So I had always heard about Kampala and Kigali being Cities of hills or something of the sort. In my head, I understood Rwanda to be a country of many hills. What I didn’t expect at all, would be that the city is actually on hills. Not one hill, several hills. To explain it a bit, take Ngong hills, move them around to be like a circle around each other..not a straight line. Then now imagine buildings on the hills.
Some hills look really official. With tall buildings only. I saw it and thought damn- that’s a real beauty right there. Yaani tall sophisticated buildings on top of hills. Its like God meeting with man. The beauty that ensues. At night that hill is the most lighted one with kinda yellow lights because of the working streetlights. I saw it the first time at night and its like a sky on earth- the lights look like many stars have fallen on that hill.
Still on the hills, what that means is that everything is scattered around the hills. To visit Kigali Memorial Genocide center, I had to pass by or across two hills. For me it was an added adventure. Then to get from there to another place- same story, meaning I went through almost the whole of Kigali today.
Besides those beautiful hills, comes their boda bodas. Those things are efficient. Like really efficient. To move around Kigali, I would highly recommend them. I saw some buses plying the city but for a newcomer like me, that would need really detailed instructions and directions of where to alight and which corners to take from there. Something I can’t risk right now.
Why? Language barrier. As I mentioned here, the number of people who speak English here is limited. Really limited. Even the manager of the place I’m staying knows some English, but not in a deep way as to hold a long conversation with. What that means is that I’ve gotten lost twice.
So I get from the Genocide Memorial Center and decide to visit the Presidential Palace Museum. I stop a boda boda guy and ask if he knows the place. He repeats the words presidential palace and nods and I get on the bike. And we go from that hill, through the official hill i’m telling you about. The roads are cleaner than you’ve heard and they’ve planted some really beautiful palm trees in between the roads. Yaani even the ride felt heavenly on those roads.
So anyway, we go and go and swerve and go. Longest ride I’ve heard so far and the most beautiful. So guess where my boda guy takes me? To a school. Kigali Secondary school or something of the sort. Its really posh though (hehe), I think only rich kids go there. Anyway, it wasn’t my destination, so we kinda ‘argue’ for 5 minutes as I refuse to alight. In my head, this boda guy is tired of me and wants to drop me here and leave( forgive my experience with Kenyans). But he convinces me to get in the school by going in with me. I walk while opening google map to check how lost I am. The reason I never wanted to open the phone in the first place was because my phone was almost off. Like 5%remaining, and as I mentioned, I was going to a museum, at least I wanted a pic or two, plus to get from the museum to anywhere else, I certainly needed my phone- coz clearly, my word of mouth was misleading me to schools instead of museums.
So a man sees us coming and comes to greet us. The guy talks Kinyarwanda with him and after they finish speaking, he asks me where I want to go. Guess where the problem was? The word Palace or place. I think in their language one of those words means a school. So this guy brought me to where he thought I wanted. Just to be surprised when I say ‘School NO’. He explains to him where I want to go..and we laugh about it as he takes me only 10 minutes away.
For me I think my experience here has been made more beautiful by the language barrier. It forces me to get out of my comfort zone completely. Including using hand gestures. I remember in high school we had this teacher who used to speak with a lot of hand gestures. That used to fascinate me , but I thought that with my quietness, I may never get to use them- since talking itself is getting out of my comfort zone to begin with. Now it comes naturally when I have to explain using signs and symbols that I’m looking for a charger- reminds me, incase you are coming to Rwanda- carry a two pin charger. All their sockets are two pin. All of them. Designed in such a way that a three pin one can’t enter.
But I’ve met a drunkard who speaks English. He was drunk already. You should have seen my joy! Which brings me to the last thing about Kigali;
The people of Rwanda.
Kindest souls I’ve met. Like real kindness. All boda boda guys have been really patient with me. To the extent that I now have to throw my Kenyan mindset away. They mean good( even when they take me to schools hehe 🙂 . To the hotel I took lunch today. To the hotel I’m staying at. They are so kind its almost magical. Its not something they show to foreigners, its who they are. Their goodness shines through in the way, if I ask one who doesn’t speak English, instead of leaving me alone or walking away, they take me to someone who does and wait till I get help. That has happened to me so many times. Their kindness kinda makes me wonder though, if they are this good from the soul inside out, how on earth did the Genocide happen? Read about my Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Here.
Otherwise, I need to get out of this town..before my thoughts tell me otherwise. I have other places to visit but my whole self feels so at home here that I found myself thinking of extending my stay here. But so far, Kigali is that soothing City that makes you forget your worries and instead just live in the moment. It soothes in such a way that you just don’t want to leave.