Gap Year: Rwanda! (Days 63 – 73)

Friday 12th March – Day 63


It’s an 11hr bus ride to Kigali, Rwanda, broken up by the occasional toilet stop.

The music and films were a little iffy to be honest and I mostly sat talking or listening to my Ipod.

I managed to scam the dodgy money traders on the border though. The exchange is about 1000USh to 270FRw. Emma got 27 000FRw for 120 000USh.

I wanted to change 100 000 USh, and proceeded to, but then some man came up and argued that the amout I was being given was wrong and that 120 000USh was 27 000FRw.

I gave 100 000USh and got 27 000FRw, I beat the system!

When we arrived it was 6.30 Rwandan time, and so we got Bodas straight to Nakumatt (a French Supermarket, there’s one at Oasis Mall in Kampala) bought bread cheese and pickle and made sandwiches once we arrived at the hotel.

From the off I had to speak French, I was the only one in the group – it wass all good fun!

Because it was a chuchy hotel, instead of the one twin room Heather and I went to get, they gave us 2 twin rooms for the same price, so we were able to sneak the boys and Emma in very comfortably!

Saturday 13th March – Day 65

The Rwandan Genocide.

We started the day early, going to get a delicious coffee.

After a quick bit of journal updating, we split up, Emma going to a memorial outside of the city, Heatyer going back to the hotel room, and us 3 lads getting motos (bodas) to the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

It was harrowing reading about events that happened in my life time, in the same place it all happened.

There was an eeiry silence only broken by the videos of survivors speaking about their experiences.

The differing attitudes to forgiveness were interesting, with one man saying if someone confessed to killing his wife and kids, he’d forgive them, whilst another woman said she could never forgive those who’s taken part in the killings.

On the first floor there was an exhibition on many other geneocides from the last 150 years.

After Ben and I got motos to the post office, only to find it shut, and nobody we’d asked about it had told us it would be shut on a Saturday!

When we got back to the hotel we met up with Heather and she took us around a little local craft market – it was very big or indeed good. However we did go past a shop where I was able to pick up a new journal at a fair price.

Then we had another coffee.

Emma returned from her trip around 6pm, feeling pretty drained, but we tarted ourselves up (hot showers!) and went out for dinner. It was one of the best spaghetti bolognaise I’ve ever had! And was only about 10 000/- a good price for a meat dish!

Returning to the hotel we discussed our night plans. Boz decided to sleep at the hotel, whilst us for went in search for a club that the guide book showed was just down the road; it wasn’t.

We never did find it, but bumbed into our Canadian broadcaster friend from Backerpackers Kampala – uncanny huh?

The roundabout near the hotel and Nakumatt had this giant water fountain on it, and seeing as it was quiet (I think Kigali has the quietest town centre on a Saturday night in the world) we’d pop across and have a look.

What a massive drain hole I though to my self as I walked past it. Turning round to comment on it to the group, I see Ben looking at the fountain as his foot steps into the black nothingness, Emma reach out and grab him, fail to hold him and he falls face first, bashing his head on the man hole cover and disappearing into what turned out to be about a 5 ½ foot drop.

He was fine though, and we continued our journey to Nakumatt for a rave.

In the end we settled for returning to the same restaurant as earlier, which had been playing decent music and sat down for drinks.

After 10 minutes I couldn’t take it any more and we had to get up and dance on the cleared floor space.

Withinseconds the whole restaurant was on the dance floor with us – we made loads of friends.

One gentleman claimed to be Africa’s second fastest 1500m runner and bought us all sodas.

I enjoyed myself, having conversations in French to our new friends much to the bewilderment of Ben, Emma and Heather.

Finally it was 2.30am and we knew we should get moving.

We went across the street to our favourite coffee shop and ordered some drinks.

By 3.30am we had gotten back to the hotel, 30 minutes before the gate keeper went to bed.

Sunday 14th March – Day 66

“I wanna share with Malkie” – Vic Metcalf

The 7am start was tricky, but we managed it, fitting in another coffee and small pastry breakfast before getting motos to the taxi park for our bus journey home.

We were running late as it was, it was 8.30 when we left the coffee shop, it would leave at 9am, and Ben had just discovered he’d left his wash bag in the room.

Like good soldiers, we went on without him, but he made it to the coach on time.

The return journey was long and unremarkable.

Getting Visas back into the country was a little worrying.

Annoying the girls, their third or forth times getting Visas into Uganda had no problems and where asked no questions.

I get to the counter and have why are you going back to Uganda, and how long for etc! Thankfully, the cool and calculated liar that I am came through and Ben and I got through no bother.

When asked “where are you going?” Boz shouted Uganda at the poor immigration lady a few times until Ben helpfully said “Kampala mate, we’re going to Kampala”

Around 8pm we arrived in Kampala and made our way to the taxi park, past club Eastenders, to get a taxi to Vic and Emma’s for the night; on the way picking up rolex and chips – yum!

