Hello Rwanda!

So, we finally made it to Rwanda just before midnight on 20 May! We flew from Dublin via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, a very good day flight (we left Ireland at 11am and arrived in Kigali at 11.30pm). T’s office had organised our accommodation and airport pick-up but as usual, there had to be a bit of an African twist 😉 When we walked out of the terminal, alongside a fairly sizeable group of foreigners who clearly came for some gorilla tracking and were being collected by various companies, our taxi was nowhere in sight. For some reason our English and French phones weren’t working properly but there’s WiFi at the airport so T decided to Skype the taxi company. It turned out our driver was given the wrong date of our arrival – Saturday instead of Friday, but he told us he’d be there in 20 minutes. I was wondering how long this was going to be really, given the African concept of time 😀 The evening was very pleasant though, with clear sky and nearly full moon, so we didn’t mind waiting. The airport taxi drivers did come up to ask if we needed transport but weren’t at all pushy when we declined, they just smiled and left us alone. Amazingly, in less than 20 minutes later our taxi arrived. The driver, Isaac, was apologising over and over again for being late, although it wasn’t his fault – he was given the wrong date, and we were very grateful he turned up at all! The drive to our temporary accommodation took about 10 minutes, and it was wonderful to have the car windows open (you wouldn’t really do that in South Africa) and feel the fresh air on our faces. When we arrived at the serviced apartments complex, the guard had no clue who we were – and we had been told that keys would be waiting for us at the guardhouse. It was well after midnight at that point but a bit of phoning around (and suprisingly, someone did pick up!) resulted in the guard retrieving an envelope with the keys from somewhere in his little office. He and Isaac helped us then to get our bags to the flat, and wished us a good night. The place we’re staying in is basic but has everything we need to last us a few weeks before we move to the house provided by the office. As it was after 1am at that point, all we needed was a comfortable bed, and luckily that’s what we got.

We got up late, had some breakfast and went for a short walk to the nearest shop to get a few more supplies (we haven’t got the car yet). It was called “supermarket”, but “tiny corner shop” would be more appropriate 😉 The randomness of the supplies was quite endearing – you can get eggs, shoes (just one pair was on display), children’s toys, bananas and lemons (no other fruit), biscuits, a jerrycan (!) of oil, nappies, beer, French wine, Moroccan sardines… It was enough for the moment but I’m looking forward to exploring some bigger shops as well! 😀 It was very nice to be able to walk on a wide, even and clean pavement, with cars and motos (little motorbikes that serve as taxis) zooming past. So far everyone has been friendly, if rather quiet and reserved – Rwandans are known as the least cheerful nation in Africa… We walked back to our apartment and enjoyed cold local beers on the balcony while watching the sun go down (which is about 6pm). I must say – this was a very nice way to begin our stay in Rwanda 🙂


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