Burundi

We have arrived after a little later start than planned this morning (due to the fact that I was just too tired to get up). Rob and I headed off to Burundi. We were feeling a little apprehensive after the guide book and Internet warnings about the dangers in Burundi. No problems at Kabanga (Tz border side), the immigration officers there assured us Burundi was safe and enjoy our stay.

Once travelling through no mans land for a few km’s we arrived at the Burundi border. Things on this side not quite used to the wazungu tourists and kept trying to speak to us in French!!! I tried my best Swahili and told them my only French was cafe, croissant and baguette – that’s it!! So once we had our visa’s from the customs office we went back to immigration for our stamps (again more French!!) then back to customs to get permission to take our car into Burundi then down to find some car insurance. Thankfully there was a guy in the insurance office who had a little English and spoke Kiswahili so between me and him we managed to arrange the car insurance. Nobody could tell us if we actually needed insurance but for US$37 we decided we may as well. Lucky we did as it was checked at the border then again at a police stop on our way.

So finally with all papers in check we headed into Burundi proper – on the right(as in not left) hand side of the road again. So far not very different to Tanzania; the only thing we noticed was that the rooves were more tile then tin. Also there were many many bricks on the side of the road – obviously for sale. We were just chatting yesterday with Nigel and he was telling us bricks are very hard to come by in Ngara at the moment. Maybe we should bring some back with us!!

The road twisted and turned and went up and down over hills and dales. There were the usual thousands of people walking with all sorts of things on their heads and the many bicycles loaded up with water, flour, bananas and even bricks. As we began the big descent into Bujumbura we did see many bicycles that were cleverly catching a lift up the hill by hanging on to the backs of trucks. I have seen this before in Ngara with maybe one bike but here there were often 5 ofr 6 hanging onto the truck and then one or two more hanging onto them. Someone should suggest this technique to the ‘Tour’ guys however I think they probably cycle uphill faster than these trucks!!!

On arrival in Bujumbura, a massive city (well compared to Ngara), we had no idea where we were going to find the hotel so just headed for the lake. Thankfully we spotted a big sign and rumbled down a dirt road and found the hotel. Bujumbura so far was reminding us of Dar es Salaam – lots of traffic, lots of people and lots of rubbish. BUT once inside the gates of our hotel it was like stepping into an Oasis. So now we are fed and watered and feeling a little more human, we have emailed mum back in Murgwanza to let her know we are safe and sound. Mum did request that we leave the boys passports and return plane tickets with her – just in case anything happened to us!!

So after a fantastic cup of coffee I am now going to have a swim – something I haven’t done for 6 months and later maybe another coffee. I must also brush up on my non-existent French – we are in Africa for goodness sake, I feel like I am just getting some Swahili and everyone wants to speak French to me. When we suggested we speak English it was a big shock to the waiter – but then so was the fact that we were from Australia – very very far away!!

 

 

Time Difference

Children have never been very good at listening to elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.~

James Baldwin
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