Rwanda - Amazing Grace
I walked into Butare town, annoyingly missing the road junction to Cyangugu (pronounced "Shan-goo-goo") from where I could hitch, AND the minibus bus-station (from where I could get the next minibus, once it had filled up). In town I found a scheduled service not due to depart for another 3hrs so I walked back to the junction.
I'd bought a nice quilted bag at the museum so I transferred my "handbag" possessions and gave the Mwanza basket to a kid selling paper tissues and biscuits by the roadside. He seemed very pleased but this caused some "difficulty" as an older teenager thought he'd been helping me and if anyone was getting a tip then it should be him. Just at that moment a minibus taxi pulled up; I hastily jumped in and was away.
Others around helped me to confirm the bus was going where I wanted to go and what the fare should be. Not surprisingly they were curious as to where I had come from? was I married? did I have any children? what was I doing? how long would I stay in Rwanda? and whether I would be going to see the gorillas? I told them that the gorillas would be very expensive (US$250) and I'd have to save my money in case I found a wife. Oh yes, wives are very expensive you will have to pay the price of a cow. "Two cows" piped up the tall slender Rwandan girl with long fine plaits beyond her shoulders; everyone laughed. Later she asked me if I was a bachelor? We exchanged names. Grace told me she was an English student at Butare University, now in her long holidays, she was teaching at a town called Nyanza. She was travelling to Cyangugu because her aunt had died; she planned to stay there two nights. Before we parted she gave me her uncle's phone number and temptingly suggested I gave her a call the next day.
Our route took us over the "mountains" of the Nyungwe National Park. Well made and well maintained, the tarmac road twisted and turned as we climbed our way up into the ancient rain forest. With every hairpin bend the passengers were thrown together; black shopping bags were handed out for the weak of stomach. All along the way the road was evenly lined with Rwandan troops, one every hundred metres, I assumed on an exercise but I gather they are based in the forest to protect the road from rebel incursions from nearby Burundi. Curiously they all seemed to be listening to the radio, or were on their walkie-talkies. Rwanda was playing Namibia in an Africa Cup Nations qualifier (which Rwanda won 3-0). As we got higher and higher the views across the forested mountains were outstanding; a deep green that went on forever and so dense, like broccoli.
Rwanda - Amazing Grace