Le Pays des Milles Collines
Trip Start Apr 09, 2008
138Trip End Aug 30, 2008
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Where I stayed
Vero and Gabriel's home
Oh well, we were off by 6:30, but not before asking the owner to sign Foxy. We thought since we had spent a considerable amount of time at his hotel, we should have a reminder of our time there somehow. Only later did we realize, much to our amusement, he signed it "Piece of Mind Camping Site" when in fact it should've been "Peace of Mind". Matt remarked later that it was rather appropriate since sometimes we did want to give them a piece of our mind when dinner took almost 2 hours to arriveThorntree online site so they get more exposure, and hopefully, more customers.
Mwanza ferry pier was already buzzing when the four of us arrived at 7:00. We parked both of our Landrovers behind the other 3 trucks that had arrived just before us. After the big passenger bus was loaded on the Nansio Ferry, the trucks went on, followed by a long stream of foot passengers. Christoph went up and asked if we couldn't try and get on as well. The next ferry was in one hour and as our day's drive was going to be long enough, we really wanted to get on this one. Luckily the guy let us try, although he was not so optimistic.
Christoph drove their (nameless) Landy in first, parked it just inches away from the side. Matt then took Foxy up the ramp and managed to squeeze in between the two cars. And then MORE foot passengers came trudging up the ramp, turning sideways to get by Foxy.
The ferry ride was a pleasant 30 minute journey to Kamanga. Once we disembarked, we drove on a road towards Geita that could barely pass for a "dirt track"
After reaching paved road again it was pretty smooth right up to the Rwandan border.
Crossing into our 6th country, we now knew the procedure: immigration first to get our exit stamp in our passport, then to customs to get our Carnet de Passage stamped and cleared. Then drive through no-man's-land to the next border post, get our entry stamp in our passport and if necessary, pay for our visa (and any other cost), and lastly get our Carnet de Passage stamped for entry.
No visas are required for Canadians or British Nationals, so that made things even that much less painful. PLUS we gained one more hour because Rwandan time is one hour behind Tanzania's. Wonderful!
Immediately, I noticed how kind and friendly the Rwandan officials were. It was also the first time I got to use my French on this trip which felt great. We noticed that one of the officers had several fingers missing from his right hand; our first encounter with a genocide victim? Already, being in Rwanda was going to be a completely different experience than either of us have ever known
One thing we had to get used to, and get used to quickly, was that we now had to drive on the right hand side of the road. This made overtaking a bit more difficult as the person driving Foxy sits on the right side.
So on top of my role as 'navigator extraordinaire', before I would command "turn right at the next junction", now I had to add "and STAY RIGHT!!"
The first thing we noticed upon crossing into Rwanda was how slim everyone was and there were just as many women officers as men, which impressed me immensely.
The second thing that was pleasantly shocking was the gardens in front and around each and every house. It seems every family takes great pride in having a beautiful garden of fruits and flowers and vegetables. It is just after the rainy season so everything appears that much more green and alive.
A couple of hours later we arrived at Milles Collines Hotel to meet our first Couchsurfing host, Vero
After sweet Gabriel was put to bed, we spent a wonderful evening with her and another one of her friends/colleagues, Gian Pierot, also working here on assignment with the EU and helping out with the upcoming parliamentary election in September. We went out to an Italian restaurant and over some interesting conversation, had lovely pizza and pasta, and although stuffed, us two girls couldn't resist the tiramisu.
Start: Peace of Mind Hotel, Mwanza, TAN. 06:40
End: Vero and Gaby's home, Kigali, RW. 18:15
Distance Traveled: 520 km
Road Conditions: Kasanga to Geita was HORRIBLE dirt track, needed to zigzag through the crater-size ditches and humongous boulders. 15 km took us 87 minutes!
Temperature: nice, then a bit of rain once we entered Rwanda. Evening quite chilly, but in that lovely mountain-air-crispness way.