Rwanda

Posted on June 15, 2014

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It’s taken nine hours to get to the Rwandan border with just two pit stops. The roads have been amazingly smooth. Not surprising though given the number of articulated lorries that use this route – it’s tarmac all the way.

Along the highway the landscape has changed from terracotta clay with large fields stripped of forest and replaced to make way for agriculture and homes. The backdrop is impressive, majestic mountains topped with mist hanging over their summits. Carved into the sides of these amazing hills are roads and with careful examination you can make out logging trucks snaking their way around these man-made steep roads.

(These pictures taken from the bus, which has red tinted windows!!)

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We have travelled south west from Kampala towards the border town of Gatuna. It’s filled wit hawkers selling bic biros, money exchangers and other dodgy-looking characters. The queue or scrum outside the first immigration office is to get a stamp to exit Uganda. There is no one telling you what you have to do and where you have to go and unless you ask questions you’d be none the wiser. I had a mini panic attack when I came out of the first office on the Ugandan side and couldn’t see the bus and then saw it heading down the road. UC was still in the queue so I pegged down the road fast in case it was leaving without us.

Panic over it drives over the border to wait in Rwanda while you queue to get an entry stamp into the country at another immigration point. Before this there is a weird no man’s land stretch of road you have to walk through before getting to the Rwandan border. It’s a quick 5min walk and the scenery is breath-taking. But it feels seedy – plenty of truckers pull up on the side of the road and no doubt anything can be bought and sold at the right price.

(Ugandan side)

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(Rwandan side)

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(Looking considerably grumpy after being harassed!)

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As a woman it irks me that soldiers or men in authority always think it is acceptable to call out and hit on foreign females. In my experience in Africa this happens a lot. A group of four men in blue camouflage uniforms sat at a check point did their best to coax me over – failing miserably. I didn’t stop and I certainly didn’t go over as they asked, I kept on walking wearing a my stern “don’t even go there” face. It’s a fine line to tread, you have to smile sweetly or in my case “fake it” while still moving so as not to appear rude or offend and give them a reason to make your life difficult.

After getting a Gatuna stamp in Rwanda. I was then concerned to see a pile of luggage from the bus on the floor and all of our bag being added to it.

Jogging up to the pile and quizzing the conductor I said: “Doesn’t this bus to Kigali?”

My baffled face prompted the conductor to gently touch my arm.

“Yes, but you first check,” he said motioning to my rucksack.
“Check?” I asked puzzled. “Check what where?”

Obscuring my view was a beat up truck and in front of that was a wooden table where police where searching bags. The penny dropped.

“Ah ha, customs, gotcha!” I thought.

After what was really a pathetic glance inside my bag it was back on the bus. No wonder stuff gets trafficked if that’s the extent of searches.

The weather in Rwanda is damp and cool. I imagine that the mountains will be like this too, perfect for the trek. Fosey’s autobiography isn’t called ‘Gorillas In The Mist’ for nothing. I have no idea how long it’ll take us to get to Kigali, but an educated guess makes me think it’ll be another two hours or so. Probably arrive in the dark and have to haggle a taxi into finding our motel, but it’s all part of the adventure.

I’m excited to explore another city and another country!

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