I hadn’t realized there was a time change from Uganda to Rwanda. I’d originally thought I’d arrive in Rwanda around 6am and figured that using my “annual free night” certificate at the posh Kigali Marriott could be talked into maybe letting me check in after arriving at 6am.
When we arrived at 4am Uganda time, then I realized we’d changed time zones and were now at 3am, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Of course, they told me I’d need to cough up some of my points balance for that 2nd night. I was so exhausted from the horrible bus ride that I just agreed to transfer points from my balance into the booking after waking up, but ‘please let me sleep now’ type of response.
I set the coolest ‘do not disturb’ sign I’d ever used and went to sleep.
After waking up, I walked around Kigali for a bit, past the city hall and down to the famous Hotel des Mille Collines–better known as ‘Hotel Rwanda’.
Next, I walked down to the former military base and site of the killing of the Belgian soldiers at the outset of the genocide in 1994.
The inside of the building has a lot of information, but it’s obviously a sobering and depressing spot.
From here, I caught a moto taxi for next-to-free down to Genocide Memorial. Intense.
For obvious reasons, you can’t take pictures inside, but I was surprised at how long this had been brewing before the genocide really kicked off and how much of it was Belgium’s fault, to be perfectly honest. They’d stoked racial hatred among the locals to keep them divided during the colonial times, and then it boiled over after Belgium left. In fact, it seemed like Belgium and the UN knew this was going to happen and just didn’t care.
Outside, almost leaving, I had to scold some idiotic (of course, from the US) kid who was talking to his mom on FaceTime and telling her about how beautiful all of the women in Rwanda are. “Shut up! You’re at a genocide memorial!” People never cease to surprise me with how stupid they are.
My every meal was at Preet, an awesome, cheap, vegetarian Indian restaurant that was super incredible.
I also discovered this place on my last day, which was unfortunate.
I was just walking from my hotel to Preet again and noticed this sign outside. I was always looking up at the cool buildings or looking at all of the kids rollerblading and didn’t notice this sign. I stopped in for a coffee and talked to them for a bit on the way back. Check out the Chess Cafe!
My last afternoon in Kigali, I had the hotel help me negotiate a price for a ride PAST the airport, out to the former president’s house, wait for me to take a small tour, and then take me to the airport.
This president had been the head of the military under the first president after independent, and then he took over in a coup. He had the full support of the French & Belgians, who built him this house, complete with secret tunnels and a helipad, in case someone tried to do to him what he had done to the guy before him. No pictures inside, but it’s an art museum now.
Out back was the most interesting part: the plane wreckage. His plane was shot down arriving in Kigali, and he and the President of Burundi were both killed. Rwanda immediately descended into chaos, becoming the genocide for which it’s famous (side note: Burundi has had several Hutu-Tutsi conflicts over the years, but these are less famous and less all-encompassing).
The Kigali airport has a TON of procedures to go through before even getting inside to check in, and then I was off to Tanzania.
This is totally normal on the airplane exit row, right?This entry was posted in Africa, Kigali, Rwanda