When it came to bed time, rather reluctantly Vic had to share a bed with Boz, despite numerous crys of “I wanna share with Malkie!”

The floor wasn’t nice to sleep on…

Monday 15th March – Day 67

“We must stop eating out”

A quick rise and shine and Vic and us lads caught bodas into Kampala – Vic was preparing for her Uni interview.

After an hour we headed to Ranchers for lunch, with Ben and I sharing a beef burrito. It was different, certainly not the worst thing I’ve had out here, but I wouldn’t do it again.

There were sound of music rehearsals in the evening, so Ben and I satyed in Kampala whilst Boz went home.

We killed time by chilling in Nakumatt and drinking sweet lassi – a new discovery for me, but one I can’t wait to try again back home, I’m fast becoming a fan of Indian food, it’s the tastiest food I’ve found out here, perhaps because I have no preconceptions of it from home?

Then Sophie travelled in and met up with us.

We got to rehearsals and as ever, it was pretty uneventful.

After, the 4 of us went to CafeJava for dinner – we gave up on hour sandwhich idea when after 15 minutes we hadn’t got anywhere. Plus shared meals (Sophie and I split a double BBQ beef burger) are almost as cheap.

“We must stop eating out after rehearsals”

They say that every week, I no longer believe Vic or Ben.

When we split up, Ben and I managed to catch a bus all the way back to Kitega for 2500/-. At one point it was carrying 40 people!

Eleven o’clock we got to bed.

Tuesday 16th March – Day 68

“Where’s Shades of Sin?”

Finally I’m getting somewhere with my p4 science class. Three of them passed their spelling test, one with full marks! Let’s not discuss the others.

By break I’d taught my lessons, had my porridge and went home.

Late afternoon Ben and I popped to Kitega for stuff for dinner and then proceeded to rustle it up, even adding a cheeky bit of guacamole!

By 7.15pm we had eaten and washed up and went to visit Paul to charge our bits and pieces.

We didn’t leave until 9pm.

As soon as we had arrived, he’d started to make tea for us. This means yo are trapped until it is ready. This can take over an hour, although it’s only boiling water.

Much to our disappointment, it got to 8pm, UBC was on, and then a wildlife documentary came on.

Boz expressed his disappointment, “Where’s Shades of Sin?” – Our favorite tacky South American soap.

I now also feel I can say that UBC (Uganda Broadcating Corporation for thouse who hadn’t get guessed, has NOTHING on the BBC)

Wednesday 17th March – Day 69

Bennedikt – Our German Saviour

I discovered one of my P6 Maths students, Shafik, can’t adding, coming to the conclusion that –

290 + 20 = 2110.

This was further confirmed by the addition excersises I later set them in class, with the other 4 memebers getting most correct – I don’t know what to do!

After break I managed to finish the book, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. I’m getting dad to bring out the other 2 books.

With rehearsals in the evening, Ben and I decided to spend the afternoon in Kampala. After a hellish hitching journey, we still ended up getting a taxi to Kampala!

We went to the post office where I managed to post the letter I’d failed to post in Rwanda, then to WebCity Café where we bumped into Vic still preparing for her interview!

By now it was getting late, so we walked to and rushed a dinner and Garden City, then got a taxi, followed by a boda to somewhere near the school where to rehearsal was to take place.

By this time we were late, lost and losing the will to live.

Thankfully our savior came in the form of Bennedikt, a fellow thespian playing a Nazi in the Sound of Music, who pulled up his car and drove us there.

Lucky for us the school had just put on its own play, and now had a free biscuit, cake and tea stall. Some things are meant to be!

Whilst Ben rehearsed, I made friends with the school kids on the basketball court.

Finally, 40 minutes late, the rehearsal finished, and Bennediktoffered to take us back down to the main road so we could pick up a taxi.

Boy was that tricky!

We ended up walking about ½ mile, being told there were no more taxi to Lugazi, and we should get one to Mukono.

We did, and thankfully for us, we found a man who also needed to go to Lugazi, and who was able to track down a people carrier that would take us there for 1000/-.

During transit, we got a phone call from an upset Emily, informing us she was leaving for home.

We got home a little late, but before Boz who’d had dinner at Paul’s.

Thursday 17th March – Day 70

After double Science, double maths, we caught bodas to Paul’s school, where he’s headmaster.

He bought us boiled eggs and soda and took us on a guided tour (it didn’t take long!)

We got back and were chilling when Ben got a phone call from Sophie, who asked for me, and offered me more work in the Surgery on Friday. I said yes, though it did mean I had to get out of school on Friday morning.

For dinner we went and got our rolexes.

