This morning, I sauntered down through the garden to the complimentary breakfast of fruit, bread, eggs, and coffee. As I sat there sipping my coffee and reading about Kigali in my guidebook, a trio of Europeans walked in—two older gentlemen and a young lady, They were laughing and talking in English quite loudly, and I could tell from their somewhat-shabby style of dress that they were volunteers. As they ate, they talked about their upcoming trip to trek gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park in a few weeks. This is something I desperately want to do, so I walked up and introduced myself and joined their conversation. To my dismay, they told me that the Park fee had doubled just in the last month to $500—plus you must find two nights of accommodations and hire a jeep to take you on the mountain. This is wayyy out of my budget, but I listened dreamily as the woman, Katherine, described the trek. You four-wheel for a couple hours down a bumpy road and then get out and hike through the rain forest. She said you see loads of gorillas and they are often as close as 5 feet away, communicating with you through gestures and often showing off with various acrobatic feats. It sounds incredible!
The three Europeans were from Ireland, England, and Sweden, and are volunteers in an organization called VSO, which appears to be a sort of European Peace Corps. They were very kind and gave me all sorts of travel advice such as when and how much to tip, how to get around the country, and most importantly, NOT to carry the shoulder bag I have been using because it is practically begging for theft. All three had gotten mugged at some point. We hit it off extremely well. They were passing through Kigali to go a fellow volunteer’s party in Northern Rwanda, and they offered to take me into the city and show me around before they had to catch their bus.
There are three general modes of transit to get to the city—vans (buses) are the cheapest at only about 20 cents with about 14 passengers packed in. This was how I got around everywhere in South Africa and Swaziland last summer. Private taxis are the most expensive at about 4 dollars. To my delight, we jumped on the back of motorcycle taxis (which cost about a buck-fifty.) I had never been on a motorcycle before and as terrifying as it was, I loved it! I’m definitely going to copy my friend Ginger and find a boyfriend with a motorcycle when I get back to the states. That narrows the choice at W&L to zero, but I absolutely insist. We were given helmets and the volunteers assured me they were very safe, but for the most part, the taxi drove right in the center of the two-lane road, zipping between both lines of moving cars! I clung on for dear life! Once in the city center, we shopped around a bit and they pointed out important things like the Post Office, the internet café, and the fancy grocery store. I bought some gifties and cool little cloth pouch that I can store my valuables in and wear diagonally across my chest as they recommended. As I walked with them to the bus station, we exchanged numbers and they invited me to stay with them for a weekend sometime. I completely forget where they said they live, but it sounds like an adventure. We tentatively planned a white-water rafting trip on the Nile River in Uganda, which apparently is really cheap. Katherine had been before and said it was a must-do but she would never go again…hmmm.
After leaving them, I chugged a bottle of water and jumped on a motorcycle to head back to the Beausejour. Its pretty hot during the day and is also a very nice way of cooling off. I’m now sitting in the middle of the beautiful exotic flower garden out back, writing this entry. There are little striped lizards darting all over the place, and I feel quite peaceful and happy. I think blogging is a disease. I’ve written more voluntarily in the past four days than I ever have before and I’ve even begun to process thoughts like blog entries. It really is ridiculous and I bet I will have written an entire book by the time the summer is over. It gets dark here early, and as a single traveler, there really isn’t much else to do at night. Thank god for my trashy romance novel!