Here in Rwanda at last! As the small commuter plane dipped below the cloud-line, I leaned over the window seat and craned my neck to catch a glimpse of the rolling hills below. Almost all of the land seems to be farmed, and from the sky, it looks like a green madras Hobbit shire. Rwanda truly is the ‘land of a thousand hills.’ As beautiful as the vista was, it was chilling to think, as we landed, that the genocide was started 13 years ago by the president’s plane being shot from the sky on this very strip of air.
I was greeted at the airport by a young man named Leonce—who is a trusted taxi driver/friend of Robin and John, and his friend, Denison. Leonce spoke English, but Denison only spoke French, so I was finally forced to pull out some of my third-grade reading level French and stumble through the traditional greetings. We changed some money, put some minutes on my SIM card, and headed over to the hotel I’ll be staying in while in Kigali—Beausejour. Once again, I have nice single room with a self-contained bathroom and a double bed. There’s also a mosquito net, to my extreme relief! After settling in, I wandered up to the desk to chat with the nice guy behind it about where I should walk for dinner. He only speaks Kinyarwanda and French, so there was a lot of comic gesturing. He finally got the directions across, and as I turned to leave, I remembered that I wanted to find a book to read at night. I flapped my hands like an open book and said, “Je voudrais chercher un livre.” His eyes lit up in comprehension and he fumbled behind the desk and pulled out one of the most raunchy American romance novels I’ve ever seen. It’s titled “In the Whispers of the Night” and I think it’s so hilarious, I’m definitely going to read it!
I walked up the road about a ways to an Italian restaurant called the Sole Luna. I chose a two-top table on the patio (one of the weirdest things about travelling alone is all the solitary dining) and ordered a goat cheese and tomato pizza and a glass of my favorite juice—passion fruit. I’m staying on the out-skirts of Kigali, high up on a hill, and I sat with my candle-lit dinner and watched the last rays of sun light slink from the city below.
Kigali is a very clean and safe city—much more so than Nairobi, Jo’burg, and Arusha. Even though it was dark, I felt very peaceful and safe on my walk home (a luxury I’ve never felt in any of the other cities—day or night.)