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Published: September 2nd 2018
Day started with a sleep in of sorts. We were being picked up at 1000 to go to a cultural village and his morning before heading back to Kigali and then onto Johannesburg.
Bags packed and re-packed, then as we walk out of our house there are 2 of the staff waiting to take our bags to the reception area. We eat and chat to a few more of the staff then try to get wifi working. Turns out the internet is shot and they are waiting for the tech guys to come and fix it.
We leave for our cultural visit. Back to the village where we turned off for the start of our walk yesterday. We have heard this is a bit commercial so a bit sceptical. We at greets at the gate by the warriors dancing and yelling at us. There is one little old guy leading them. He is really cute and only about 4.5ft tall but full of smiles, even if he only had about 10 teeth in his head.
We are then greeted by our guide who explains a bit more about the village and the background of the poachers turned porters. Lots of little huts with each one displaying a different way of life. Blacksmith, grain grinding using a stone, butter making using a gourd and the medicine man. He showed how sage can be used for aches, aloe for burns and last but not least, basil. He had a wry smile then gave the stiff arm and had a pole he put between his legs. Viagra of the bush...... Lots of laughs again.
We move on and next thing we are being dressed as the king and queen. Robes and spear and warrior guard in hand, we move out of the palace building and are greeted by the warriors and others as a king and queen should. We then explore the palace and I get to sit on the super king size bed while Chris enters through a side door..
We disrobe, then they out on a wedding display and end with another dance routine. A bit staged in some parts but a good display of the life back in the day. Obligatory curio shop visit then back into the car. As we walk back we mention Amile, Chris’ porter. He lives here says the guide. Sure enough, he is sitting outside his house. Sees us and has a big smile. Gets up and he and Chris shake hands and chat (as much as you can when there is a language barrier). Bid him farewell and back to the lodge for lunch.
Internet is working now. Get a few emails and send a photo we have taken with one of the barmen at the lodges. Eventually into the car and head back to Kigali. First stop is to an area we passed yesterday where they were making giant animals out of bamboo and reeds. Yassin says that this is being prepared for the annual gorilla naming ceremony on September 7. Even the President is coming for this occasion. We pull up and I go to get shots while Chris is being surrounded by kids chatting to them.
I take some shots then walk around the other side and chat to a few guys standing watching others up the top drag a steel frame up to the top of the structure. They try to place it even higher. OH&S nightmare. The guy I speak to explains the shape being built and is excited that the head is nearly up and looking real. It is a huge gorilla with 2 babies climbing up the front. There are lions, giraffe, an elephant, rhino and something else. They also have built a stage with bamboo around it as well.
I say it is looking good, but is he nervous about having time to finish it all in 6 days. He smiles and says it should be right on the day. I wish him luck, a few more pics then back to the car. Chris is in animated conversation with her group of young boys. One is very good with his English, but they all want to ask my name and give me high fives. Finally drag ourselves away, but only after Chris has given them her email and theirs to her as well so she can send some of her pics of them.
Now we are on the road to Kigali. People everywhere, a few weddings but just lots of people walking, riding and standing on the side of the road. Seems to be a common thing in the country areas of Rwanda.
We make good time and arrive back at the tour office where I want to change some cash to cover a tip and taxi when we get to Joberg. Exchange is locked up. Bugger, not to worry, Yassin rattles the door, they open up and I get my USD. Handy to know people. We meet the original tour guy who spoke to us 4 days ago. He asks how the trip has gone and we chat for a while.
Yassin suggests we stop for a coffee. Good idea. We stop at a place called the women’s cooperative of coffee. Again, sign says closed at 1700. It is now 1730. In we go again, but this time they had cleaned the machine so no coffee. Decide it is easier to just head to the airport. Our flight isn’t until 2220 but not much else to do in between. Get there and say farewell to Yassin. Up to the departure area and show our ticket. Told that we can’t enter till 1930 so go around the corner to a coffee shop. Get a drink, mini sprite for me (no beers) and a coffee for Chris.
Coffee is ordinary but they have wifi. Balmy night so not too bad waiting in the outside area. 1920 comes and we go in. Security before we get to the check in counter. Shoes off, belt off, what is that in your pocket - wallet. Is that a camera in the bag, yes. Get it out and they are happy. Meanwhile I am getting dressed again and trying to re-pack the backpack.
Up to the check in. Ask how much to upgrade. Bags go and we are directed to a window to ask someone else. He finally comes back and says $USD445. No thank you. Ask for exit row, sorry all gone. Ok, any chance of an empty seat between us. Nope. Losers......
Into the terminal proper. Passport control done without a hitch. Sit and wait. Called into the departure area and through security again. Undressed like before then get the all clear. Re pack, dress and sit and wait some more.
We are called and get on a bus and out to the plane. Looking good, lots of empty seats. A few have already shuffled when another busload pulls up. Buggered that one up. Now most seats are occupied. Never mind, the leg room isn’t too bad.
This flight gets into Joberg at 0210. We have a hotel booked and arranged for a late checkout as our flight to Oz doesn’t leave until 2130. More waiting tomorrow. Woo hoo........
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