Sunday, 4 March 2007

Buffoonery in Burundi

MK: Melanie and Lindsey - 2 of Rwanda’s 3 Angels - felt that being chased by a girl with a machete and catching their “night guard” smoking drugs while on duty was not enough excitement in their lives. So, they decided to get on a crowded minibus at 7am destined for Bujumbura, the capital of neighbouring Burundi. They were not far out of Kigali when Melanie had to ask the male (dare not say, “man”) squished up against her to stop picking his nose. This resulted in teasing in Kinya-rwanda and laughter from all other passengers on board (about 25 or 30).

The journey involved several stops along the way, not to pick up additional passengers (because we were already over capacity) but to purchase much-sought after food items: brochettes, cartons of buttermilk, grilled corn on the cob, donuts, etc. One female passenger was either starving and had not eaten for months or bored, because she atecontinuously (devouring six brochettes, two cobs of corn, and a donut or two) during the entire nine hour journey (yes 9, you read correctly).

The fiasco at the border (there is definitely a difference between “law-abiding Rwanda” with the “anything goes – with a price – Burundi”) entailed the same famished female going straight from the last person in line to the first person being attended to at passport control. The line-up for immigration never moved because females like her decided they were of noble blood and didn’t have to wait in line for even one second. They pushed their way to the very front without hesitation or concern. Melanie and Lindsey also witnessed a few notes being passed under the table for unwitting quick and easy service.

Just when Lindsey and Melanie thought they were nearing the finishing line and could see Bujumbura on the horizon, Burundian customs decided to stop the bus and search through all the packages and bags on board. Much to Melanie and Lindsey’s surprise, they started taking articles off the bus. Two of Rwanda’s three Angels wondered what kind of illegal substances these passengers had subjected them to. (It is also important to note here that Melanie was actually unauthorised to travel to Burundi in a public vehicle and because there is evidence of rebel activity in the area). They didn’t have to wait long to discover these criminals were smuggling Rwandan cheese into Burundi. How horrific!

With fewer load in tow, Melanie and Lindsey finally arrived in Buju. They quickly found a quaint quest house and proceeded on a walking tour with a guide from the Saga Guest House offering his services free of charge (believable?). He was quite knowledgeable about all the important landmarks: he pointed out the banks (it was Saturday and they were closed), the Kenya Airways office, some nice hotels (although we were already staying at the Guest House he worked at), the RwandAir office, etc. All useful information the next time we want to: fly out of Buju, exchange money in Buju, or stay in Buju. Melanie and Lindsey were then taken to the beach of Lake Tanganyika. This area had a nice (and cheap Hotel Saga Beach), nightclub, cultural centre/theatre, and a few different styles (and prices) of restaurants. Melanie and Lindsey – the celebrities that they are – met the owner of the expansive bar/resto/club/theatre complex) who gave them a tour followed by delicious mojitos. The two Angels were ancy to return to town, so declined the owner’s advances and departed for the Guest House. The escapade was short-lived and Melanie and Lindsey boarded the same overcrowded bus the following morning at 8am.

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