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Published: November 19th 2011
After a slightly extended stay in Musanze, due to an upset belly, we traveled to Gisenyi to visit Lake Kivu. We had heard that staying by the lake was very picturesque, but after spending one night in a rather basic guest house with no windows, a funny smell and no toilet seat, Cel wanted to give up and move on. However, we decided to give it one last try and check out another Lonely Planet recommendation. When we arrived at Paradis Malahide it really was like finding a little bit of paradise, with pretty stone bungalows by the lake and complete with it's own private beach. Unfortunately there was no room at the inn, but we had fallen in love with the place, so when the owners offered to put us up in a tent we quickly agreed. The next two days were spent sunbathing, catching up on novels, swimming in the lake, eating great food and watching the daily procession of fishermen heading out for their evening catch followed by cosy nights by the log fire.
After a relaxing few days we moved on to Rwanda's capital, Kigali, which was a pleasant change from the other African capitals we
had previously visited. The streets were clean, the traffic calm, buses weren't overcrowded and ran on time and it was even compulsory for motorbike taxis and their passengers to wear helmets.
Whilst in Kigali we visited the genocide memorial centre, where there are the mass graves of over 259,000 people and a museum which poignantly describes the events which led up to the 100 days of horror during which 1million people of an 8million population were brutally killed. It also illustrates how the country has tried, and in certain aspects succeeded, in moving on. The centre has a wall of names listing victims of the genocide and at first we were confused as to why it was so short and incomplete, with no where near 1million names. However, we discovered that during the genocide entire families spanning multiple generations had been wiped out, leaving nobody behind to identify the dead.
Particularly harrowing aspects of the exhibit were displays showing the remains of the dead and video footage of survivors explaining how they lived through the ordeal, with some explaining how they had seen their family members being killed before they somehow managed to escape. Finally the childrens' section
which had life-size photos of children who had been killed, below which was listed their names, ages, favourite toys and food and the method by which they had been killed.
We were so moved and upset by the visit that we were unable to do anything else for the rest of the day. It was amazing to think that almost everyone we met in Rwanda had lived through the genocide and lost loved ones and in addition how the country has been able to move on together as a united nation to produce the modern, safe and friendly country Rwanda is today.
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