Tag Archives: Africa

27 hours in seat F3

17 Nov

Sunrises are generally a very tranquil moment to reflect on your life but when you watch two consecutive ones from the same bus seat they sort of lose their appeal. I needed to leave Burundi due to visa issues and I found a bus that took me from Bujumbura to Dar es Salam, the only catch was that it took 27 hours. I luckily got a seat at the back of the bus in the middle so I could put my legs down the aisle but that is where the luxury stopped. There were 5 seats in the back row with 7 people squeezed into them. For the next 27 hours I sweated in my seat but I eventually made it to my destination. $20 for a 1509 km bus ride, I think this is one time I should have shelled out for something a little nicer.

Foggy

The Black Market

12 Nov

Have you ever wondered where your nice camera or laptop goes after you’re robbed? In East Africa the black market trade is actually pretty sophisticated. Anything stolen in Kampala will immediately get sent to another major city like Bujumbura or Kigali so there is no way of tracing it. From there the goods are sold and whatever extra the seller gets for the product he keeps and then sends the rest to where the good came from. You can get almost anything for very cheap if you know the ‘right’ people but this traveler decided to keep Karma on his side and turned down the temptation.

Foggy

Access Denied to the DRC

12 Nov

Tried making a quick trip across the border into the DRC but got denied on the Congo side. Lucky for Mathieu though as they wanted us to pay a lot of money for us to come back into Burundi but he negotiated a much better under the table price.

Foggy

Meeting Mathieu

12 Nov

I was using my best French to talk to the information ladies in Bujumbura to figure out how much taxis costed around the city when a young guy came up and started talking to me in English. He was a university student on holiday break and he said he would just drive us around if I covered the gas. He ended up being much more than a guide as he showed me much more than the average tourist sees. We toured the black market since he needed a new laptop and we even tried getting into the DRC but even his persuasion skills couldn’t quite manage that. I also needed an extension on my visa which costs $40USD but he had friends in high places and only set me back $10, which I am sure ended up in a pocket. It is always great to be shown around by someone who really knows a city well and a huge thanks to Mathieu for doing that!

Foggy

Avoid non-essential travel

8 Nov

The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has the following to say about Burundi:

 OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Burundi. While the general situation in the country has started to stabilize as a result of peace agreements between the National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebel group and the Government of Burundi, sudden outbreaks of violence and civil unrest are still likely to take place throughout Burundi, including around FNL demobilization camps. There are large amounts of small arms and weapons in circulation, easily available to various groups. Violent attacks and ambushes by former soldiers, rebel forces, and youth gangs against humanitarian workers, including foreigners, occur frequently. These incidents include robbery and murder. The presence of refugees returning from Rwanda and Tanzania also continues to exacerbate tensions.

Like the sensible traveler I am, after reading this I decided to go anyways. I am definitely glad I made the decision because Bujumbura was an amazing city. I didn’t feel unsafe once and people were a lot more welcoming then they were in the neighbouring country of Rwanda. The one thing people in Bujumbura know how to do well is party and it doesn’t matter what night of the week it is, naturally I fit in quite well. The local drop was Amstel Bock and you can guess this traveler had his fair share.

Foggy

Bujumbura, Burundi.

Rwanda Genocide

8 Nov

In 1994 approximately 800 000 people were murdered in Rwanda over 100 days as the international community stood by and watched. The killing was between the Hutu and Tutsi, definitions given out during the colonization period in the 1800’s. Today Rwanda is perfectly safe but the scars of such a recent tragedy are still apparent. A visit to the capital Kigali can not be done without stopping by at the Genocide Memorial. There is a mass grave here on sight as well as a museum. The museum is by donation with an audio tour costing you $13 ($10 if you have a “valid” student ID like me). The museum is in three parts with the first taking you through Rwanda’s history from the beginnings all the way up to today. The second part of the museum compares this genocide to others that have happened over history. The last part of the museum is when things really hit home as it shows you pictures of children killed during the genocide, and tells you tales of what there favourite things were. It then tells you one by one how each were killed or what their last sight was. It is quite a sombre experience but something you must do if in the country. You can also take a 40 minute bus ride from Kigali to Nyamata where there are two churches where mass murders took place.

