Burundi…yawn. I wasn’t really a fan.
First, I’d had so many issues with trying to get the paperwork organized for my visa while dealing with a disorganized travel agency (who I paid $25 to ‘invite’ me) and a disorganized embassy.
Anyway, I got my visa, went out of the tiny little airport, and found…no van. A guy at the airport called the hotel on my behalf, and basically the hotel manager had confirmed with me via email and then never told the staff. That seems to be a theme with hotels. They also own a cafe in the airport, so the wife of the ownership couple came out to sit with me until the husband came, and we all rode back to the hotel.
I got checked in at the Mt. Zion hotel and enjoyed #6 on this list.
I was famished, since last-minute bookings obviously mean you didn’t get to request a vegan meal on the flight. I saw no recommendations online, so I went with a staple: find the closest Indian restaurant. Tandoor was pretty good.
With the delayed flight, delayed pick-up, and now dinner, it was pitch black outside, and it seemed like there was nothing to do at that hour, so I geared up for a full day of walking around.
First, I walked to the mausoleum of a former prince that you can’t see, unless you bribe a soldier. Nope, next.
Next, I walked to the unity monument. The only unity was the unity of the police in extracting bribes from me for daring to be in that area visiting their landmark.
I walked through the city and over toward the lakeside, stopping at this church en route.
The main thing I wanted to see in Bujumbura was hippos. They come to hang out by the boat club restaurant. I’ve seen amazing pictures of it, so I went there for lunch.
After ordering food, I was then informed that they don’t come until after 3. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have ordered, which is probably why the guy withheld that info.
Nice view over to DRCongo, though.
I needed more cash, so I walked to an ATM and saw the nearby neighborhood.
I then passed the peace park which was, again, roped off and required a bribe to soldiers to enter, so I didn’t go in. I seriously don’t understand why you can’t see any public space or any landmark without bribing someone in Bujumbura. When there’s no ticket booth, no receipt, no sign with a price, and the money is going into some guy’s pocket, you know it’s not an entry fee.
I walked back down to the boat club and sat.
I didn’t see a single hippo. Apparently, it was too cold for them that day. I stayed until I just really couldn’t stay anymore, got a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, and gathered my stuff for the airport.
If I hadn’t missed my flight the previous day, I would’ve had 2 full days in Bujumbura. Instead, I’d had about 24 hours, but that was honestly enough.
En route to the airport, I realized that I’d never gotten my passport back from the employee who made a copy of it the night before. The taxi driver called the hotel who said they’d drive it out to me.
The wife running the cafe at the airport, again, met me and talked to the check-in staff to find out the plane was running late, they would try to wait for me unless just not possible, and I lost my shirt at the money exchange while waiting.
Lo and behold, the hotel owner shows ups with my passport just WALTZING. Like, he was in no hurry at all. I saw him from across the parking lot, went OUT of the airport, ran to him to grab my passport, and ran back inside to check in. Luckily, the plane was still delayed, and I was able to check in. I only made the flight because of this delay. If it had been up to someone driving quickly and pulling up to the front door to run my passport in (the stuff normal people would do in a big hurry), it wouldn’t have happened.
I found Bujumbura boring, I wasn’t impressed by the hotel, and I didn’t see any hippos. If I had had another full day, I seriously don’t know what I would’ve done with my time.
Goodbye, Burundi. Call me if anything gets interesting.This entry was posted in Africa, Bujumbura, Burundi