Kagera, the journey out

Our drive to Heathrow might be described as sedate, compared to what came later. The Mercedes was well appointed, but had remarkably uncomfortable seats. Nevertheless Roger, our driver got us there in good time and we entered the security process, with three hours to spare. Christine got pulled over first over the way in which her backpack was packed. Apparently it looked suspicious. I was then pulled over as I forgot that I had some hand wash in my backpack which was not in a plastic bag. Still, it shows that they are very thorough at Heathrow which gives one confidence. We met up with Dorothee and June, our travelling companions and went for coffee and eats at some over-priced food outlet.

We boarded our Kenyan Airways flight on time, but we were then delayed by a storm somewhere nearby. However our flight was comfortable (well, not too painful) and the food was surprisingly good. I watched ‘J Edgar Hoover’ with Leonardo di Caprio and Judy Dench and directed by Clint Eastwood and thoroughly enjoyed it. We managed to doze and arrived in Nairobi more or less on time. We transferred and flew the last hour to Kigali.

The visa is expensive now ($60 for one entry, so we will be paying the same coming home) and takes quite a time but is as nothing as the palaver at the Tanzanian border. Jean-Baptiste and Eugenie were both there to meet us with a ‘Select’ mini-bus and a driver who thought he was Jenson Button. He actually drove quite well, doing well above the Rwandan speed limit and slowing down at every speed check as though he knew where they all were in advance! Perhaps they are always in those places? Perhaps he picked up signals from other drivers? He certainly seemed to be doing hand signals at every driver he passed. He was also very economical on the tyres, preferring to give two of them a rest as we cornered. We eventually escaped his clutches after 2 or more hours, but found we were still about half a mile from the border post. We set off with our cases fending off (foolishly as it turned out) several young men who were keen to act as bearers. About half way along the path Thomas came along with the car and we piled in. Of course the border formalities took forever, but eventually, about three hours later we drove away with our visas and some Tanzanian shillings.

It was great to see Thomas and Asifiwe again and we caught up on news as we bumped along packed like bananas in the land cruiser. A warm meal was waiting when we arrived, cooked by Nora our housekeeper. It was very good. We were tired but Dorothee suggested a walk and it was hard to resist. So we wandered out to the edge of the escarpment and the incredible view across to RWANDA and Burundi. It was a little misty, but nonetheless it was magnificent. We walked around MURGWANZA and were greeted by various people, some we knew, some we didn’t, but it was all very pleasant. I was relieved to get back to Principal’s House and my bed.


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