This morning I woke up at my usual early hour, went for a run on Axe Kindu, and returned home for breakfast. There were new arrivals last night so for a nice change I had camembert with my usual horrible coffee.
At 11 a.m., a car brought me to Tingi Tingi, a widened section of pavement called an "airstrip", located 20 minutes outside Lubutu. Seconds after we arrived, a small plane landed. Out popped three expatriates and their baggage. In response, Kirstin (a Belgian expatriate leaving Lubutu) and I jumped in. The twelve seat plane took off over the thick jungle. Slightly over an hour later we landed in Goma, far eastern Congo.
After a few minutes at the MSF base, I was driven to the border and crossed into Rwanda. What a change! The roads are well paved and have shoulders or sidewalks where people can walk. When I jump on a taxi motorcycle the driver hands me a helmet. There are stoplights and there is currency other than the US dollar.
Thankfully one of the drivers from the MSF base helped me cross the border, travel by taxi motorcycle to the nearest Rwandan bus station, change money, buy a bus ticket, and get seated on the next bus to Kigali. From the border this entire procedure took twenty minutes, unheard of in Congo.
Three and a half hours later the bus arrived. I took another "taxi moto" to the recommended but not very nice Hotel Okapi.
So many things are strange here. There is a lot of traffic. In contrast with the quiet of Lubutu, Kigali is deafening. No one stares at me or says "bonjour" even though I saw few other white people in town. There are sidewalks, lots of traffic signals and glass buildings taller than one story. There is almost everything except ice cream parlors and movie theatres. Of course these were the two things I most eagerly anticipated! Too bad.
The countryside is drastically different here. There are mostly big rolling hills, almost completely deforested of their native trees, every inch divided into square cultivated plots. No matter how steep, nearly all of Rwanda is being used to grow food.
It is overwhelming to be in this city after four months in Lubutu.