Amsterdam to Kigali

You always seem to meet the most interesting people on airplanes. Carol and I couldn’t get seats together so ended up sitting with others. Carol’s seat mate was a dutch businessman who is friends with the rwandan president. Before we left Kigali airport he handed Carol his card and said that if we had any trouble to call him. Works for me 🙂 My seat mate was a lovely lady from Iowa who is a farmer and volunteers every year with a University extension operation that helps poor women in Uganda set up market garden operations. The flight went quickly – KLM took good care of us. The drive Thursday to volcanoes national park and the gorilla mountain lodge where we are staying for the next couple of nights was spectacular – our driver/guide/minder is excellent. John was here at the start of the genocide in 1994. He, his wife and children were hidden in the parliament buildings for 7 days before being smuggled out in the middle of the night to Uganda. He lost everyone else in his extended family. We travelled along the route he followed to escape Rwanda for part of our way. he said the road was covered with bodies when they fled. He trained as a veterinarian in Uganda before coming to Rwanda – now he is working in the tourism industry. It has been interesting hearing how the country is developing and changing. Houses are being built steadily, infrastructure is improving. Every square foot of usable land is cultivated. The main crops are beans, maize, potatoes, sorghum and sugar cane. Tilapia is grown in ponds, every house seems to have a goat and chickens, people are in large family groups – lots of smiles everywhere. We were greeted at the lodge with a traditional Rwanda welcome dance – in which we tried to participate :-))). Got the hang of it after a while. As a result both Carol and I will probably need hip replacement surgery when we get back home:-) After our aerobic workout we sat down to an excellent meal, tilapia and vegetables done to perfection. The lodge is awesome – off the grid, individual cabins heated by a fireplace. Tomorrow we leave at 6:30 am to find the Mountain Gorillas.

image image image image image image  image image





It is now 26 hours without sleep. The flight over has been christened as the flight of the screaming babies…. Enough said. Exchanged some cash at the airport and caught the shuttle to the hotel where Carol had already checked in. had a short rest and then we caught the train into Amsterdam where we had dinner with Carol’s family. There wasn’t a lot of time to take photos but got a few. Hope to get more of the canals etc on our way back through. Lovely city, still cleaning up from the New Year’s Eve party of the night before.

I had forgotten how many people still smoke here – cigarettes and pot. 100’s of bicycles on the roads. The train system was an interesting experience which was resolved after getting ticket machines to work and figuring out we were on the wrong platform. Another story for another time 🙂

We head to the airport tomorrow morning for our 10 am flight to Kigali.

image image image image image