A Rwanda Reunion to Start an East African Tour

Monday, August 12, 2013 | Kigali, Rwanda (map)

Left to right: Sylvestre, myself, Rebecca, and Frank swapping new and old stories in Kigali. (Photo courtesy of F. Mugisha)
When the lady friend moved to eastern DR Congo earlier this summer, the same week I moved to Algiers, we made plans to reconvene periodically in our respective new homes or somewhere fun nearby. (Notice I didn't say somewhere in between—the 3,200 miles / 5,200 km of Niger, Chad, and Central African Republic that lie between us aren't known to hold much of interest. And to answer the other question we've heard a lot, no, sadly there are no direct flights.)

For our first meetup, Rebecca and I sketched out an ambitious two-week sweep through East Africa, to include time relaxing on the beach, exploring new places, eating well, and also shopping for many of the random items we can't find in our new homes.

We started in Rwanda, with a quick 24-hour stay in the capital, Kigali, to see friends and former colleagues. Kigali itself has continued to blossom since we last visited, with ever cleaner and better-paved streets, taller buildings and abundant construction, and new businesses sprouting up all around town. Starting with the usual beers and grilled goat at Car Wash (excellent name for a bar, by the way), we bounced among Kigali's many nighttime hangouts, catching up with friends along
the way.

Readers of this blog who remember my friend Sylvestre's stories will be happy to know that he now has a steady girlfriend named Alice (who unfortunately we didn't get to meet on this trip), has a new job as a driver for a German NGO, and is building a house for himself on the outskirts of Kigali. He remains as humble and kind-hearted as ever. My good friend Frank and others who were there are also doing well, and it was a pleasure to see them all, as always. I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to visit these friends and this city.

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