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Published: July 18th 2012
I must admit, I came with a bit of fear. It seems safe, but there's peacekeepers everywhere ... well, international troops for several contingents in the hotel lobby for sure.
The drive in was on a surprisingly good road ... I was expecting big parts to be gravel and other parts to be pot holed ... but, though it was mountainous and thus windy and narrow, the road surface itself was decent.
Tomorrow I head south to the Tanzanian border near Kigoma ... close to Ujiji, where some self-promoting journalist met up with a missionary who was trying to stop the slave trade ...
Supposedly that first meeting was actually close to Buj, about 5km south of where I'm now. I was planning to going to that spot, but the taxi driver had other ideas.
Needless to say, I spent the better part of the day getting here, and the rest of the day trying to figure out how to leave here.
I'd confirmed the Kigali-Buj bus left at 06:00 ... I paid in advance and showed up at the bus office at 5:30 ... finally around 6:30, the guy in the office gave me my
money back and told me to go talk to the company next door ... they had a bus leaving in 2 minutes ... same price as the no show company. Thumbs up to Jaguar and a double down to Horizon.
The bus finally left closer to 7:00 and I got into Buj around 13:45 ... I'd expected to come in around 12:00 ... but I was delayed at the Burundi border ... I was pretty well the first person in line for a visa, and the last to get it. Yup ... I was the only non-African on the bus. Very efficient service ... mno bribe hints ... very proper procedures ... just required patience, that's all.
It's good to have large denomination US$ bills, but also several in the 10 and 20 range too, because change is hard to make most times.
For the trip south, I had to find an agency named "Burangane" that leaves from kind of a matatu stand to the south of us ... the taxi driver I hired said he knew about it ... then proceeded to take me to the boat pier thinking I'd prefer a cargo boat to Tanzania
instead ... they refused to take a passenger anyway ... then took me back to the bus station I'd arrived in the morning, and then to somewhere near the Burangane office and finally to the office, when I insisted ... I said I prefer a bus to a matatu or share-taxi.
So hopefully, this means I get to the Tanzania border tomorrow. Because, after all that waiting at the Burundi arrival point, the immigration guy only gave me a 3 day visa! There were no forms to fill, nor was I asked how long I intended to stay ... but after the $40 visa fee was processed, the guy on the bus told me that I'd better have left Burundi by the 3rd day ... or, I'd be facing fines.
I hadn't planned on staying here long ... it was more of a transit stop ... well, the short visa just guaranteed that. All I did was visit the post office, eat a meal and get a ticket out of here. A little walking about ... Buj is a lot more walkable than Kigali. The country side is mountainous, but Buj is relatively flat.
Both Kampala and
Kigali are getting a modern facelift of sorts ... but, Buj seems to be not much different that it would have been 10 or 20 years ago ... no high rises to speak of, crazy traffic (well, that's normal for these parts of the world it seems) and lots of beggars. A rough feel to the place too ... but, that could just be the fear of the unknown peeking out.
So, I leave for Kigoma, Tanzania at 7:00 in the morning ... or, that's the plan.
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