Rwanda

Trip Start Jan 03, 1976
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178
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our early border crossing meant we didn't have to wait too long to cross into Rwanda, though to enter you have to fill out an electronic form two weeks in advance and get an approval letter. Except, I didn’t. I tried, several times, but for some reason mine wasn’t working. I felt a little less worried when two others had the same issue, and our guide assured me the reference I had was enough. Still with those things you have a niggling worry it’s not going to be ok, but it was and we walked (yep, you have to get off and cross on foot) across the border and were in Rwanda. Every now and then when on holidays you have that 'oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m in.. " I sure had one of those moments, I mean.. Rwanda! I never would have thought I'd end up there.

We headed first to the genocide museum. It, like many other of these places, exists to serve as a reminder and in the hopes of preventing something happening again. The museum was well set out, with lots of gardens symbolising elements of the genocide or hope for the future, eg. branches providing shelter. Inside there were videos interviewing survivors, who you just have to wonder how on earth they coped. As it’s just too expensive, and there are so many other things to focus on, none of them received counselling. They just had to pick up and move on. Some beautiful stories of those that hid people were told, and in the face of such horror provided a moment of relief. Seeing photos of so many of those missing, including a section where you were introduced to some children who didn’t make it and what their favourite activities had been, added quite a personal touch to something so hard to comprehend. The museum used an elephant as one of its symbols, as of course they don’t forget, including one that was featured with a phone. The elephant was calling the rest of the world to remind us too.

It was amazing to see such little evidence of the genocide where we travelled through Rwanda, maybe the people were a little less enthusiastic about foreigners after the French behaviour during and up to the genocide, and a lack of intervention from most of the rest of the world, but it was still a welcoming and safe environment. There were a few areas by the road with graves, but mostly it was, to us that didn’t live there, as if it hadn’t been, which is an impressive feat for a country and its government.

We also stopped at the hotel the movie Hotel Rwanda had been based on. I was quite surprised at how close to the city it was, and it was now a thriving fancy hotel.
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