Monday, May 23, 2011

Discovering Central East Africa (Volume 3, Rwanda)




The country with a thousand hills and million smiles...

Not in vain have they called this country that way. Rwanda is a tiny piece of Africa, it is a place rich in nature, history and people with incredible needs.

Intense questioning at the airport's migration area began my discovery of this (contradictorily) green but arid city (Kigali). Different than in many European or American countries, in theory developed places and (some) engaged with the "Save the Planet" slogans, Rwanda is a country with a very important recycling commitment (No plastic bags are allowed through the airport).

A city tour that lasted less than 10 minutes, but that showed the safety of the American Embassy, the location of the humble UNICEF office (where my brother used to work), and important monument where - according to my brother - brides and grooms go to take wedding pictures at.

My brother's place...

In order to access the house there was a non asphalted road1, decorated with very few electric lighting. A cozy attic welcomed the first one of the family to visit T.M. in Africa. Some family pictures and african paintings were hanging in the wall. The attic had a balcony that provided a view to an artificial lake. From there, an interesting panoramic of what was about to come from my Rwandan trip.





UNICEF

A coffee, a shower and we were out.









Rwanda's weather is very similar to then one in DR. But when you have been living in a place with 4 seasons, you lose fit. Exposing myself to the incredible sun rays, the sweating like an animal sensation and the incredible fight with my brother (that included crying and yelling because he didn't call a taxi) was the entertainment for the 10 minute walk to the office (the truth: 30 minute walk, my rythm). People here were very friendly, they asked me about the places I have already been at and about the upcoming destinations. As per all the comments received, it seems that my brother had been doing a great job and gave the office his dominican flavor.







Food












Shokola, a chic restaurant in East Africa - probably one of the bests in Kigali - with a menu mainly focused on indian food. Good taste, decent service. I even asked the waitress to let me take her a picture and as a way to thank she came with a huge desert that neither my brother nor I could finish.










Next stop: renting a car... (To be continued in Volume 4)





Notes:







1 Non asphalted road: Most of the areas that are actually asphalted are mainly the ones located nearby/in rich neighborhoods. Nevertheless this doesn't mean that the roads aren't even more clean than in many european cities.







Additional Notes:




  • Food service: In Africa, food service requires of at least 30 minutes of waiting.


  • People in Rwanda do not have a sense of space respect. In many cases I was standing watching a video in a museum and someone would go before me and would not let me continue my watching. They do not mean it in a rude way, but it seems to me that they were just not educated to give people some space and respect each ones area.


  • Kinyarwanda is the main dialect in Rwanda. They also speak - not everybody and not necessarly both of them (this depends on the place and period of time they were raised - english and french.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Discovering Central East Africa (Volume 2)





Africa is not all about empty lands, poor people, deserts, black kids going around asking for money, camels, elephants, or whatever those things you are thinking. But yes, you see many of those.

In the past, present and posts to come I just wish to share my perspective on this trip and by no means meant to dispise the work/life of people/organization/city here mentioned.






The reason to chose Kenya was because my brother had some friends living there. They work at United Nations, which happens to be the HQ for Africa. It made a huge impression on me the office they have there, it looked like a College Campus. Makes me wonder that if they claim to be a NGO, shouldnt they be using their funds for the causes they are working for? (UN stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace)


I mean it is ok to have comfortable offices, a comfotable restaurant, but what is the need for a club that includes a pool, a gym, 2 tennis courts, a park, a ping pong table, and many many other things that you may see in the picture below.



The truth is that all the transfered employees must be really satisfied with this company's benefits. And that you can tell, because when you ask people for all of these commodities, at least my brother's friends, they tend to be very protective of the UN.



Nairobi in Kenya is a city of parties where you don't dance, safaris with all sorts of animals that you can think of, the most amazing hand-stone made jewlery I have seen and bought, unexpected good food, fancy malls, british driving, 4x4 old but useful cars, incredible mountains, campings...





Upcoming Rwanda...