Our “first” weekend in Rwanda!! *we technically were here last weekend*

Friday night:
We spent our first Friday night doing as colleagues do…going to Happy Hour at the local bar called Podium. GHI is big on fostering friendships between staff with events like sports fridays, happy hour, and inclusion of one another in weekend trips or events. Most of the staff walked down from the GHI office to a bar called Podium, and by bar I mean place with cold beer and some chairs. Ryan and I were able to hear about ‘the fun part of the job,’ sorts of stories…crazy things that happened that nobody would believe if they didn’t experience something remotely similar too. Laughing, talking, enjoying everyone in such a relaxed environment was wonderful…and was that tone that set our whole weekend. After leaving Podium, we caught a ride into Kigali with the staff truck all the way back to our friend Eric’s house, where we stayed for the weekend. We proceeded to go out for Thai food with him, grab some groceries for breakfast, and just relax in the house after a long week. Going to bed early was a good call considering how busy our Saturday was.

We both started Saturday off with what honestly was probably one of the best showers of my life…minor detail, but seriously was awesome. We then walked up the street to RDB (Rwanda Development Board) where one of us obtained our gorilla trekking permit for next Sunday quickly as the other had a bit more of a hard time…we won’t go into detail, but it was quite a process.

Wall of Names at Kigali Genocide Memorial

We then made our way on moto to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which was definitely not what we expected. There as a big event happening there, and it was pretty crowded. We persevered though, and were able to explore the memorial and museum. It is pretty astounding being in the country yet being reminded that just 22 years ago such an atrocity occurred on the same streets you can walk on at any hour of the night now. We ate at the museum cafe, as we were in a bit of a hurry, but were introduced to Rwandan salad, which basically is a better version of American cole slaw.

Before Rwanda lost and fans threw trash at their own team…

After the memorial, we returned to Remera for the Rwanda vs. Mozambique soccer game. We began by meeting friends from work at a bar across the street from the stadium, where we encountered quite a variety of people…from men in pressed Armani suites to people painted blue with polka dots all over them…in the same half mile radius. As we all began to approach the stadium, we were greeted by uniformed men telling us that we had to separate between men and women because we had to be patted down to get into the game. This situation was quite honestly one of the only times I was glad to be a woman at a sporting event, because there was quite literally no one in the line for women (a first for anyone who has waited in line at the women’s bathroom at a stadium). The stadium is separated into shaded section and a non-shaded section; tickets in the shaded section cost 1000rwf (roughly $1.25USD) and tickets in the sunny section cost 500rwf (roughly $0.60USD)…we were in the sunny section because we are all broke people working for a non-profit. To be honest, watching the Rwandan team play soccer was like watching high school soccer, but all in all a really fun time.

BUT WAIT, Saturday isn’t over yet, because it’s only 5:30pm. We then return to a different bar where they played many ‘throwbacks’ like Destiny’s Child, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, and Afrojack…We also had snacks there, brochette and chips (goat kabob with french fries). We eventually left our post there and went to another bar where they were playing MTV music videos from the 1990s, an experience to say the least…but it got cold there, so naturally we had to go to the 514 (Montreal area code). 514 is a Canadian club with a patio with live music, and a downstairs club with a DJ. We stayed on the patio but it was lively enough…eventually it hit midnight, and we had to get snacks there, cheese pizza and an omlette, which everyone enjoyed. We began our short trek back to Eric’s house, following Eric and his friend Katie. Thank goodness they were there, because a very tall Ugandan man decided him and Ryan were going to get married. This man, who is unnamed because we genuinely don’t know his name, literally would not leave. Eventually Eric and Katie resorted to shouting at him in a mixture of Kinyarwanda and English until he finally left. The things people do for love ya know…

Before the bad milk hit at Sole Luna 🙂

We get a bit of a late start, which is good because nothing is open yet HA. Good thing we didn’t get food for breakfast for two days. We chilled at Eric’s with the dog that lives there (Max) until returning to RDB (because one of us still didn’t have a permit). Then we made our way to Bourbon (don’t worry, not another bar), a chain coffee shop that sources their coffee from Rwanda. We’d been to one before, knew they were good, had wifi, the works. We hung out there until the Italian restaurant we wanted to go to opened. Unfortunately, Ryan got pretty sick from all of the cream in her coffee there and was unable to enjoy the delicious pizza at Sole Luna (10/10 would recommend). We got a ride back to Ndera on the staff truck, hung out at the farm for a while, and then returned to our homestay.

We’re in the office today, but we’re headed out really early tomorrow to finish our week out in Musanze!

*side note, Ryan is doing much better now*

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