1. RWANDA ARRIVAL
In my recent article about the gorillas, I explained how I made the decision that we'd be going to Rwanda this summer, and that when I got home to British Columbia from Ontario I was going to announce it to my husband as a fait accomplis. It actually wasn't quite that easy.
He put a few obstacles in the way, all of which had to be overcome, like for instance "it isn't a good time to travel to Africa, the world situation being what it is over there", to which I responded by telling him that there wasn't any country in Africa that I would feel safe going to other than Rwanda which has been recognized by its peers and the rest of the world as the safest country on the continent.
Another obstacle he put in the path was "the cost, the cost, the cost" to which I replied that "you only live once" and "we don't spend our money on lots of things that other people spend their money on and we therefore have money to spend when something we want to spend it on comes up" (or words to that effect).
Then there was the obstacle of having to arrange the time off work which he said was a little late in the game and to which I reminded him that it was only the end of April and I'm sure with his seniority at work he could get prime time so we could be there for July 1st Independence Day and July 4th Liberation Day celebrations.
There were a few other obstacles, none of which I can remember, but generally he kept repeating the same old refrain until one day he revealed his deepest reason for not wanting to go, which boiled down to one word with six letters - S-O-C-C-E-R:
"I'll miss the World Cup" he wailed.
This was the opening I'd been looking for, the chance to beat him over his own game - SOCCER - which - because he's an Englishman - he started playing at birth and hasn't stopped since. Seizing the moment I said:
"But sweetheart, Rwandans LOVE soccer and so does its President who actually PLAYS the game and is the sponsor of the national SOCCER team and FOR SURE you'll be able to watch ALL of the games on television over there (maybe even England in the final) because the Rwandans would ALL be watching the World Cup and maybe you could even play soccer yourself with the kids in the street while I'm busy doing things you're not as interested in doing" (like shopping).
So, to make a long story short, after that final obstacle had been overcome, he came on board and helped and participated in the planning and logistics of the Rwanda trip.
We flew out of Vancouver on Thursday morning, the 29th of June, touching down in Toronto for an hour, then on to Frankfurt where we had a twelve hour wait (he watched the German soccer team beat Argentina in Germany - quite exciting) before the flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a two hour wait (which became four), then the final leg to Kigali, arriving at 3:30 - their time - Saturday afternoon.
The view out the window leaving Addis Ababa was good and the Burundian gentleman sitting next to me was very tolerant of my reaching over him to snap photos. He pointed out Lake Victoria when we flew over it and I snapped a picture but the blue/green of the lake melts into the blue/green of the land and so it's not very clear.
At short while later there was a penninsula jutting into the fork of a river or lake, but so far I have yet to learn the name or location of it.
As we approached Kigali (and my reaching over to snap photos increased dramatically) the gentleman graciously relinquished his seat and moved to a vacant one nearby. I then kept my face glued to the window trying to absorb as much through my eyeballs as I could register and snapping pictures galore as well.
The following photos show us over green and rust-coloured Rwanda, with Kigali looming ever closer until finally we touch down and are really there - "on the ground" - in Rwanda.
When we turned to walk toward the airport we saw arms frantically waving, which caught our attention, and amazed us when we realized that they were waving at us and upon getting closer I recognized one of the Rwandan friends I had previously met in London Ontario, and two others who I had been exchanging emails with and also, a friend of a friend from The Diaspora in Canada who I had never met or spoken to but who was visiting Rwanda herself and would help us get around.
So, needless to say, this was all very exciting and thrilling and such a warm welcome as I had never imagined. After clearing customs, and retrieving our baggage (all of which had miraculously arrived considering all the plane switches) our Rwandan friends drove us to the hotel they had recommended to us and where one could relax by the beautiful pool, a picture of which I snapped from our room at sunrise the following morning, Sunday.
go next to 2. KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL or back to index at DESTINY DESTINATION RWANDA
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~