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Published: December 4th 2018
This is my first visit to Kigali the capital of Rwanda, and the country itself. I'm at 158 countries visited on my own little count. The official excuse to come here for 6 days is to play the Rwanda Golf Open.
Little disclaimer, it is not that easy to write a blog about a country that has gone through so much, while spending my time on a golf course, in a country that is still one of the poorer in the world. So I would appreciate your understanding.
The country is certainly one of the most amazing in Africa. So much has been done here the last 20 years...and at the same time, there is a lot of things that cannot be told and about which I cannot write about. So yes, it is complicated to write a blog about Kigali, specially as I would need a lot more time to understand what is really going on below the very welcoming surface.
The best assets of Rwanda are today the goodwill of a nation, some monkeys, coffee, tea, cocoa...and yes, MICE! What is MICE? It's the business of meetings and conventions. Yes,
today Rwanda is at the top of Africa, just behind South Africa when it comes to organizing groups conferences. I'm sure you had no idea about it. The Government is going full power in providing a safe environment for visitors....and you can feel it everywhere!
The visa is another easy affair...just 30usd. But be warned...it can be slightly stressful. Officially,you apply online, you receive a confirmation within 3 working days. After 5 days, nothing....no reply to emails, tracking system is providing an error message. I call them, oh, Sir, don't worry...system has never really worked...airline is aware. So I call the airline....yes Sir, not an issue...so no stress....and the morning of taking my flight...I even received my visa approval by email....go figure out!
Arrive at the airport...easy welcome....5 minutes to get through immigration....bags are there, 11usd for an official taxi ride to the city....well, yes, it's that easy!
Roads are amazing...vehicles do respect the street signs...traffic lights works....are we in Africa, or in Singapore? Arrived in the hotel...staff is amazing...place is 3 years old...and many places in Asia are far away from being that welcoming...and we are 150km from DRC! Go
Rwandans have always spoke Swahili. Rwanda used to be a German colony, than was transferred in 1916 to the Belgian rulers before reaching Independence in 1962. Before 1994, the official language was French...but after the Genocide, the President decided to switch to English, and the country joined the Commonwealth. Would be slightly too tricky to explain further here. But put it simply...older generation...and there are few of them speak french....but most people will only speak English.
Rwandair is the new local tiger. Fast expansion, great service, a solid competitor for the giant neighbor, Ethiopian or even Kenyan Airlines! I arrived on Rwandair, and left on Ethiopian....direction, Lubumbashi for my next stop.
I spent 5 days playing golf. There is an 18 holes golf course here....was done by few expats back in the middle of the 1980s. Today, they have completely revamped 9 holes....and it such an impressive job. They are working on the remaining revamp of the other 9 holes...so yes, I will be back either next year, or the year after for the complete 18 holes.
Golf in Africa is a special affair...not many golf
courses around at the end of the day. In some places, it's 50/50 between expat golfers and local ones...in some places, it's more like 80% expats and 20% locals....here in Kigali, it is way more like 90% locals and 10% expats. So not only did I got a super nice welcome....it was a very local one too.
My aim for the coming few years, playing more of these Golf Opens....it is actually a way cheaper way to play golf. You meet the locals, have some fun and competition, can even bring back some nice prices (not this trip)...have few parties thrown into the week...and spend my time on the greens. I still need to play this way Cameroun, Ghana and few others....to come soon.
The open was over on Saturday...and Saturday night party! My flight was very late on Sunday, so I had all the day to go around. Not a huge amount of sites in Kigali. The main one is the Genocide Memorial. I've been to S21 in Phnom Penh, also in Auschwitz. These places are never easy to visit, this is one of them, and actually one of the more recent genocide.
Never forget and try to forgive, this could be the motto here. Let see with time, not everything can be written, and not everything is solved.
Here is it, I'm late as usual, happy back at home for the last days of 2018. What a year of traveling it was. I will for sure visit new places in 2019, but it may be slightly more quieter on the blogging site. We live in paradise....and diving, playing golf, eating and drinking at home, all this with Tanya....is I have to admit often better than any trip!
Next entry, not before January! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody reading this!
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