I was lucky enough to bump into a guy who was my age at the bar, which would have made him seven during the genocide. He was a Tutsi and told me the story of how him and his family hid in a hole in the ground for three weeks. His father was killed just feet from the covered hole when he left to find the family bananas. The rest of them eventually made their way to Uganda where they were safe until things were over. I asked him how the country can get along now knowing what happened. He went on to mention that the only way for their country to move forward is for the one side to forgive and the other side to ask for forgiveness. He said that without this their country would be stuck in a vicious circle and never get anywhere. Very forward thinking as I don’t know if I would have had the same level head if my dad would have been killed. My hat is off to the Rwandan people who are making leaps and bounds in the recovery from such an atrocity not too many years ago.

Foggy

Rwanda Genocide

6 Nov

In 1994 approximately 800 000 people were murdered in Rwanda over 100 days as the international community stood by and watched. The killing was between the Hutu and Tutsi, definitions given out during the colonization period in the 1800’s. Today Rwanda is perfectly safe but the scars of such a recent tragedy are still apparent. A visit to the capital Kigali can not be done without stopping by at the genocide Memorial. There is a mass grave here on sight as well as a museum. The museum is by donation with an audio tour costing you $13 ($10 if you have a “valid” student ID like me). The museum is in three parts with the first taking you through Rwanda’s history from the beginnings all the way up to today. The second part of the museum compares this genocide to others that have happened over history. The last part of the museum is when things really hit home as it shows you pictures of children killed during the genocide, and tells you tales of what there favourite things were. It then tells you one by one how each were killed or what their last sight was. It is quite a somber experience but something you must do if in the country. You can also take a 40 minute bus ride from Kigali to Nyamata where there are two churches where mass murders took place.

 I was lucky enough to bump into a guy who was my age at the bar, which would have made him seven during the genocide. He was a Tutsi and told me the story of how him and his family hid in a hole in the ground for three weeks. His father was killed just feet from the covered hole when he left to find the family bananas. The rest of them eventually made their way to Uganda where they were safe until things were over. I asked him how the country can get along now knowing what happened. He went on to mention that the only way for their country to move forward is for the one side to forgive and the other side to ask for forgiveness. He said that without this their country would be stuck in a vicious circle and never get anywhere. Very forward thinking as I don’t know if I would have had the same level head if my dad would have been killed. My hat is off to the Rwandan people who are making leaps and bounds in the recovery from such an atrocity not too many years ago.

 Foggy 

(Photo to come due to slow internet)

 

 

Rwanda Border

4 Nov

I was told that for Canadians you had to obtain your visa online before you got to the border. The form is very simple to fill out and can be found at the following address https://www.migration.gov.rw/singleform.php. It tells you that it will get back to you within three days with your visa in an attachment you will print out and take to the border. Three turned into five and I still had not received anything, so I said screw it and headed to the border. We got there early in the morning and they certainly were not happy about me not having a visa but American dollars always seem to smooth things over in Africa and I got my stamp and entry into the country. Another thing to remember at the border is that plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda so leave them at home as your bag gets thoroughly searched for the contraband and you can be subsequently fined.

Foggy

Mzungu the Local Celebrity

3 Nov

While wandering through East Africa you will begin to wonder who is this Mzungu you keep hearing about. You always seem to just miss him as people always start yelling his name while you are around. Mzungu is obviously the word for a foreigner and as a white man in Africa you kind of stick out a little… Children run to the road side to shout out your Mzungu name and wave at you. It’s definitely fun but after a while this travel bum realized this is the closest he’s ever getting to celebrity status. Until next time my Mzungu’s.

Foggy

When in Uganda…

2 Nov

Who wouldn’t want to beer bong on The Nile if you had the chance?

Foggy