Saturday, August 1, 2009

From Nairobi Airport, Kenya.

I wrote this post while sitting on a plane from Kigali (Rwanda) to Nairobi (Kenya). At the moment I am in Nairobi; there is WIFI here. :). Yes, Simon and I are on our way back home. Yesterday morning, at 8am, we were picked up by an IRC car, passed the DRC-Rwandan border, got our usual amount of stamps and signatures, and arrived at Kamembe airport.

Breaking rules.
The flight from Kamembe (Rwanda) to Kigali (ibid) was arranged by IRC’s logistics department. At arrival at Kamembe airport, unfortunately, we noticed that my ticket was missing. Of course, my booking should be in a computer somewhere. The question was: Where? The computer at the airport was (of course) old and the network was (of course) down. After a lot of calling around they verified that I had booked a ticket, but they couldn’t find my ticketnumber. The latter was crucial (at least for them), and without it I was not allowed to board. After waiting for a while, the plane standing ready to take off, having slept little, and myself having a tendency not to like waiting, I weighted my bag myself, and told them that I was getting on the plane, and that they can fill out the ticketnumber later on. Also my bags were untagged; following the rules, the security officer couldn’t let me through. I gave her a stern look and I told her that there are only 11 people on the plane and that I would be able to find my bag back. I then walked to the plane and boarded. What is the moral of this story? Westerners constantly complain (me including) that there are no rules in Africa, and if there are rules nobody follows them. Well, in contrast to the DRC there are rules in Rwanda. Of course, who is the first person to break the rules after just entering Rwanda… me, the white guy. :)

After a short flight, and a stopover in Giseny (a big Rwandan city next to Goma), we arrived in Kigali; the capital of Rwanda. There are four things Simon and I immediately noticed: 1. Most roads are paved; incredible! 2. Security agents have shotguns instead of AK47s. 3. There are buildings that are higher than 1 story and are not about to fall down! 4. There are no soldiers on the road, and the police that is around actually seems to know what it is doing.

After passing by the bank (in contrast to Bukavu, we can get money here), and checking into hotel Okapi, we visited the 1994 Genocide Memorial Museum; this was very impressive. We did some work in the hotel’s restaurant (with some Primus and salty peanuts). We had dinner at an Indian place (great food). We watched an episode of The Wire (Avon Barksdale was being shot at). And after a ‘nap’ of two hours, we were picked up at 1am by a taxi to bring us to Kigali International Airport.

Warm shower.
There is a very important thing that I should not forget to mention. We had a warm shower! After two months, we had a warm shower! With warm water! Absolutely brilliant! Just before 1am the following sounds could be heard from our bathroom:
“f* brilliant!”
“I feel alive!”
“This is f* amazing!”
It is a fantastic experience to take a warm shower after two months of taking cold-water bucket showers.

So, today we will be flying from Kigali to JFK. We left our hotel this morning at 1am and are expected to arrive at our apartments on the island at around 11pm. That is, with stopovers in Nairobi and Amsterdam, this will be a trip of around 28 hours! It is 634am now, so 'only'22.5 hours to go. Oh Joy!

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