Rwanda Part II

A delayed follow-up to my Kigali post. This week has been a social whirlwind (more of that later) so our Rwanda trip seems a long time ago. But Rwanda is so different than the other places in Africa I didn’t want to leave the impression our only memory was the memorial.

I’ve been told Rwanda is like Germany: disciplined, controlled and well organized. But the people we met had a sense of humor. We hardly scratched the surface, arriving late Saturday afternoon and leaving early Monday, especially considering on Sunday everything is closed (a crisis to those in Team Walton who needed a shopping fix). So we’ll be back one day. But it was time to say goodbye to our van;

Naty and Safari van

We did bounce around Kigali on the Sunday via motorbike taxis. Typically you’re advised to avoid motorbike taxis in Africa where there often seems to a competition to get as many people on board (with no helmets) as possible. But in Rwanda they are required by (enforced) law to be well maintained and always carry a second helmet for one-passenger only. Great fun and quite terrifying. The taxi riders even waited until we entered the memorial, waving goodbye.

Unfortunately, the Greek restaurant (Restaurant Hellénique) recommended by our buddy Ronnie was closed. We had arrived an hour before the guard told us it would be open so we found a local bar.

Naty and Phil in Kigali bar

A couple of beers on an empty stomach and we were feeling merry but when we returned to the restaurant no dice (although we did get to meet the owner Cocolio).

Ronnie had given us a backup restaurant, New Cactus, which was within walking distance of out hotel. Off we went by foot but in the wrong direction and spent the next 60 minutes wandering around Kigali streets at dusk. Not a concern at all and an opportunity to meet very stern and professional policeman on every street corner.

So a fail on Kigali restaurants (shame as we’ve been craving Greek and Mexican food) but we didn’t care. We had used my accumulated stock of Marriott points (thank you to you-know-who) to stay at the brand new Kigali Marriott. High-end gym, Sauna, steam room – and all round luxury and a fantastic view from our balcony.

Phil and Naty on Kigali Marriott Balcony

Amazingly, I still have status with Marriott and we were invited into their lounge. No honor bar or peanuts and crackers – full free bar and wide range of tasty food for breakfast and dinner. In fact, when we found this out at check-in we were on time for dinner and smuggled Ben in and we all dined like kings.

Dining like Kings

And we invited him back for breakfast the next day, with his boss Nasser who had traveled all the way from Entebbe by bus (10 hours during the night) just to confirm our trip was a success (sure beats a customer satisfaction email) before they both left to return to Uganda.

Phil, Nasser and Ben in the Lounge

Since we’ve been back we had our anniversary and then had a surprise anniversary party at Club Destiny arranged by Violet, Carys, Isabel and friends. Delicious food and a lot of fun after a long and tiring week, followed by a spontaneous trip to Harry’s Bar and then Chez Ntemba until 2.30am. All the girls (who were feeling no pain) and me, the arm candy and designated driver (Brave and Adrian – please hurry back). We’re very lucky to have friends like this here in Malawi.

Club Destiny Anniversary Party

We were joined by our latest friend, Daniel Ruiz who we were connected with after seeing his name on an AfID bulletin saying he was in Lilongwe. Daniel is Colombian and quite a character who has traveled the world (Congo, Argentina, Myanmar) on international assignments. First we went to Wednesday night to an Indian restaurant with Carys;

Meeting Daniel

And then we rolled into a new bar for us (Vision Gaming) where we bumped into an old friend (Adrien). I’ll be back at this bar as it seems we have a common interest.

Vision Gaming

Daniel joined the party Friday night and was still dancing up a storm with the remaining girls at Chez Ntemba as we left. If you’re having a party invite a Colombian and it won’t end early.

Strangely enough, Mrs W. was on the sofa all day Saturday.

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4 thoughts on “Rwanda Part II

  1. Great picture of Phil on the back of the motorbike with his classic “I’ve got a secret and you don’t know it” look, but a question regarding the Colombian princess in front of the van. Coat over sweater, long pants, head wrap in central Africa in July?!? Now that’s acclimating to ones climate surroundings!!

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  2. I’m really pleased your trip to Uganda (my motherland) and Rwanda (my auntieland) went well. Thanks for sharing your experience at Entebbe, Bwindi and Kigali. Those three places are a good representation of the East African experience. I’m told by friend who have traveled to Uganda and Rwanda that the traveler caughtes a bug that is incurable and its only symptom is wanting to come back again and again, something akin to a good sexual orgasm, you want it again and again. If that is true, I’m sure the next time I will be there to show you more orgasmic sights and sounds of this beautiful part of the world.

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