I recently took a trip to next door Rwanda to be there for my friend’s birthday and also to get out of the hustle and bustle of Nairobi for a few days. Time out is my new middle name these days it seems, lol. I’m always looking for a getaway here and there and it’s actually not such a bad obsession as it really helped me clear my head and get me ready for the next chapter of my life i.e. returning to school for a Masters.
Enough digressing though. My wanderlust addiction took me to one of the most peaceful and most serene countries in East Africa; Rwanda. I was in the capital- Kigali where my good friend @DreamSmurf from college hosted me at her family’s home. When they said Kigali is the land of a thousand hills, they never lied. Hills on hills on hills! A photographer’s dream with all the scenic backdrops against the magic that is the East African sun as you can see in the very first picture I took below. We were driving into town and I managed to catch that shot really quickly using my phone. Yay to the awesomeness of the iPhone 6 camera. I was here for about 5 days and in such a short time I learnt quite a lot about this small but resilient city.
The Food: My foodie self had to make sure to eat everything I could get my hands on and in Kigali – Starch is life. Starchy foods are basically their staple food. A lot of bread, rice, potatoes, plantains… Needless to say, I went on a week long detox after I got back home because I have never eaten so much starch in all 3 meals of the day EVERYDAY. Not complaining though, who doesn’t love a baguette, home fries and fried plantains all at once right?
Kigali doesn’t have as diverse a food culture as Nairobi i.e. they don’t have as many fast food restaurants as we do back home. Aside from A casual pizza place downtown and A casual place for fries and chicken… there’s not much else. Most restaurants are within hotels so it’s either always fine dining or just eat home cooked food. The upside of this is it forces one to eat organic food at all times which is always a good thing, downside.. when that fastfood craving hits… You can’t really have your pick at what to eat.
The People: So beautiful! Rwandese people were specially made I tell you. Both men and women are stunning and it’s that natural beauty that strikes you at first glance. And I don’t know if it was just the people I got to meet but Rwandese people seem to be a very chill, very relaxed crowd. No need to rush anything, no sense of urgency and very laid back attitude all over the place. Makes one feel bad for even trying to stress or worry haha. The language barrier could be a problem for those visiting as most of the locals only speak French and/or their native language i.e. Kinyarwanda. Coming from Kenya I could note some similarities between the Rwandese language and Swahili as some words are quite similar. My friend’s dad speaks fluent Swahili so at least I could communicate with him quite well, her mum says she still finds English a challenge but we could still communicate so you’re not too badly off Mrs Kanimba! My friend and her siblings all went to school abroad and thus speak perfect English and French and Kinyarwanda. So cool to be trilingual like that.
The people of Rwanda have really come a long way from the genocide era. I visited the genocide memorial while there… The saddest thing. So many years later and the emotions it still evokes is powerful. I could not believe how low humanity had sunk at the time. I applaud all the souls that fought to protect their own and lost their lives doing so and I also applaud all those who confessed their wrongs eventually and sought forgiveness from their fellow brothers and sisters as peace was being restored back in the country. If ever you are in Kigali, please make a point of visiting the memorial, it will inspire you in so many ways.
The Weather: Amazing! I love the sun and the sun loves me. That is all haha.
Kigali as compared to Nairobi barely has any traffic Thank God! Anyone who knows me knows how the Nairobi traffic drives me crazy every single day and I think that is the one reason I could easily move elsewhere. The peace and quiet was a welcome change to the chaos and noise that surrounds me in Nairobi (I live on a highway so – constant noise argh!). My friend’s sister is recently engaged and one of the SEVEN ceremonies that happen before, during and after the wedding happened while I was there. I cannot remember what it was called but it’s an occasion when the parents of the bride to be go to meet the parents of the groom to be for the very first time. I remember Beline (Bride to be) was so very anxious because her parents are very chill and easy going as opposed to her fiance’s parents who are quite the opposite haha. The meeting went well though, both parents can tolerate each other and now we have a wedding to plan! The next time I shall be in Kigali will be for her wedding so watch this space for the pomp, colour and celebration that is a Rwandan wedding.
Major thanks to the Kanimba family for hosting me, I loved every single moment there and Rwanda is definitely a country I would love to visit once more.