This Time for Rwanda

After a wild 18-hour layover in Nairobi, Kenya, Mwansa and I finally landed in Kigali, Rwanda where we stayed for a week.

We were immediately surprised and excited by the differences between Rwanda and Zambia. The roads are mostly paved, there are sidewalks, streetlights, 24/7 security. It was already a different world than our normal in Zambia. Here are a few highlights:

  • Kigali Genocide Memorial – a moving tribute to Rwanda’s history and the lives lost. I highly recommend visiting this memorial if in Kigali.
  • Riding around on a moto – We do not have motos or boda bodas in Zambia, so this was a fun treat. Luckily, in Rwanda, motos are regulated and drivers must have an additional helmet for their passenger and can only take 1 passenger at a time.
  • Food – Kigali is filled with wonderful food options from AkaBenz to Thai food to delicious cafes with lovely Rwandan coffee. Most of our week in Kigali was spent planning our next meal!
  • Kimironko Market – It was a treat to compare Rwandan markets to the Zambian markets we are used to at home. Though they are very similar, we loved getting lost in the market mazes and eyeing Rwandan trinkets.
  • Meze Fresh – I know I already talked about food, but Meze Fresh was my absolute favorite. I crave Mexican food regularly and miss it dearly. Meze Fresh, which means “I feel fresh” in Kinyarwanda, is the closest I have had to Chipotle in a year and I devoured my burrito.
  • Art Scene – Kigali has a lovely arts scene. My favorite was Inema Arts Center, run by very talented brothers.
  • Walking Around – Kigali seemed to be a very people-friendly city, with its plentiful sidewalks. Mwansa and I were surprised to see just how many people walked, even after the sun set. We, too, enjoyed walking around the city, exploring and getting lost in the hills.

Kigali was great, but I’d definitely say the highlight of this trip were the all of the people we met and visited from Global Health Corps, UNC, and Rotaract!

I wanted to visit the land of 1,000 hills for a lot of reasons. I wanted to see another part of the continent, to see another place where GHC fellows roam and to witness how they live their lives, and I know Rwanda is a very special country. Rwanda has been rebuilding itself for the past 22 years, writing a new story, and that is why Kigali is now so developed and one of the most expensive cities on the continent.

I have been told that Kigali is a unique part of Rwanda, surrounded by lush green and more rural areas in the rest of the small country. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to travel outside of Kigali, but I do want to visit Rwanda again and again. I also highly recommend it to others who are interested!

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