The Land of a Thousand Hills

Nifemi and I at the Inema Art Center, Kigali, Rwanda

I totally can't remember why Nifemihttps://www.linkedin.com/in/oluwanifemi-aikomo-989132b6 (on the left) and I (on the right), were laughing heartily but I can vividly remember that we were having so much fun at the Inema Art CenterInema Art Center Located in the heart of Kigali City, Inema Art Center is one of East African's major art galleries, housing a collection of artists from around the African continent., Rwanda. So how did we get here?

It all started on the 5th of Dec, 2020, after a wonderful wedding party. With stomachs filled with food and body sapped of energy, faffing was inevitable. As we bantered with each other, we gradually realised we weren't creating lasting memories with our current lifestyle. We spend so much time with work and indoor activities without being delibrate about other aspects of life.

In the quest to do better, we booked our flight to Rwanda that night. We had no plan whatsoever, we just did it!

D-Day

Looking back, maybe we should have planned a wee bit. We were to leave Nigeria on the 5th of Feb 2021. Five hours to departure, we still hadn't gotten our Covid results — thanks to the incompetent agency we made use of. We had to go the lab ourselves to request for our results. As we waited for our results, we were preparing for the worse but hoping for the best. The result finally came out roughly 3 hours to departure. Luckily we stay 15 - 20 mins away from the airport so we arrived just in time for check-in.

Like we haven't had enough stress, at check-in, we were told one of the entry requirements to Rwanda is a hotel booking for a 24 hours self isolation. We also needed a locator form, a way to track our movement in Rwanda. It took us another 20 - 30 minutes to sort out the pending requirements, just in time to sucessfully check in.

The Journey

We took off about 2:40 PM (UTC +1) or thereabout, after an hour delay. At this point, we were extremely famished and exhausted as we hadn't taken any meal all day. The flight's meal came in handy as we headed to Ethiopia. We got to Ethiopia by 8:05 PM (UTC +3). Without much delay, we boarded the flight to Rwanda. I was so looking forward to a warm bath and proper meal.

As we were about to take off, the pilot announced that we would be stopping over at Uganda. I was so devastated. It reminded me of danfo (yellow buses), in Lagos, Nigeria, that stops at every bus stop before getting to its finally destination. We were in a smaller fleet than the first, so our legs were cramped up. The best we could do was to look forward to a sound rest at our hotel in Rwanda.

Alas! We finally got to Kigali between 12:30 AM and 1:00 AM (UTC +2) on the 6th of Feb. The first order of business was to get our visas on arrival after which we were directed to take a covid test. With over 12 hours of an arduous journey, we finally checked in to the Manor Hotel and called it a night around 2:00 AM (UTC +2).

Self Isolation

A call from the room service woke us up. We were quite rested and feeling much better. Breakfast was served in our balcony with a view of the mountains. We savored the beautiful landscape as we ate with great relish. Whew! It was so surreal.

It was mandatory to remain in our hotel room until we got our covid result. We made use of the opportunity to rest and consume even more food.

Spaghetti carbonara and bread

When we finally got our results, we were able to take a walk around the hotel and have conversation with the hotel staff. They were so nice and delibrate on making us feel at home. We left the Manor hotel on Sunday morning to finally settle in for our work-cation. The hotel assigned a driver, Theodore, to drop us off at our apartment.

Work-cation

It was about a 20 minutes drive from the hotel to our apartment. Theodore told us more about Kigali as we drove down to our apartment. Kinyarwanda, English and French are the spoken languages in Rwanda. Kinyarwanda is the most spoken one. However, Theodore could speak all. This was when we knew we've gotten a tour guide. We got to our apartment, dropped our luggage and asked Theodore to take us to shopping.

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Theodore took us to the Kimironko market, one of the mjor market in Kigali, to get some foodstuffs and fruits. Mehn, the fruits and vegatables were so fresh and reasonably priced. I got some tomatoes, chilli pepper, watermelon, bananas, carrots and other essentials for a week or two. While getting some frozen chicken, I was asked if I was interested in rabbit meat. With a bright face, I said YES!!! I got some fresh herbs and spicies to marinate and prepare the meat. Theodore was really helpful in bargaining the prices of items.

We left the market and headed to the store to get groceries. We got enough items for about 2 weeks and headed home to prepare for work the next day. While I was preparing a spicy chicken stew, Nifemi was unpacking our bags or not. He would rather disturb me than focus on the simple task he was supposed to do:

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Working from Rwanda was so good for my health and mind. The weather is so temperate and the air is so fresh. The view from our apartment was also something to look up to. I was glowing all of a sudden cause my mind was at peace.

Adventure

Even if we just stayed in our apartment throughout our stay, we would have still had a fantastic experience. However, my travel buddy, Nifemi, planned out some interesting locations to visit. Himself and Theodore make arrangements, I just follow them, lol.

Rwanda Art Museum

We wanted to visit the Fazenda Senghahttp://sengha.com/ for some adrenaline rushing activities. However, due to Covid, some activities have been placed on hold till further notice. We quickly made a decision to visit Rwanda Art Museum.

Rwanda Art Museum was the former presidential home before being turned into a museum of beautiful art collections. The single-story building was filled with art depicting the genocide and peace in Rwanda. Most of the arts were donations from Rwandan artists and artists around the world. The story behind each art was really heartfelt.

After the indoor tour, we walked down to the remains of the presidential jet that crashed in 1994. As the tale of the crash and genocide was being described, we became despondent as we imagined the gore of the events that took place as the country fought for political stability.

Inema Art Centre

From a distance, you can spot the vibrant colors of the one-story building. On entering the museum, you are enthralled by the picturesque environment designed with decorative arts made out of random everyday materials. Everything in Inema Art Museum is an art.

The museum manager welcomed us and showed us the museum's art collection. He shared different stories with us as we viewed their magnificent collection. The most touching story was the kids-training programme they run. They train young kids, mostly the less privileged, on making art. With a step further, they also display the kid's art and put it up for sale. This helps the kids make a token for their upkeep while also amassing knowledge.

Before leaving the museum, we spent some time taking a closer look at the beautiful outdoor decor. Indeed, it's an art lover and curator's delight. Unlike the Rwanda Art Museum, visitors were given the free rein to take pictures. I really enjoyed my time here.

Lake Kivu