As we were getting in the very small elevator after breakfast, the lights went out! Fortunately, we got out before the doors closed and the power was back on almost immediately.
Our guide, Isaac, picked us up to take us to our hotel at Volcanoes National Park. The 3 hour drive took us through this beautiful hilly country. Rwanda means land of a thousand hills. It is green and beautiful. Verne and I both feel it is a lot like Brazil. If Africa and South America were once attached, it sure show when comparing the two countries.
The houses are built on the hillside and every bit do land is used for farming. No machines are used. People are using large hoes. Road work is being done by hand. We are traveling a well paved road that is only used by tourist traffic and trucks. There are no other cars on the road, people are walking, walking, walking or riding bicycles.
Walking with babies on their backs and baskets on their heads, even young children are carrying things on their heads.
Children are waving at us as we go by, or giving us a thumbs up...and everyone of them is smiling! As we stop to take pictures, a boy asked Ali if she wanted to take his picture. Peter gave a coin to one of the girls walking down the road with her sister and mother, she immediately gave it to her mother. People are dressed in native attire as well as some in western clothing. Many children are in school uniforms. There are a few men in business suits.
Crops are grown for personal use as well as sold at the local market twice a week, none is exported. They grow cabbage, corn, pineapple, sugar cane, Lima beans, papaya and potatoes. Goats seem to be the farm animal of choice.
We made a pit stop and sampled the local banana beer/wine. I found it disgusting, Verne liked it.
Kigali is reported to be the cleanest city in Africa and it is very clean. It has a population of about 1.5 million; Rwanda's population is about 11 million.
Families have 7-9 children. Isaac said the government is trying to pass a law to limit children to 3.
We have traveled through several small towns/villages to our final destination. We have seen all types of houses...brick, cement, mud, thatched. Buildings in the market areas are painted bright colors.
The area we are in grow lots of potatoes. We have seen people carrying large sacks (they must weigh 50#) on their heads.
Our hotel, the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, has a beautiful view of the volcanoes. We each check into our large cottage with the huge bathroom. The cottage s definitely bigger than most of the houses we have seen; the bathroom is even bigger than some of them! We have cooled off. Having come from the heat of Zimbabwe to here, the temps of 50-60 feel cold! No TV, no phones, no Internet, no central heat (space heart, fireplace, and hot water bottle for your bed at night. Generator for electricity is shut off 2-5pm and 10pm-5am.
Peter and Ali said they are going to town and I decide to go with them. Ali and Verne heard that we would get a ride to town as the drive from the hotel to the main road is rocky. I heard them say they would have a guide take us into town and to be careful as you don't want to hurt your ankle before the gorilla trek in the morning.
No ride. Our guide, Alex, took us on a walking tour. We were greeted by many children with "Hello, Good Morning!" Ali kept saying it's afternoon! Some children go to school in the morning, others in the afternoon. I think the limited English they learn is probably greeting the teacher in the morning.
We stopped at the school and talked with two teachers, one was an English teacher, the other a language teacher. The leader (principal) showed up and wanted to know what we wanted to see. Apparently she thought we were some kind of officials, when she found out we weren't, we didn't have to sign her book!
We arrived in town with ores from Verne and Gary to get Tonic water. The town/village is really neither. We visit the "Big" Boutique...beans, rice, water, soda pop ( no diet coke, no potato chips and no tonic water), and other miscellaneous items.
Whilst waiting for Peter to use the facilities, Ali and I were approached by two young men who wanted to know our names. One really wanted to be Ali's friend because she had a computer!
Prior to dinner we went to the dancing show. It consisted of young boys and girls, playing the drums, singing native songs and dancing. Dancing a barefoot and jumping into the air and landing on the cement. One boy kept saying "Very good" when he was done!
I want to end this journal by letting you know our first stop of the day was at the Genocide Museum, the memorial and burial ground of many of the remains from the genocide of 1994. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tusis were killed by the Hutu in 100 days. Now all villages and towns have their own Genocide Memorial. I watched Hotel Rwanda before coming here, now have a better idea of what it is about and need to watch it again.
Tomorrow we have a very early morning for our gorilla trek.