Rwanda and Burundi... green and wet :)


H
ow hard it is now to write about the previous weeks, it was pretty long since I was in Rwanda and Burundi, I'm in Dar Es Salaam now and here my mind is busy with another problems - the whole city is flooded and a tropical storm hit me last night, it was raining like hell and the wind went crazy so instead of sleeping i was trying to save my tent from breaking :)So ... after I left Kigali i got a ride to Lake Kivu, where I spent a night - a beautiful place, lots of people go there from Kigali for the weekend. From there I went back to the main road and headed south to Nyungve national park with the idea to see monkeys. Rwanda, same as Uganda is densely populated and there is no nature left outside national parks, everything is plantations - bananas and tea mostly. But it is quite mountainous and green and at least it gives the impression that you are in the nature, although this nature is entirely a creation of man, even the small forests along the road are eucalyptus trees that were imported from Australia and now widely grown. They grow quickly, but they are weak trees and erosion is everywhere. After people have cutted all the native trees to plant eucalyptus, problems have begun with strengthening the soil and at many places there are landslides on the roads.  


Late afternoon i reached Butare - the city where the road to the park starts. My last ride for the day was more than fantastic - i got picked up by a nice German looking just like Santa Claus and called Hans. He was working in a company for construction of hydroelectric power plants. He invited me to his house, where he lives with another German colleague. I stayed two nights with them and I heard so many unbelievable stories from this man... He lived and worked in Nigeria and Libya. He told me so many stories of violence in Nigeria and described it as the most dangerous country in the world according to him. Many times he was close to death, he has been attacked with guns a few times and he said that in Nigeria life has absolutely no value. He said that if you see a road accident you musn't stop and must drive away as fast as you can before the rebels have arrived, they kill the survivors and take whatever could be useful for them. He said he has seen hundreds of corpses of people killed in road accidents, they stay along the roads and nobody ever collects them. He shared about Libya too, about the war there, how the country is in total crisis now because Gaddafi is no more and Libyans are so used to him providing them with everything for free (home, education, medical care ... everything), and there is a total chaos now. We had long conversations at dinner while eating pizza prepared by Hans. I didn't have pizza for so long and it was really delicious! On the second morning we went to the site where Hans works. He is now organizing the building of a road to the power plant. Everything is done with human labor, the workers dig with ordinary hoes, there is only one machine that helps to break the stones, but everything else is done by several hundred workers (male and female) who work 16 hours a day with a hoe in hand. Hans was in charge of the project, he was going to the site every day to ckeck how is it going and was amazed by the accuracy of the workers, he said that they were the best workers he have ever had. In Europe he couldn't even dream of such. They come earlier and start to work immediately, doing everything with a smile, even singing while working and never complaining ... and the work is so hard! We went all around the site and there were groups of people digging in different parts of the path, breaking stones... All of them always smiling. Hans explains that for them it is a great chance to get cash on hand because they are farmers and their life is based on exchange. They never received cash money for their work, so now they are very happy that they can go to the store and buy something. Hans was very enthusiastic about the surprise that the company had prepared for Christmas - dressing as Santa Claus and appearing on the site, giving a pair of rubber boots to every worker. I helped Hans to make a collage on his laptop with some pictures of Santa Claus and the workers. It was a lot of fun especially when i put the flag of Rwanda next to the head of Santa Claus :) 

