the love of my Chase bank...well, I asked for new bills at the teller and never double checked them. Well, they didn't give me new bills!! And, Rwanda/Uganda rarely accepts credit cards...not good!! Then, I got to our truck and Abus introduced me to another guy named Jimmy. I wasn't really sure why he was going to be riding with us but as the night went on it was evident...Abus doesn't speak the true dialect in Rwanda since he is from Kampala, Uganda and constantly has his friend interpreting for him. Everyone seemed to be out walking the streets since it's a Sat night. I really didn't feel culture shock or scared in any way driving through the city. My hotel was changed last minute as I was supposed to stay at the same hotel where all the refugees stayed at in 1990's (Hotel Rwanda movie) but it was closed for renovations. So I stayed at one of the nicer hotels in Kigali called Golden Hills Hotel ...um, that doesn't say much. I think I have a rude awakening for the "up-scale" lodges to come! They walked me up three flights of stairs (thank god the guy carried my bag) as I instantly had flashbacks struggling to carry my bag from my last trip up flights of stairs. Got into the room and it did not have air conditioning and only a fan! I didn't want to sleep with the patio doors open so its stuffy! At least the bed and sheets were in good condition! I could have easily relaxed and went to bed as it was 9pm already, but wanted to experience the african city for dinner. Abus was nice and said he would drive me to a place and pick me up rather than attempting to go solo with a cab. I brought down several restaurant names recommended in my travel book, but the hotel staff didn't know to much and it turned into an ordeal to find the place..it started pouring rain while we were winding through dark roads and had to pull over several times to ask for directions. Ha! About an hour later we got to New Cactus. Finally found it as it was a quaint open-air african hut with fabulous views of the dotted city lights, that is if it were not raining. Although the food was mainly international it was excellent. Great fillet with sauces! Also tried the Rwandian Beer Primus...a huge bottle is only 3bux. It is super cheap once you get here. It was perfect for the first night. Its an 8 hour difference here so its about midnight...time for bed!

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