Sunday, 27 July 2008

Nyungwe forest by bus

July 24th

At ten o’clock, just as we go to bed, it starts raining. It rains continuously all through the night. I wake up thinking “blast, I’m only wearing sandals” and “we’re going to have to walk back up to Kamembe and even with a small umbrella we’re going to get soaked”. Then I think “ah, maybe the rain has cleared the air and I can take good pictures across the lake”. Alas, the visibility is murkier than ever. It’s worse than yesterday, and licks of cloud are obscuring the Congolese heights on the far side.

We’ve arranged a late breakfast (Tu Chi isn’t a mornings person!), and afterwards we sit and read while we wait for the rain to stop. Which it does, right on cue, about half an hour before we need to leave.

In all the traumas of this trip, the one really positive thing has been the Peace Guesthouse. Friendly service after the initial screw-up about bookings, and good food at very reasonable prices.

There’s a minor scuffle in our bus; we get there in good time so we can sit together and with Tu Chi on the left hand (scenic) side. Then the driver decides that since all our tickets are numbered, as are the bus seats, we must sit in our appropriate seat. Not next to each other, and on the wrong side. We grumble and make a fuss (we’re getting good at it!) and eventually he gives in and makes some unflattering comment about bloody muzungus. In seven months it’s the first time anybody has tried to impose a seating plan on a Rwandan bus.

Well, we bump and chug our way back home. No breakdowns this time, but the journey still feels as if it’s lasting forever. There are lots of monkeys by the roadside, and Tu Chi gets her money’s worth of greenery! At Nyanza we have one of those stops where everybody rushes out of the bus to buy food (read my blog for July 5th for more explanation), but since we’ll be home in Gitarama in half an hour we don’t bother. We just much our way through (even more) bananas.

Back in Gitarama we dine on brochettes and ibirayi at the “Petit Jardin”, then go our separate ways. We’re going to do the market together on Saturday, and Tu Chi is going to copy my photos (her camera is playing up). I need to show my face at work on Friday.

In the evening I just want to do something fairly mindless so I watch a DVD of “Brief Encounter”.

What’s been good about today? – everything! Once again, today just sums up the life I’m leading out here – languid breakfast on a terrace overlooking an exquisite equatorial lake. Lunchtime seems me in mountain jungle gawping at monkeys through a bus window. Teatime sees me doing urgent food shopping round our local part of Gitarama and haggling with the market women. And in the evening I’m listening to Noel Coward’s clipped, precise dialogue on my computer.

Bring it on, folks! VSO life is cool!

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