Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hotel Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda
2 February 2011

We caught the early flight from Dar Es Salaam at 5:10am to Kigali via Nairobi and gained an hour as we moved into Central African Time.  The hills in Rwanda were amazing as we flew into Kigali and a light rain met us on the ground. 

We had a lot of preconceptions or ideas on what to expect in Rwanda from reading lots of books about the genocide and complaints about the fairness of the last elections, but Rwanda has been a weirdly pleasant experience.  We were surprised when the customs people in the airport didn't speak French, and i was taken aback when the plastic bag covering my duffle bag was confiscated.  It turns out that plastic bags are banned in Rwanda in order to protect the environment- which is a great idea in my opinion because too many African countrysides are littered by torn bits of blue and black plastic bags.  I wish more countries would consider doing the same.
Cleaning & painting the curbs, again
Once out of the airport and on our way to the hotel i was amazed to see clean streets!  There was no litter to be seen and squads of locals were painting the curbs an alternating black and white pattern and the city seemed brand new.  Even the roads were freshly paved and smooth.  The next thing that caught my attention was that the city was very quiet- the cacophony of honking horns, loud music, and roaring crowds usually found in African capitals was missing.  Even the people i talked too spoke in hushed voices- almost like living in a library. 
Pool at the famous Hotel Rwanda
We were fortunate to be booked the Hotel Milles Colines, the famous Hotel Rwanda from the Oscar winning movie.  I had recently watched the movie and expected something different, riddled with bullet holes and other damages from the war but the hotel was in great shape.  It wasn't the same as in the movie, but was definitely a high class hotel with a nice pool, bar, and good rooms.  Another unexpected discovery was that the street vendors were selling "the Economist" or "Jeune Afrique" magazines at the hotel gate instead of the usual crowd in other cities that sold cell phone minute cards or the local papers.  The free wifi was greatly appreciated and i surfed the net as i watched the sunset poolside. 

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