The old customs post in Butare, southern province. Before independence, Butare was supposed to be the capital of the Belgian Rwanda-Urundi protectorate - and remnants of colonialism are still all around. But it's a compact and clean town, with everything (includig a great supermarket-bakery) within a 5-minute walking radius (and no steep hills!), so we voted it our favorite Rwandan town.
Traditional Rwandan homestead, national museum in Butare
Inside the home - mats everywhere!
The 'back rooms'
On the way to the national museum
Muzungu lunch for the hungry bazungu
Fish farm in Butare
Butare main street at dusk
What happened to the roof?
Butare cathedral, the largest one in Rwanda, was a gift from the Belgian King Albert and Queen Astrid, built in 1936-1937 by 'native porters' (did I hear slavery?).
At the time the cathedral was completed they changed the name of the town to Astrida... and now they're trying to change it to Huye. Leave Butare alone!
The Gatagara school complex - built in 1929
Google? Did you copyright this?
Witegereza signs were everywhere, encouraging parents to talk to their kids about HIV/AIDS related issues
Mt. Huye guesthouse in Butare, which taught us that we prefer hot water to a beautiful garden!
Inside Mt. Huye guesthouse
Celebrating Leil Haseder. Note the gefilte fish following us involuntarily all the way from Israel
Pinanple to make up for the lack of charoshet
Mr. monkey posing for the camera on the way to Nyungwe national park
Nyungwe forest overlooking lake Kivu
Not exactly gorillas in the mist, but we're not picky about our primates
Another cousin looming in the treetops (and the noise they make!)
Rainforest paradise... but why does it have to rain all the time?
Eyal and Daniel going down to the river, which was of course completely overgrown, as if intentionally dodging my curious camera. But take my word - it was there
At last the waterfall! - where the climb back up began. Sadly, the guidebook wasn't kidding when it warned us not to underestimate the steepness of the hills...
Daniel in a treetrunk
Putting on brave faces after almost being exterminated by the steepness of the mille collines
Tea plantation on the western edge of the forest - lucky for us, we got a ride with two nice researchers who took us for some sightseeing
More tea in the mist
Hotel Faucon, another 'colonial echo' in Butare - and one with warm water, at last
Early mornig laundry. Anyone allergic to grass should probably avoid the bedsheets at the Faucon
View from the hotel
And view of the national university campus
The national university in Butare - previously a school for the kids of the Belgian colonizers
The genocide memorial at the university
With Prof. François Ntaganda, who teaches African literature
Back in Kigali - Auberge la Caverne guesthouse
View from Auberge
Sunrise from Auberge
Hotel Des Mille Collines (aka "Hotel Rwanda")
Over 1,000 people were saved here during the genocide!
The Kigali Genocide memorial, highlighting the contrast between all the beauty of Rwanda and its atrocious history (it's quite unbelieable)
Inside they also have a memorial for the other genocides of the 20th century - a powerful and selfless statement
Main roundabout in Kigali center
Saint Famille church, where thousands of Tutsi sought refuge after the start of the genocide, only to be handed over to the interahamwe by the priest who was in charge: http://www.newint.org/columns/essays/2006/06/01/haunted/
An inanasi to sustain us as we get helplessly lost in Kigali
Good lunch after finding our way to Nyamirambo, which will later become our favorite neighborhood in Kigali
Overview of one of Kigali's many hills
Entrance to one of the big markets in Kigali
What could be stored in these barrels? A mystery yet unsolved
Beautiful, colorful Nyamirambo
The Nyamirambo mosque
The anonymous works of Rwandan signpost atists. What would Andy Warhol do?
Sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, passion (aka fashion) fruit, avocados... did I mention that it's all organic? :)
McDoneils dairy - and indeed Rwanda does have quite a selection of good cheeses and pastries!
Nyamirambo is called the 'old' city of Kigali, wonder when it was built?
Characteristics of Nyamirambo - small houses, lots of colors, and VERY clear signposting
Alimentation - meaning what exactly? French speakers, speak up
Carrying masters of the universe
Movie theatre in a big big house
Must say though - taking all these pictures did earn me some dirty looks, so we figured it was safer if I pretended to be taking pictures of Eyal
Starting to get the feel of Nyamirambo yet?
The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village building site - the (future) school, in Rwamagana, eastern Rwanda
The village itself - children's homes
Stunning view overlooking two lakes
With Jean Pierre, head of informal education and all-round great guy
View from the village to the school
Inside a children's home - lots of space, combining privacy and community
View from the village to the lake - where is the closest beach though?
On the way eastwards - development and community work everywhere
'Empty' village - the rain has literally cleared the streets
Entrance to Akagera national park (though officially we never entered, but only went a couple of kms to the guesthouse)
Akagera national park game lodge
With Jean Pierre and his friend Claud, head of the regional police (and a very useful travel companion)
Why did the twiga cross the road?
Quickly! Before the Germans arrive! (too late...)
Just the two of us
Now where is Noah when you're ready for him?
The harmony of vegeterians
Mom, dad and junior
I SHALL cross... I SHALL NOT cross....
I shall definitely not, at least not for YOU
If you stare at me, I will stare right back at you
Efficient drainage system building. And indeed Rwanda is as organized as it seems! Big thumbs up for whoever organizes it all
A Ugandan visitor
At the jambo beach restaurant
Could it be Norway?
