Up at 4:10am and on the road to the airport by 5:00am. Nice new plane and the 'holding' area was jammed and yet the flight had few on it...so we were on our way by 8:15am. We are now only 8 hours different than home. Our guides from Eagle Ride (Jimmy and Jean-Marie) met us us after we had done the Rwanda two-step tango to pay our $30 entry fee and clear customs. What a different place than anything else we have seen. Kigali has a population of 1.4 million and Rwanda has 12 million. The area is half the size of Nova Scotia. This is a very clean city. It is lush and green and with all the flowers has a tropical feel to it. We saw many people walking as it is Sunday and 60% of the population are Christians. Few Muslims here as compared to Tanzania and Kenya.
We stopped at Bourbon Coffee and for many it was like a Starbucks fix...very similar to home. We continued on for our drive to the Gorilla Mountain View Lodge. It was such an interesting drive as we climbed and climbed up to the Lodge. It sits at about 2300 meters. The landscape is well used and cared for. The crops go all up the side of very steep hills and there is a variety of products from potatoes (irish-our kind, and sweet), beans, pineapple, bananas and so much more. It is green , green, green here. Very few have cars because of the expense, so the majority walk or ride bikes. There are motorbike taxis that are part of an association and each have two helmets and wear a number.
So the walking and biking is usually the only way to transport their goods. We saw young men (in very good shape) riding and pushing their bikes up the steep roads with up to 150 kilos of potatoes and other goods. Women and men carrying sticks and heavy baskets of bananas on their heads. They have the most beautiful posture...and now I know why...it is the only way to keep it from falling off your head. They have banana beer here that is 16% and you drink it like a shooter...never did try any..I can't even do tequial..haha.
The roads were in excellent condition, the trick was avoiding the walkers, bikers and children who would jump out to wave and smile and say hello.
I just felt this is an area of hard working people who are proud of their life. The produce areas were a;; immacualtely hoed and weeded.
There are no active volcanoes, and we had some beautiful panoramic views as we climbed up.
The Rwandan people have no tribes since the genocide. They are all "rwandans' and very proud of what they have accomplished. The crime rate is very low and education is important. Their official language is not Swahili, but I couldn't quite catch the name(Iwill check on this). The children go to school from age 7 and english is now the language they are taught in. It used to be French. They can take french in their last 3 years and must have both French and English to go to university.It was nice to see so many dressed up and carrying their bibles. Their smiles are contagious!
Those not in traditional dress, usually the teens wore western cloths that sported logos from resort areas like Cancun plus Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. There were vendors along the way selling second hand clothing.Even on Sunday there were many markets and a bustle and liveliness.
Got to the lodge...now I'm roughing it..haha. You need to time your showers and having electricity around their generator hours. Heat was a small fireplace in teh room and when someone lit it (that was a bit of a trick) it would take the dampness away. I never thought I would need so many layers in Africa and fell so chilled...and you guys were concerned about me birning..too funny!
Went to a cultural visit for the afternoon and even though it was pouring rain the enthusiasm was uplifting.I even pulled a bow and arrow and no injuries...to anyone.
No internet so we hung around the main area where they had the fireplace roaring. Tomorrow is our first gorilla trek. What excitement!