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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: one girl's quest to see the world

Making friends while travelling

UGANDA | Wednesday, 30 December 2009 | Views [643]

I have had the wonderful fortune of meeting fabulous people on this trip through East Africa.  Some of them have been fellow travelers like Ian in Mombasa, Jess and Wen-Li in Zanzibar, and a Georgetown MBA grad working in SF named Christine on my flight to Kigali.  They all have fabulous stories and are on amazing trips themselves, and are happy to share a day or two with me.  

And others are locals who have enriched my trip in other ways.  There was Kim, the Dutch manager of the KIA Lodge in Kilimanjaro, who shared some champagne and her story with me on Christmas.  Seven years in Tanzania has given her all sorts of adventures, but she's a bit lonely at the base of Kili and yearns to try something new.  Nonetheless, she was happy to have some company for Christmas and was a great companion for the day.

Then there was the Belgian family I met this weekend in Rwanda.  Laurie and Mathieu live in Kigali with their son Colin, she teaching for a Belgian primary school and he doing something with hydroelectricity for a Belgian water company.  Their parents and Laurie's little sister, Marie, were in Rwanda for Christmas and they all went up to the Volcan National Parc for the weekend, where Greg and I met them on the hike.  Last I wrote I was heading back to Kigali with them, since they had graciously offered me a ride with them.  But it gets even better: before we reached Kigali they asked if I'd like to stay with them for the night before heading to Uganda. Of course I accepted!

I still was able to spend the afternoon in town, going to the genocide memorial (beautifully done, though hard to complete), checking email, and buying my bus ticket.  Then I headed back to their gorgeous house in the suburbs of Kigali and we had the most fabulous evening around the dinner table, eating soup and bread and cheese and delicious Belgian chocolate, and talking -- some in French, some in English, so all of us could practice.  Their hospitality was amazing and that evening with them was definitely a highlight of my trip.  Perhaps I will make it to Belgium someday soon to say hello again!

Yesterday I took a 10-hour bus from Kigali to Kampala, and while I survived, I don't recommend it to anyone.  The roads in Uganda are terrible, but that doesn't stop the bus driver from pretending he's on the autobahn.  We very nearly tipped over at least three times (even the locals on the bus were fearful) and my window wouldn't shut so when it rained (twice!) I got soaked.  Nonetheless, I'm here and about to set out to explore Kampala with Paul, who arrived last night.  Christina and Melissa return from Murchison Falls tonight and we head to Jinja tomorrow for some amazing whitewater rafting.  

I'm starting week 3 of the trip today and so far, this has been such an amazing adventure. If I don't get to post again before leaving for Jinja, Happy New Year!  Happy new decade, even!

Tags: bus, hbs, hostels, rwanda, travel friends, uganda

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