With Jean Pierre
Eyal, Jean Pierre and Claud, who arranged a quick and delicious supper
Mr. Crane is not shy
Greedy greedy... you should have heard the noise and fuss this guy made to get a share of supper
Kibuye, western Rwanda, on the shores of lake Kivu. Serene supper at the Bethany guesthouse
Tropical beaches on Rwandan fjords
More singing fishermen
Overview of lake Kivu from Bethany
The peninsula of Bethany
The Kibuye port, receiving the sodas and beers produced at Bralirwa brewery in Gisenyi
With Bizimana and Habimana, both high school students (on holiday), on a semi-guided tour of Kibuye
The view from the cathedral
Another site of atrocities that just can't be imagined
... all that tranquility and beauty, and then the genocide slaps you in the face again
Small fishningharbor right under the cathedral
Another Witegereza sign
Beautiful Kibuye lagoons
If there weren't bananas everywhere...
... I would have said it was Norway
Tree trunk gone canoo
On a boat trip with Bizimana
Napoleon's Hat island (note the welcomong cow on its tip)
The threatening horns could almost seem less than welcoming - but the cow turned out to friendly enough
Island owned by cows and bats, who live and thrive on a rich diet of guavas
Bats, thousands of bats!
Like small flying men
Fishermen and mountains
Laundry on fishing boat
Mr. monkey, poor creature whose life revolves around dumb tourists like us
Yes, Eyal did indeed put food in his pocket for this to take place
Late surprise lunch
Muzungu, you give me my food!
And now its just wishful thinking
Petting will be accepted only when food is finished
And yes, they did tie his butt to a tree. Sorry!
View from Amahoro island
And even more islands on lake Kivu
Bethany guesthouse and restaurant
Outside our room
Guavas from peace island, passionfruit from the market, and mandazis.
Tranquility will do that to you
Bethany at 6 AM
A hidden bay off the beaten track
And - surprisingly - a battleship (and military base) hidden in the bay! Makes sense, as lake Kivu is the border with Congo
Note the European tress planted all over the place, literal seeds of colonialism that seem to still be spreading
I seeeeeeeeeeeee you!
Loving the camera
The smiles you get when you don't understand a word people are saying...
And there really is nowhere to go but into someone's village
Luckily people seem to like surprise visitors, even if the latter have no idea where they're going or what they are being told
This will be used when I embark on a political career
Diary writing at the guesthouse right before taking off to Giseny with Alain and his mom
The way to Gisenyi is 100% mountaneous, which is quite surprising - on the map it looks as if the road is following the coastline
Then again, we realized that only a topograpical map of Rwanda could give us any real idea of what the road would be like
View of Kibuye - can you spot Bethany?
Just your average Rwandan scenery - the whole country is just one big banana republic, literally (and I really don't mean that in a derogatory way)
Tea plantation somewhere between Kibuye and Gisenyi
Alain and Eyal
Tea hill overlooking Gisenyi/Goma bay
Mount Nyiragongo, active volcano - latest eruption in 2002
View of Gisenyi (Rwanda) and Goma (DRC), which are actually just one big town
To our delight, when we came to Gisenyi there was a surprise waiting - one of the architects working on the ASYV had built a hotel on in Gisenyi and given us a room! Who knew we had such good connections?
Mmmmmmmmm...... clean bathroom!
Luxury on our last day in Rwanda. And to make it even more ironic, it was not even 500 meters from the border with Congo (the contrasts, the contrasts....)
Lake View Hotel
Gisenyo beach, early morning
Avenue de Palmier, colonial main street in Gisenyi
Palm Beach Hotel, RIP
Since Lake Kivu is 1,500 m above sea level, the seemingly-tropical beach never gets disgustingly hot - the weather was perfect for walking around
And unlike other places we visisted, here we found dozens, if not hundreds, of people doing their morning exercise
View of the prison
Walking up to the market area
Main street in Gisenyi town, and note Mt. Nyiragongo looming in the background
Mosque and water
Gisenyi expanding up, up and away
And then, all of a sudden, the view chages. Yey for diversity
Insanely good breakfast at the Lake View
Eyal hidig his hungry excitement behind a nonchalant facade
Once again admiring the anonymous art of Rwandan signposts
And the carrying abilities... especially of women!
I could never do that! Respect
Walking to Rubona, we realized yet again that we had been fooled by the flatness of the map - indeed it was a mountain pass
Oh well... the views justify the effort
Rubona bay, fishing village
And home to Rwanda's biggest, if not only, brewery, Bralirwa
Fish here have an extraordinary diet - they get to eat all the leftovers of the brewing process
They say the president has his beach house here
Last look over Rubona
Happy Eyal on a moto, aka boda-boda
More moto views
And here, the proof that I also participated in the madness
Downhill is no fun
On the way back to Kigali, we passed some villages where each house had this inscription. Turns out this was an area still notorious for maintaining Hutu extremism, so the government made people write over their doors "this village has eradicated the ideology of genocide with its roots". Impressive, no?
Alain and Mary on the outskirts of Kigali
Caplaki craft market
Carrying - potatoes? Maracuja? Charcoal?
National craft - weaving
Haha... who wants to be on the Titanic 2?