The second day after visiting the site i went straight into the national park and spent the whole day there. I simply could not have better luck - i saw chimpanzees!!! So difficult to see and such an interesting monkey,  so clever that I tried to photograph them and when they see that i put up the camera, they just disappear :) I was chasing them several hours for a decent photos but unfortunately they are very fast and i didn't have good chances in the huge thorn bushes, even managed to fall into a ravine and got myself a bit injured while obsessed by the pursuit of monkeys. :) However I took a few photos of them even from a distance and not very focused, but at least I could see in nature this amazing creature and also I made a pretty big tour of the slightly mountainous jungles in the national park. Fortunately nobody saw me, and i saw nobody all day. Everything is so green and magical, full of small flowers and birds ... and luckily no rain all day. In the evening i got i ride with a police car with a prisoner inside. Tthe prisoner was handcuffed, i asked the policeman what has he done and the answer was that he stole something, they were now taking him to jail. In Rwanda many  people are in prison for genocide, they were killers as children and now grown up they spend their lives in prison. Hans said it was only a matter of time before everything starts again because many people from the Tutsi tribe have escaped to Congo. They are armed and are waiting for a good moment to return to Rwanda and to regain power.  
The next day i left for Burundi. Hans gave me a beautiful wooden mask as a gift. I hoped to get to Bujumbura same day, but after I passed Butarei, traffic was gone and I walked several hours before I got a lift to the next village. I ended up at the border late afternoon. There was just no traffic, i passed the formalities for twenty minutes, they gave me a visa for three days and i paid $ 40, then I continued walking into Burundi. As in Rwanda, here i continued to "enjoy" dozens of people, mostly children, shouting after me "give me money muzungu" and so on until a taxi driver stopped and took me for free. It was very strange, but i did not object. He dropped me off in the first city on the road to Bujumbura. The night was coming and it was raining so bad, i tried to hide under a little shelter but every time a car was coming i went out in the rain to hitchhike it and i got soacked quickly. I kept my backpack on my back because there was nowhere to put it down, red water and mud were coming from everywhere and passing under the shelter. A few local children came and started staring at me, waiting to see what the muzungu will do in this situation. Not many cars on the road and the few that passed, didn't stop. Finally a taxi picked me up... again... for free! Crazy country - the normal cars don't stop and the taxis take me without money! The cab was full of other people who obviously paid but nobody objected that the white person is going for free.We arrived in Bujumbura, where at least it was not raining, I started looking for the address of the hosts - a couple from Latvia - Elina Martsis. While i was trying to find the place it became 21.00, i was walking on a small street and there were no people to ask for directions so i decided to hitchhike if a car appears. Miraculously a car did appear and it stopped! I felt such a relief when i saw a white woman driving, she of course said that she knows Elina and Martsis and she took me straight to their home. They live in a huge house with a pool and even a huge garden :) Panoramic views of the city and the lake, a quiet neighborhood in the mountains ... what more could you want! They greeted me warmly with a gorgeous Indian tea, very positive and nice people! We talked until late and Martsis showed me his passport, which is truly unique as it is totally full. He takes off the unnecessary visas :)) I just could not believe it when i saw it, i was so worried that i would not have enough pages ... Martsis immediately advises me: "the Rwanda visa fell easiest, a bit of ironing and it's ready :))) I started to make plans to deal with my passport the same way if i need to ... My room was so large with a huge bed and for the first time since ages i slept on a real bed with clean sheets, without using my sleeping bag! And another premiere - the next day i washed my clothes not by hand because it turned out that they have a washing machine :))) When I saw it i couldn't believe, last time i saw a real washing mashine was almost three months ago in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Since then - bucket and soap. Wow it is a great happiness to wash all your clothes especially when you have nothing clean left. 

Elina took me to town and we walked around the beach of  Lake Tanganyika. She told me about Gustav the crocodile who ate more than 50 people in his life and now people say that he moved to Lake Kivu. Almost nobody dares to swim in the lake because of the crocodiles, recently a few more escaped from the zoo in the city and are gone to the lake now :) This news makes me so happy - this should be the fate of all animals in the mad human creations - animal prisons called zoo. In the afternoon, Indian colleague and friend of Elina came to the house and brought samosas! My mouth was starving for tasty Indian food and i was so happy to have it! In the evening we went to a Indian restaurant so i ate my most favorite food in the world, i like it even more than the Bulgarian (although there is nothing better than a fat and oily Bulgarian banitsa with boza :)))))) 
The next day, i had to leave Bujumbura and Burundi in general, before i left Elina gave me a Latvian chocolate (wooow CHOCOLATE :)))) which i ate with such a pleasure in  less than half an hour, while waiting for a ride. Hitchhiking from Bujumbura to the southernmost border with Tanzania took me all day. I actually screwed up as I choose this one because all traffic goes through the others, but at least I had the privilege to enjoy the beautiful view of the lake all the way down. As I reached the border it was already dark, the immigration office is actually 20 km before the border and the last car left me there. The guards were amazed as I explained that I wanted to pitch a tent there after my passport gets stamped. And because in Burundi a few people speak English it was even more difficult to understand me. Fortunately an old American appeared with an old model Land Rover. He was going to travel to Kigoma, but the next morning. He lives in Bujumbura for many years and speaks Swahili, so the lost in translation were found, and after some short explanations i pitched the tent on the lawn near the office. The border guards were so worried that i will sleep outside that everyone wanted to pay a hotel room for me. They thought that i don't go to a hotel due to lack of money ... it was very difficult to explain that even if someone gives me money i don't want to go to a hotel, i received a total misunderstanding, but it does not matter because they finally let me sleep outside. The American was so late on the border because he forgot his passport in Bujumbura and was waiting for someone to bring it to him. He was traveling with his family to Kigoma and he sent his wife with their children to go earlier and not wait for him. So i was lucky - i now had a ride all the way to Kigoma on this empty road where there was almost no traffic passing.

I will continue writing these days, now it becomes dark and must somehow go back to the garden where i will camp again ... the city is flooded and the bridge was destroyed by the river in the morning and i don't know how i will go back .. . and again all night i must hold the tent so the wind doesn't break it, then wake up in the morning with a pool of water inside, as today .... as every day - welcome to Tanzania in the rainy season! :))) 

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