|Our Hotel: Chez Lando|
Today, through the pouring rain, we ventured into the city of Kigali and went to an orphanage for street boys called the Rwandan Orphans Project. To get there, we took a Rwandan "bus." I wouldn't call it a bus...it's more like a run-down 15-passenger van that they cram 35 people into at once. Everyone was sitting on top of each other and in the isles. I must say, it was cause for laughter.
|the cramped bus|
|The bus "station"|
|The orphanage buildings|
|The hillside slums|
After a brief meal at a small buffet restaurant just up the street from the orphanage, we caught another Rwandan "bus" to the more downtown area of Kigali. As we traveled, I watched the city pass by. Certainly it was clean, but the evidence of poverty in this place is nonetheless striking. The many hills that compose the city reveal rows of mud huts closely cramped together. At the bus "station" (more like a chaotic congregation of buses and vans all in one blob...), my parents and I split off from the EWB group to go find a handicraft market nearby. Well, we ended up walking for 3 hours through the streets and found no such market. At one point, we trekked up a dirt road and found a sign for a handicraft market. We followed the arrow on the sign down another street only to come to the end of the road and see another sign pointing us the way we had just come. The market must have been invisible, or closed. In the meantime, all the Rwandan people stared and pointed at us Mzungus (white people). The people aren't as friendly as the Tanzanians I met last summer. Maybe it is because of what this little country has been through. On the bright side, that long walk through the city did allow me to see Kigali up close!
Our next adventure was to find the place we were meeting the EWB team for dinner... We were going to Heaven! After asking probably 30 different people where the Restaurant Heaven is, we were about to give up hope that we would ever reach Heaven (no pun intended). A man in a shop lent us his phone and we called one of the team members for directions. After another 30 minutes of aimless wandering, we found it: a lovely little restaurant with an open-air terrace and friendly waiters. I enjoyed getting to know some of the CU students more at dinner.
For my first day in Rwanda, I am satisfied. It is a beautiful country with much to offer. I am excited to learn more! And tomorrow I will meet the little boy my family sponsors through Compassion International. This is already the trip of a lifetime.