Day 1: wandering/errands/Kigali nightlife

We’ve had an eventful first full 24 hours in Rwanda.

I woke up early—half jetlag and half desire to blog—and sat on our porch and took advantage of the fact the wifi was working. Breakfast was a fruit salad of pineapple, banana and passion fruit, and dark Rwandan tea.

We were itching to see the neighbourhood by daylight, so a group of us set out for a walk after breakfast, wandering down the dusty red road.

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After lunch we had a short orientation with a couple of the in-country staff members. We discussed appropriate dress (cover up during the day, but at night clubs almost anything goes), and manners (thumbs up and the middle finger mean the same thing here as they do at home). Then it was lunch, more steaming plates of rice and potato and stew.

In the afternoon we ventured into the city to go to the UTC mall and run some errands. Kigali is divided into neighbourhoods perched on the various hills. Almost every place we go seems to have an incredible view of another area of the city, all red roofs and green grass and dirt roads.

At the mall we walked through an airport-style security scanner in the entrance before being allowed in to exchange money and buy cheap cell phones and sim cards to use in the country. Then we popped into Bourbon, the Rwandan version of Starbucks, for iced coffees and a chance to sit and trade new +250 phone numbers.

We had dinner back at the house, then I showered and changed before our first night in the city.

Months ago, when we were preparing for this trip, our professor, Allan, told us that he wanted to show us that there is more to Africa than war and starvation. This was proved at a trio of three bars (complete with lip-synching and dance performances, live reggae music, and light-strobed dance floors), gigantic Rwandan beers (twice the size and less than half the cost of their Canadian counterparts, but you have to specify when you order if you want it served cold), and some stereotypically embarrassing Canadian dancing. Our inter-bar transportation came in the form of a white van Allan affectionately dubbed the Muzungu-mobile.

We arrived home tipsy and tired. The group gathered in the kitchen to devour dinner leftovers, but I slunk away, grateful to crawl into bed, put in headphones, and enjoy some quiet time before falling into a dreamless sleep.

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