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Kiara's Amazing Travels


RWANDA | Thursday, 30 July 2009 | Views [460]

Ok so Rwanda basically deserves its own blog because it was so unreal. After my b'day weekend in Kisumu with a group of friends, I decided to go with Scott to Rwanda for a week. He speaks French (one of the local languages) and had contacts with a local family there, so it seemed like a really good opportunity to tag along with him. Getting there was a pain in the butt!! We ended up in four different matatus (mini vans) and then finally on the bus after a 4 hour wait at the bus station!!! Arriving in Rwanda we were met by one of Scott's friends and taken to his house in Kigali, the capital, where we stayed.

Some of you might know about Rwanda's history and the genocide that happened there in 1994 but I'll give you a quick overview anyways. Over 800,000 people were massacred in an attempt by the Hutu's (majority tribe) to wipe out the Tutsis (minority tribe). Over two thirds of the population were displaced and men, women and children massacred mercilessly with machetes and clubs. There were other smaller genocides and events leading up to this, but in 1994 this all happened within the space of a few months. So here we are in Rwanda now in 2009 and you really wouldn't know that they had suffered such a horrific and devastating tragedy. In comparison to Kenya, Rwanda is so much more organised and clean. They have a much more honest and more effective government that has helped to pick them back up and build a peaceful and cooperative city again. It really is a beautiful place and is also known as the 'country of a thousand hills'.

What we got up to....

We did a tour of Kigali city and saw the actual Hotel Rwanda (you might have seen the movie) where a hotel manager sheltered people during the genocide. We visited a few other city attractions but the best by far was the memorial centre. It was very educational and at the same time disturbingly honest and brutal. We saw thousands of photos of people who had been murdered, childrens clothing taken from some of the victims and even skulls and bones, some you could see where the skulls had been beaten in. We also spent another day traveling for a few hours to see another memorial in the South West of Rwanda, near Butare. This one was something that you would never ever see at home, I don't think people would allow it. During the genocide, people in the surrounding areas were advised to seek refuge at a local school where they would be safe. They were advised by church leaders and government officials who were trying to gather as many Tutsis together as possible. When approximately 50,000 men, women and children were in the school, rebels came with machetes and clubs and massacred them all. The memorial is actually at that school and is basically 25 rooms of dead bodies on tables, stacked on top of each other. The bodies were buried and then removed a year later to be put on display in remembrance of what happened. The bodies are preserved with lime powder so it was very confronting, especially because some of them still have hair on their heads after 15 years. I have to say it was a good experience but I don't know if I would recommend it to anyone. It was very intense, heartbreaking and eye opening all at the same time.

So onto more fun and enjoyable experiences. In my opinion the best thing we did while in Rwanda was climb Mt. Bisoke which is a dormant volcano in the north of the country. We were interested in doing the gorilla trek but unfortunately it was too late to get a permit (probably a good thing anyway because it was so expensive). So here I am before the trek thinking 'this probably won't be too hard'....how wrong I was. After 4 hours of climbing, and I stress the word climbing because it was so damn steep, we finally reached the top to pass out and have a break!! Needless to say I was very proud of myself because I was the first girl, and the third person to reach the top - GO ME!!! On the summit it was extremely misty and cold, we couldn't see off the mountain, but we could see inside the volcano which is basically a big lake now. After having some snacks we climbed down, well I tried to climb but ended up slipping and sliding down because of my inadequate shoes. Scott helped me majority of the way down, thank god for him otherwise I would have been in much worse shape. I also have to mention especially for Mamo's sake that I split my pants on the way up because it was so steep!! Lol now we've both experienced it haha!!

That's a really quick overview of our time in Rwanda, but I'm really glad that I went. It was an amazing and changing experience, especially seeing all the memorials and learning about the history. I'm writing this blog now while chilling out at the homestay in Nairobi. I have two more nights here until I'm on my way to EGYPT!!!!! Can't wait to go there but at the same time I'm a bit sad to leave Kenya. I can't believe I've been away from home for 2 months now...thats crazy its gone sooooooo fast. I've definitely enjoyed every moment here and haven't had any problems, although my friends the other day were on a bus that got hijacked!!! Guys with guns etc... so it just goes to show that it can be quite dangerous, thankfully I've been lucky. But despite that I've loved every minute and so far it's been the best experience of my life....... Missing you all more and more xoxoxo

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