A trip to Gisenyi

After spending our first 10 days in Kigali and the area around the orphanage, we ventured to Giseyni, a city in the northwest corner of the country, for few days this week. Tucked away in Rwanda’s northwestern corner, Gisenyi is serene and spectacular. Its signature feature is Lake Kivu, a sizeale body of water similar to our beloved Great Lakes.

The trip was, in some ways, a mini-vacation. We enjoyed breakfast steps from the lake—crepes, omelets, the BEST bananas ever, and Rwandan coffee, took a boatride around part of the lake (free ride thanks to Floriane’s friend!), and drove to see the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Don’t worry, we didn’t try and cross it. On our way back to NCV yesterday we stopped at a resort situated at the foot of 3 extinct volcanoes.  This also happens to be where Rwanda’s famous gorillas live. No, we didn’t see any. If only we had $500 laying around to take the official expedition to see them….

Here’s a few quick thoughts on the trip

1. Borders matter. Seems obvious, right? But I never appreciated how important an imaginary line can be.  On the Rwandan side of the border we were able to enjoy a relaxing few days at a nice resort and walk around the city freely in the evening. Yet just a few miles away, across the border in DRC, armed conflict is not a distant memory; it’s a daily reality. Displaced Congolese continue to stream into Rwanda, as evidenced by the refugee camp we passed on the drive to Giseyni. Due in large part to Rwanda’s cleanliness, it was all the more striking to see the depravity of the camp.

2. To begin to understand a country, even one as small as Rwanda, it is crucial to see different regions. This trip was invaluable in this regard, and I’ll try and write a bit more about this in a later post.

3. Rwanda is beautiful. Seriously.

Sadly our internet connection isn’t fast enough right now to upload photos here, but hopefully we can get some up soon. Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of Rwanda’s independence from Belgium. Celebrations will be going on nationwide, and we are planning on attending some of the events in Kigali. Should be an interesting day!

-DO

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