Andrew James Frenz


Andrew James Frenz

Architecture student. Traveler. Always reppin' the 612.

Africa » Rwanda » Ville de Kigali » Kigali June 18th 2009

Didn't get to posting yesterday (we didn't do that much anyways). We had originally planned on spending our final three nights here at the Mille Collines, but once we arrived, prior to heading out to Ruhengeri, Cave & Kuntz went to the Mille Collines to confirm our reservation and found out that all of the amenities were closed for remodeling. They got us reservations at the Stipp, but then the hotel was forced to give our rooms to the government. We ended up staying in some large homes that weren't quite finished (landscaping, painting, ect) that are owned by the Stipp. They were big and such, but a gated community of identical homes 40 minutes from the city wasn't exactly the coolest thing in the world. It was however, a nice break to have showers with ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Sud June 16th 2009

Sorry I didn't get a chance to make a post yesterday; we were very busy. Yesterday we drove down Butare along with a journalist from Boston who is here to do a story on the genocide and Rwanda's reconciliation. Along the way the mountains gave way to wide valleys with large rolling hills. Butare is Rwanda's second-largest city and was the former colonial captial of the Belgian territory of Rwanda-Urundi. In 1962 the capital was moved to Kigali because of its central location. Butare was the largest city at the time, but today Kigali is many times larger. After walking around and having lunch in Butare, we drove another hour back north to the Murambi Genocide Center, formerly Murambi Technical School. As word of the violence in Kigali spread out, Tutsis all around the country began ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Ville de Kigali » Kigali June 14th 2009

This one's probably going to be pretty long; I've got a lot to explain. Saw President Kagame's house last night. Lots of soldiers with assault rifles guarding it. Came to the realization today that nearly every business in downtown Kigali is guarded by a security guard with a shotgun. Woke up this morning and got on the bus to the Kigali Genocide Center. The center includes a large museum similar to the Holocaust museum in D.C. There are also 15 completed mass graves, as well as two that are still open and being filled as bodies are found. There are currently 258,000 genocide victims buried at the Kigali Genocide Center. Security was tight- we had our bags searched by guards with AK-47s at two different checkpoints and had to pass through a metal detector. The museum ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord June 14th 2009

Left Ruhengeri this morning to make a few stops in the area around Kinigi, the town closest to the Verungas, on the road to the DRC. On our way out we saw two trucks of soldiers headed to the border. The Imababazi group from yesterday had seen a convoy of seven trucks full of UN soldiers also headed to the border. Hmm. We stopped at a Batwa settlement a couple miles outside Kinigi. The Twa are a race of pygmies that live in Rwandas forests. They make up about 2% of the population. We watched them perform a dance, and once again someof us joined in. After that we headed down to AIDP (Amahoro Intergrated Development Program), the "One" organization from the common basket program. We were there to drop off the $1,500 in donations from ... read more

Woke up this morning at 5:15 to see the gorillas. After an hour car ride to the national park office, we signed in and were put in a group with a dual American/Rwandan citizen who lives in Richmond. We were assigned our two rangers, who told us about the family of gorillas which we were going to see as well as about the mountain gorillas in general. Volcanoes National Park is right up against the borders with the DRC and Uganda. Both the DRC and Uganda have national parks on the other side of these borders. I use the term "national park" very loosely with the DRC, as it is really just uncontrolled wilderness. Together these parks encompase the entire Vertugas Mountains, which are a small chain of volcanic mountains, including three active ones. The last ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord June 11th 2009

Observation: Red Eminem shirts are really common here. Question: How does a four year old Rwandan living in a remote village 45 mins walk from the nearest road end up with a "Hillary Duff 2005 US Tour" shirt? We went to a crafts associations today in a very remote village about a two hour walk from Ruhengeri. After working our way down from the mountains into a giant valley, we walked the last 45 mins on raised dirt paths between 8-10 foot tall beanstalks. Saw another Project Rwanda bike- that makes four so far. The fgirst thing we did was make banana beer. We took mildly rotten bananas and peeled them, thowing them into a wooden tough carved from a log. After that we mixed in shredded banana leaves with the 200 or so bananas we ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord June 10th 2009

Last night after dinner all the water in Ruhengeri ran out. It came back on at around 3 PM today. According to some of the locals, the water goes out once or twice a week during the dry season. We left this morning for Imbabazi orphanage, which is in a very remote part of the country near the Congolese border. We drove an hour down a paved highway out of Ruhengeri, and then moved on to a terribly made dirt road which basically consisted of volcanic rock with some gravel to "level" it out. On the way we saw lots of interesting things. -A UNAMIR refugee camp for civilians fleeing the conflicts in the eastern DRC -Groups of convicted genocidaires in pink and blue prison jumpsuits working on a drainage ditch under guards armed with assault ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord June 9th 2009

Uraho! Amakuru ni mesa. Rwanda is great. I once again slept a lot last night, a solid 10 hours. Woke up feeling like I got hit in the back of the head with a brick though. Heh, bricks. I'm fine now. I think it was mostly dehydration. This morning we left in our small group of just 6 of us (Mickey, Dann, Mary, Kelsey, Ms. Overbo and myself) to go work at a brickmakers' association about 4 miles outside Ruhengeri. Greg (our Rwandan friend from Amahoro Tours) gave us a lift, after we pushed his land rover a couple blocks to get it started. The association is in a large clay quary on a bluff above a road and a swamp down below. While we were there we learned how to do all the basic jobs ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Province du Nord June 8th 2009

Slept a solid 11.5 hours last night. Toally wiped out from going 48+ without any sleep. We left the ghuesthouse at around 10 this morning for Ruhengeri. Lucky for us, the road between Kigali and Ruhengeri is one of the few paved roads in Rwanda outside the capital. It was quite a trip. Rwanda is called the land of 1,000 hills, but it should really be called land of 1,000 mountains. The topography is ver similar to that of Colorado. The travel experience was similar to the mountain passes in Colorado was well, excepting the fact that there was two-way traffic on the roads, along withj people walking on the side. The whole country is filled with farms: sorgum, bannanas, soybeans, regular beans, potatoes, corn, cows, goats. We stopped at some sort of fuel depot on ... read more

Africa » Rwanda » Ville de Kigali » Kigali June 7th 2009

I'm writing from an internet cafe in downtown Kigali that has what is perhaps the slowest internet in the world! Took a solid 9 minutes to load this page... Anyways, we certainly arrived safely. All three flights went fine, and the transfers were pretty smooth. I closest we came to trouble was some drunk lady who claimed to know us. She claimed a lot of things. I had my bags searched in Brussels, but the guy was pretty nice. Beautiful scenery on the way down- lots of wildfires burning in Sudan. Ah, Rwanda. What a beautiful country! Customs were quick and easy ,as was getting to our hotel. I've gotta love the street life here: hundreds of people walking down the streets, cars, buses, motos, and trucks vying for a place in traffic. We got to ... read more

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