After farewelling Chris and Tom, my first task was to scout out hotels in Kigali across different price ranges. This task was hindered a bit due to the conflict in Goma which had resulted in both Congolese and foreigners fleeing into Rwanda and filling all the hotel rooms.
The next day I headed to Gahini, about 80km east of Kigali. My uncle had recommended I visit as he had been there in 2007 working with the church on a water project. Set on Lake Muhazi, Gahini is a small community with a couple of lovely accommodations overlooking the water. I had one entire guesthouse to myself and spent a peaceful day alone catching up on emails. I met the Bishop, who does various projects in the area and on my second night a group of young people from Gippsland (regional Victoria) arrived for their “Schoolie’s Week” experience. It seems a much better idea than getting drunk on the Gold Coast, to come to Rwanda and volunteer for two weeks.
From Gahini I crossed the border to Tanzania. I was joined by Nadia and Eric who I had met in Kigali. When we got to Mwanza, there was another accommodation crisis. This time because graduates were celebrating by coming to Tanzania’s second largest city – another Schoolie’s Week celebration!
Mwanza is set on Lake Victoria and is not too bad for an African city (visit Africa for the nature, not the cities!). We found a decent pizza restaurant and a flash hotel with a pool to lounge by after wandering the streets under the hot sun.
From Mwanza, it only took a few hours to reach the western entrance to the Serengeti, where I wanted to check out some accommodation options. And that’s where my problems began.
I headed down a dirt track to check a recommended place. Just as I was thinking that I ought to turn around because it really was too muddy, my rear tyre fell in the ditch and I was stuck. Some boys from the village came to assist me and succeeded, only to push me into another hole! They disappeared, somewhat dejected. I had called the accommodation I was destined for, and after two hours finally someone arrived…. on a motorbike. I had assumed he would arrive with a vehicle to tow me out, but we never assume anything in Africa! Shortly after he started working on getting out of the hole, the rain started to bucket down. Digging a tyre out of a ditch in the rain is one of life’s more futile exercises, but bless him he continued work. After a couple more hours I asked someone who had offered to call a tractor if the tractor was coming. For some mysterious reason he had not yet called the tractor, perhaps thinking that digging in the rain was going to produce results. At last the tractor came. And then I learnt a key lesson: supervise everything! One man attached the tow chain to the bulbar rather than the tow loop and as the tractor jerked the van (successfully) out of the mud, the bull bar became detached, smashing a headlight and ripping the steel on the front panel. Then the tractor stopped. It would not start again. Not enough fuel was the explanation. TIA – This is Africa!
The next morning they returned with fuel and I managed to get to the tar road. I got to Musoma where I managed to get the bull bar re-welded. From Musoma it was a long drive to Nairobi, which ended with a peak hour arrival in the city. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether I love or hate this city – I was so happy to be home after the ordeal in Tanzania, but are these traffic jams really necessary??