Unfortunately we discovered the ants had got to the Heinz ketchup and we had to throw it away – a dark day for everybody.

Finally I got an early night!

Friday 19th March – Day 71

Hold on to your Wallets Boys

We got up, I washed, ate and did the washing up with Ben before heading down to the main road.

Judging by how few private cars there were, I made the executive decision to get a taxi to Kampala, and then sat listening to my ipod.

I made it to the Surgery around 10am and was told that we were doing the same work as before, as they had managed to delete the data off the system, plus this time, they wanted each product grouped according to its batch number and expiry date. On top of this, there was now 51 pages instead of 42.

Sophie was ill and so had to keep speaking to Dr Stockly, leaving me to do all the leg work whilst she sat and typed it up on the computer!

By 5pm we called it a day, book a family room at the Annex (I had to stump up the 50 000/-!) and chilled to Panic! At the disco waiting for Ben, then Vic and Emma, Heather, Shaun and Oscar to show.

By now it was getting on, we’d got ready and showered and went down for a Ranchers meal.

When we’d finished this, we tried going to Alligator for karaoke, but it was closing!

After much indecision, we caught a private to Iguana.

Within the first hour, Ben had had his wallet stolen, losing 70 000/- of his money, 30 000/- of Vic’s and a little of Sophie’s.

He was a little shaken, but we managed to make a night of it still, getting back to the room about 3.30am

Saturday 20th March – Day 72

Four way Dancing

I was awake at 8am, to allow time to get ready for work.

I showered and then Shaun and I went to the surgery.

It was long, slow, dull work when you’re tired.

Eventually lunch came and we shared a chicken tikka masala.

It was nice to spend time getting to know Shaun, especially as we almost spent 11 months living together in Mauritania.

Finally 5pm came, and we joined everybody at Backerpackers.

Nearly everyone was there, bar Caitlin who was with her mother, and Dan and Rob.

We sat around chatting at the tables outside the lounge, with Emily taking her last few snapshots of us before she flew home the next day.

Then came the time for her to say goodbye, which put everybody in a weird mood as she disappeared off to the road.

Time passed, and we got over our grief when Emma, Shaun and Boz came back with food. The rolex was alright, but my chips had been smothered with funny tomato sauce.

It being Ireland vs Scotland that night we made our way to Bubbles O’learys to watch it. Amazingly Scotland won, and that put Sophie in a bad mood!

The England vs France game was showing later, and this caused divisions in the group, with half wanting to stay, and Vic, Emma, Heather and I wanting to dance; so we went to Bubbles.

On the way Emma managed to break her flip flops, and when we got to a café for food, she repaired it with tooth picks- the repairs didn’t last long.

When we got to Bubbles, it was just the 4 of us on the dance floor – but we didn’t care! Over the next few hours the dnace floored packed out.

About 2am the music was rubbish and so we caught bodas back to Backerpackers and went to bed.

Sunday 21st March – Day 73

One Third of the Way Through

I missed me 8am alarm, but thankfully woke at 8.55, picked up my bag and went to the surgery with Heather.

We only had 3 pages of stock to check on the shelves, but pages of data to input on the computer. Heather spent the next 3 hours doing that, whilst I finished those few pages. We left them 13 pages left to type at lunchtime.

We shared a chicken tikka masala in the food court and waited for Rosie to appear.

She was house sitting for an Expat called John and so was throwing us a BBQ meal at his house. She bought beef burgers from Uchumi and everything!

So the 3 of us plus Boz took a private hire up to this mansion!

It was lush, with a real oven, fridge, huge LCD tv, swimming pool and indoor plumbing. Best yet – it had a pool.

Pretty quickly I’d borrowed a swimming cozy and we were in the water, enjoying the hill top views of Kampala and lake Victoria.

We managed to pass away the hours chatting, running around and making cups of tea. The TV had DSTV and so we could watch MTV and all the new music videos.

We sat and watched ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ during which time we ate our beef burgers and cheese, marinated chicken breast bits, roasted vegetables and steak bits – it was SO delicious!

Hide and seek followed, then some weird junky film called Candy.

But now it was 1.30am and I was feeling the effects of a hearty weekend.

Around 2.30am I went to bed and left them to it!


  • We’ve yet to paint our room – who knows when we’ll get the painting stuff from Vic and Emma.
  • Joseph has given us an Mbale date, 11th – 18th April, the end of term exam week. Which is exciting because we get a week from school, then dad flys and then its holidays!
  • James and Isabel’s BBQ weekend is a week this coming weekend, and after it, the plan is to go to Dan and Rob’s project out in Queen Elizabeth national park.
  • We still hope to finish at Project on Friday 16th July.

That’s all for now!

By J.Molkenthin

James Molkenthin is an enthusiastic and energetic British Designer, with a background in Graphics, Website and Product Design.