“Mr. Coffee… But He’s a Potato?”

By Siena and LD

Bonjour and hello!

When we stepped off the plane in Kigali, we quickly learned that in addition to Kenrwandan, two of the other national languages in Rwanda are English and French! We noticed many other differences between Tanzania and Rwanda on our drive from the airport to the Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel which we would be staying in for the next four nights. We were impressed with how clean the streets were, void of hardly any plastic or garbage, and we were mesmerized with just how big and pretty the city is, especially when it was all lit up at night.

When our laundry took days to dry, we learned the hard way that it was no longer the dry season. The rainy season, which starts a couple of months earlier in Rwanda than Tanzania, made for a lush, green environment and a humid climate, something we were not used to having just spent an hour in the Tanzanian bush.

On our first night in Kigali, we met with a young man named Barak, who gave us an introduction to the history and progress of Rwanda. We learned that in 2003, the government banned plastic bags, which explained why the city streets were so clean. We also learned that they have a National Community Service Day at the end of every month where all Rwandans spend three hours planting trees, cleaning neighborhoods, and so on.

Later that day, we visited Kepler University in downtown to tour the campus and have lunch with some students. We found we had a lot in common with the students our age, but also a lot of questions for one another. We answered these questions over pizza and exchanged emails with the hope of keeping in touch. The next day we enjoyed a breakfast buffet at our hostel and took the morning to relax and journal.

In the afternoon, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum and went to one of the churches where the Genocide had taken place back in April 15th, 1994. It was an intense experience full of emotion and sorrow, but nevertheless very educational and important to learn about.

On our last day in Kigali, we went to the national sports stadium to enjoy a football (soccer) game. Kigali won 4 to nil. We celebrated with some hardcore Kigali fans and made our live Rwandan television debut when the cameras came by.

Our next two days were spent in a mountain town called Huye, about three hours south of Kigali. It was here where I met Aloyce, also known as Mr. Coffee, the happiest man in the world. He worked for a coffee company and gave us a tour of the coffee farm. We ate, crushed, roasted, and spilled coffee beans galore, and Mr. Coffee kept us laughing the entire time.

On Halloween, we celebrated with a group dinner, some candy, and sparkling cider. We raised our glasses and cheered and clinked the night away. We ended Halloween watching Life of Pi together. It wasn’t the most traditional Halloween celebration, but it was Halloween nevertheless.

On the 1st of November, we said goodbye to Rwanda and set off to Uganda!