Africa Plus travel blog

Day Before...Signs of Where We Are? or Going?

Major Rain #2171









Group Shot on Beach #2185

We had not arranged for taxi the nite before so I went down to the street in the dark to flag something down...very quiet until finally a botabota(motorcycle taxi) came by. By the time Mari got down we had 3 waiting, this is the first time on our journey using botabota that they had helmets for each of us and required us to wear our backpacks on our backs! In the past the driver held the pack between his legs in front of him which naturally restricts driving, turning! I think the laws here reflect a much greater awareness of safety issues than anywhere we've been. They even stopped and waited at every stoplite even this early in the am and no traffic! Gave Mari who hates riding these much more confidence, a good thing since the bus station is at the bottom of a very long, steep hill, ha!

This town was also one of the cleanest, most orderly we have encountered. Rwanda is also the first country to inspect our/all baggage for plastic bags and confiscate them in customs at the border! Roadways have virtually no litter. Since leaving Kenya we see mostly brick built houses that are often stuccoed over and lots of tile roofs...the brick making is everywhere we go it seems.

Travel in the country people are walking along the roads everywhere and there are many more bicycles, bicycles which carry other people as well as huge loads, many times we've seen guys pushing bikes up the mountain roads loaded down with 2 or 3 huge dangling bunches of bananas...I have never seen one going downhill tho, hmmm. I have seen several cyclists going down these mountain roads lickity split and wonder about braking and turning, they often to me look somewhat wonder if you'd see some of these grades!

Up in the mountains grow eucalyptus, pine, upright juniper, cedar, and many other types of tree I don't recognize, most of them planted in groves apparently reforestation. It is strange being on the equator and still very cool with this type of tree growth. People seem to be working everywhere, tilling, cutting brush/grass, planting...countryside shows why this is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, 29 million, they must work all the land, there are no wild areas/critters even birds are scarce.

Now travelling to border on nice bus and over smooth roads, we reach it by 10 am, get a 3 day transit visa no problem just $20 US(they don't accept anything else), 30 minutes and we're in. Lots of beggars here. Going down the other side of mountain we just climbed into Burundi the brickworks increase 100 fold, all along the way red bricks from the red red clay. The people even appear poorer in general altho the women are usually wearing much brighter colored clothing, reds, ogange, yellow, brilliant green.

The road continues excellent all the way, but the driver makes up time downhill so very little slowing down on the many turns, consequently at least 4 of our 24 passengers were sick out the windows at various times. Hillsides in Burundi are much steeper and seem to me to be more bereft of trees, we even see several clearcutting of the eucalyptus stands. I'd guess 80 to 90% of the wood goes to charcoal production not for construction purposes. We stopped and bought bananas, great deal, huge bunch for a buck. The mountains end abruptly as we head downhill towards Bujumbura on Lake Tanganyika, the longest lake in the world and the second deepest! On the way down the mountain I saw as many as 4 cyclists hitching a ride on the back of trucks going up, I mean holding on BEHIND not with their bikes IN the truck!

After checking into( )right by the bus stop(the folks were again very nice, helpful...we paid in US $$), we headed out by taxi to the beach, Sego the nearest. This being Easter Sunday we wanted to see the sights before dark. Unfortunately, it was overcast and threatening rain so not many folks were out and about...the young kids with sombrero type hats piled on their heads looked particularly disappointed! Walking up the beach which was a strange experience in itself because up until now the only beaches we've experienced had tides, there was very little flotsom but of course this was a resort area so I expect they keep it clean. At a resort just down the beach we watched some Anglos playing beach volleyball but at the two story bar where we had come there weren't more than 20 folks and this included kids. The lake must have risen some since 2 or 3 umbrellas stood in the water in front of the place, the waves actually flowed into the tabled area where we moved from on top when it started licking rain.

Back at the resort off the beach proper, Mari had her opportunity to pet a caged baboon which surprised her. The Belgian owner seemed genuinely interested in the critter's welfare, but failing in the language Mari couldn't raise her concerns about the baboon's lonely state! She was most pleased to be able to give the female baboon a massage which was reciprocated by some 'grooming' of Mari's forarm.

Back in town our walk around was brief looking for a restaurant, even the hype in the LP did not ring true telling about nite life in this town. But then we neglected to factor in Sunday and Easter!!

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