Travel to Rwanda

Trip Start Mar 14, 2013
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13
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Trip End Apr 05, 2013


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Where I stayed
Chez Lando

Flag of Rwanda  ,
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This morning I was up before the dawn again. I was concerned about the visa issue so I wanted to be at the airport as early as possible to check in and get through immigration. That way my stay would be very close to exactly 72 hours, in case I had to argue the point. Kenya Airways opens for check-in three hours before flights, so I wanted to be there at 7:00 for a 10:00 am flight. Moïse, wanting to be helpful was a little early and I had built in some error margin too. That meant I actually arrived at the airport about 6:45. I thanked Moïse and we said our goodbyes and then I pulled my suitcases up to the door where I was told the counter wasn't open yet, so I could only wait in the arrival area. To go in that door, I had to put all my bags through a metal detector. I sat on a bench and read on my ipad, which I noticed now had a non-functional gyroscope. I’ll have to have that fixed when I get home.

At 7:00 I walked over to the departure door only to be told again that check-in was not open. In the end Kenya Airways didn’t open their check-in counter until 90 minutes before the flight. I could have slept another hour and had breakfast.

When I finally got to the departure door, the big ((physically) official took my passport. He checked the visa. Then he asked to see my itinerary – he was checking flight times. Finally he turned to me looking grim "It is finished" he said. I hoped he was only talking about the visa…. But he handed me my papers and sent me on for someone else to deal with. I checked in and filled out my departure card, and handed all that to the immigration official. To my relief he either didn't notice the date discrepancy or decided not to make an issue of it. He casually stamped my passport, and I didn't tarry.

The flight left a few minutes early and the little Brazilian Embraer jet took half an hour to get us to Kigali. We ascended through heavy clouds and there was quite a bit of turbulence.

On our rainy arrival in Kigali I quickly cleared formalities. I didn't see Mr. Mundeli waiting, I figured he had been prevented from coming, so I agreed to take a taxi. As we were walking through the parking lot, I noticed Mr. Mundeli and a driver heading in. I called his name and he came over with a smile, noting that I was quite early. I dismissed the taxi driver and we walked to the car for the short drive to my usual hotel Chez Lando. Lando Ndasingwa, who who opened the hotel, was and professor and moderate politician who was killed with his Canadian wife and his children at the start of the genocide. Surviving family members run it now. General Romeo Dallaire mentions warning Lando of the plot on his life, in the book Shake Hands with the Devil (a fascinating if gut-wrenching read.)

Mr. Mundeli and I spent an hour discussing the situation in Rwanda and our plans for the next few days, and the needs of the church here. There is quite a bit to be done, but most of it will be done Saturday. We discussed baptismal counseling, the association documents in preparation to be submitted under new national laws, some interesting Bible questions, two children to be blessed, some requests for assistance and several other questions. Mr. Mundeli would be available Thursday or Friday, he has to work on his taxes which have gone up and gotten much more complicated. Sounds familiar….

We continued our discussions over lunch at the Chez Lando barbecue restaurant famous for its goat brochettes, although more beef brochettes and being served now, they’re a little more expensive and less tough: proof that the country is becoming more prosperous.

In the early afternoon he left after making transportation arrangements. The rains have been unseasonably heavy the past weeks, which could make the trip to Giti challenging. The road up the mountainside can become very treacherous under heavy rains. I decided that unlike usual I would rent a 4WD to help ensure I can get up and back without getting stuck or sliding off the road.

I also decided that since we had taken care of what needed to be done immediately and because Mr. Mundeli had urgent personal issues to which to attend that I would take the day off tomorrow.

I spent the afternoon working and preparing for my outing.

For dinner I tried a new place: the restaurant hellénique: the only Greek restaurant in Kigali. The restaurant has a beautiful plunging view of central Kigali across a valley. Stars twinkled in the night sky, and slight cool breeze drifted through as I watched rivers of headlights on hillside roads.

 As I sat down a suited waiter came up and gave me the menu. He announced in French without any prompting “I am from Congo, I am not Rwandan”. I asked from what part of the country. “Bukavu” he answered. I told him I had been to the border there and we talked about how beautiful the area is. He suddenly shifted directions. “Would you be interested in any masks?” He was apparently running a little business on the side. I told him I had many masks at home and my wife didn't want me to bring any more. I joked that my daughters sometimes refer to our house as an African museum. Instead of a joke, he saw an opening: “Ah you have a wife and daughters, all women love gifts, you must bring them some jewelry…” And it just so happened that he had some available! I thanked him and said they had quite a bit of African jewelry. He was persistent, but finally realized there would be no sales to me. He left me alone after that, and I enjoyed my meal in peace.

The moussaka was very good, but the meze was a bit disappointing, the feta was bland and very soft and the dolma seemed like it had been thawed and warmed, but the tzatziki  was good. Perhaps because we spend two weeks last summer in Greece and really enjoyed the fresh local cuisine, I may be too critical. I’m sure it’s hard to get feta and other Greek ingredients in the heart of Africa. In any event it was something to try once at least.
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Comments

Tess Washington on

Wonderful Mr. Meeker! You were able to leave Burundi with no hassle! Chez Lando sounds familiar by now...and Mr. Mundeli as well. I had dolmas for my lunch yesterday...Greek foods are delicious. It sounds like your day is hassle-free...I breezed through this blog! Thank you!

Lenna Slaughter on

I'm so thankful that your departure was (somewhat) uneventful. Hopefully, the rest of your trip will go smoothly as well.

Bernard on

So glad you didn't get in trouble with the visa, and were able to do all you had to do. We are with you in thoughts and prayers, as always.

HABUMUGISHA EMMANUEL on

I liked info from Joel

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