Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Congo Trip #7: The Voyage.

So I just came back from a 5.5 day trip to Congo -- of which I travelled more than halve. Rather nuts, but the trip was good fun though.
Getting to Bukavu
I had already visited Brussels to get a Congo-visa. And via internet I obtained a Rwandan entry-visa. Monday afternoon around 4pm my little brother dropped me off at Woerden trainstation from where I took a train to Schiphol. And from there by plane: Amsterdam to Frankfurt, to Addis Ababa, to Kigali. The plan was to prepare for my time in the Congo (so much to do), and to sleep as much as possible because I knew the following few days would be tough. I failed miserably. In the plane to Addis I sat next to a very nice girl from Vienna. We talked for the whole flight (more than 6 hours), and had a coffee in Addis while we waited for our next flights (me to Kigali, she to Lusaka). Once in Kigali I got myself a taxi. Normally I take a bus (5,200 Rwandan francs, around $10), but given I had so little time in Bukavu the risk of arriving late at the border could not be taken so the mode of transport was taxi ($180!). Once across the border, I got myself a motorbike and arrived around 8pm at the hotel. 28 hours in total: I think a record.

And back to the Netherlands
The trip back went smoothly as well. I left Bukavu around noon. Given that my plane would leave from Kigali only at 3am I had enough time to buss myself to Kigali. Unfortunately, upon arrival at the Congo-DRC border all busses were full. Shit! Luckily I had met a friendly aid-worker a few minutes before who gave me a lift to the main bus-station of Kamembe, Rwanda, from where I was able to get a bus to Kigali. It was a lovely ride and, because this trip was booked rather abruptly, instead of my field phone I had my smart-phone with me: full with music. Then after waiting for a few hours at Kigali Airport (and working with Macartan and Raul during these hours), it was: Kigali to Addis, to Frankfurt, to Amsterdam. After another train and car-ride, I arrived home around 8pm: 32 hours in total. Again not that bad.

When travelling by road between Kigali and Bukavu you
go through Nyungwe Forest National Park -- East
Africa's largest protected high-altitude rainforest, and
at times breath-taking.
Haji Nyanza: the ultimate place to eat goat brochette!
I'm not joking. When in the plane I already
look forward stopping here (and all busses always do).

Not only the park, but also the seas upon seas of tea before
and after the park are gorgeous.

And don't to forget the African sunsets. How I love this continent!

I've been using Rwanda as transit country for more than three years
now. Say what you want about Rwanda: the lack of freedom of
(political) expression, their involvement in Eastern Congo, etc. I agree. 
BUT each time I'm there the country developed yet another
bit further. This is visible even at that short track
between Kigali and Bukavu. The busses are getting better and better
each year. Work is done on the road throughout, km-signs are
constructed, etc. A new bus-station is build at Kamembe. Haji Nyanza
(that place with great goat brochettes) created proper toilets. And... 
in Kigali there are now small lights build into the roads. Each
time I'm there the country has taken a step forward. How in contrast
to Congo. 
Once in Kigali I had to get to the Airport. Best mode of
transport: Motorbike!

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