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Published: August 31st 2018
Today we left our Kigali hotel to head up into the mountains. But first we did a drive around Kigali looking at a few sights and onto the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre for an audio tour.
Our driver (Yassin) had given us a few bits of information about the genocide of 1994 but said he would let us find out more from the centre itself. You get a map and audio guide and work through at your own pace. I won’t go into too much detail here, but the displays and commentary were pretty graphic.
A little bit of history. Rwanda was made up of 3 tribes/clans, the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Hutu made up around 84%, Tutsi 15% and the Twa 1%. This split was also used to make up the ruling parties, etc. Prior to the genocide, all had lived side by side in relative harmony. In the background, however, the Hutu were creating their own militia and were being trained by the French who were part of a military training group from other nations. The UN had been warned of a possible uprising but instead of increasing numbers, they reduced them. Outcome was the Hutu attacked the Tutsi and slaughtered them, even neighbours etc. The rest of the world sat back and did nothing. They said that over 1 million were killed in a very short time.
After it all ended and things turned the corner, there is no longer talk of Hutu, Twa or Tutsi. They are all Rwandese and they now have around 64% female representation in the parliament.
Anyway, after the cold realisation of the centre, we went and had lunch at what was the Hotel Rwanda which was used as a refuge during the genocide. Nice lunch then a bit more touring of Kigali before we hit the road.
Through some older parts of town, pass the bus centre for all the local and international routes. Crazy place, then we turn off into the hills. And hills they were.
First thing we spot is a bike rider hanging onto the back of a truck being pulled up the hill. Yassin says that if the rider falls off it can be the truck drivers fault. Can’t quite work that one out, but hey, it is an interesting country. We see a few more on the way up. They actually have both motorbike taxis and push bike taxis so they are everywhere.
Get to the top, then down, then up, etc. We finally get to our lodge turn off. Gone are the nice bitumen roads, this track is a shocker - literally. Bounce our way up to the lodge. Welcomed in the usual manner. Hot towel, welcome, can I have your passport please. Get our induction and go to the room. This time we are probably the furthest lodge from the main lounge area. Big room with bed and a lounge type area with our own open fire. Big bathroom so looking good.
We were told there would be a local tribe singing and dancing for us so back we go. Might be another 15 minutes, drink time.
Chris comes in to sit next to me. A lady sitting a few seats off puts her hand on the seat beside her - this is taken. Chris says that she wasn’t going to sit there anyway - bit of a glare and she turned her nose up at us - interesting. We chat to the guy who comes to the saved seat - he is from Adelaide, the other woman from Kew. End of chat with her, but we chat with the Adelaide dude.
There is another group of 4 Aussies across from us who had obviously been up to the gorillas that day. I was going out to the toilet when one of them also stood up and started chatting. Where are you from, etc. He is from Mt Gambier and somehow the comment comes that the others were originally from Edenhope. Do you possibly know David Sargent? Name familiar. At that stage chris comes over and we talk about the possible Edenhope connection. Chris asks if they know Barry Hall (one of David’s friends who she sends the Bureau calendar to). Yes, know him well, then his wife is asked about David. Yes, she says, Mr Sargent. He taught me Geography when I was 16...... 6 degrees bites again.
We chat some more, then end up having dinner together. A fun group and we had quite a few laughs over dinner and a few drinks. Early night fades a little, but still in bed before 1030 pm.
Alarm set for 0530 as we will be picked up at 0630to go the park headquarters for our trek.
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