In Greek Mythology, “Apollo” is the god of knowledge, light, and sun who lives on Mount Olympus. In Rwandan lore, “Appolo,” the driver, the tourist guide, the coachman, and the man … is legendary. Appolo is a man highly regarded in and around Rwanda, indeed almost mythical. Upon entering Rwanda, I kept hearing the name “Appolo,” spoken each time travel to a different locale was proposed. At the time, I deduced that this all-inclusive “Appolo” was a retinue of coachmen that trekked the countryside of Rwanda. On my first commute day in Kigali, I met this “Appolo man” as the driver who would escort me to my residence. On my second sightseeing excursion, I asked the very same refined man, “And Sir, What is your name?” He politely stated, “I am Appolo.” I thought he spoke of the company name where he was employed. Confused, I reframed my question and inquired of his personal name. He looked at me curiously and stated, “I am Appolo or Appolinaire.” This tall, pleasant, composed, and punctual gentle man was himself thee Appolo of whom I had heard since my arrival. He was the driver, the tourist guide, the coachman, the man, and the legend. The man positioned before me at that moment, was the name that was hailed repeatedly by those seeking dependable transit. This one and only Appolo stood before me ready to take me on the tour of a lifetime. “Appolo of Rwanda,” or Appolinaire is a tourist guide extraordinaire! He was amenable to the itinerary that I had initially proposed. However, with his skill, knowledge, expertise, and observance of my time constraints, his conscientious recommendations obliged my consent and he became the architect of an unbelievable experience. Appolo took me on an expedition that I shall forever enshrine in my most cherished memories. His knowledge of history in the region is prodigious, descriptive, enveloping, well informed, sometimes personal, but most of all enlightening. His cultural pride is deeply respectful and worthy. We drove throughout the beautiful and developing city of Kigali of a thousand hills, its expanding downtown area, with its architectural marvel in the Bank of Kigali. Appolo was very mindful to mark points of interest, such as The Mille Collines, the foregone refugee center once known as Hotel Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. We journeyed passed Urugwiro, the President of Rwanda’s official residence and on to the entry of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which was temporarily closed for the genocide remembrance preparation. We visited the Ntarama and Nyamata churches, both memorials of the lost souls of the holocaust and once bloodstained annihilation chambers that should have been protected sanctuaries of innocent people. Both churches are now peaceful consecrated mausoleums abounding with the actual skulls, bones, and spirits of a sanctioned ethnic cleansing. During our long journey Appolo and I traversed the vales, crossed a beautiful narrow stream in this landlocked country, discussed farming, climate, and the colorfully beautiful people of Rwanda’s past, present, and future. We sojourned several of the well-known marketplaces including the famous Nakumatt market inside the City Centre. He showed me the Nyabugogo travel hub and Kimironko Market that I had visited previously. We stopped so that I could browse and shop at the curios Kaplaki craft market further out from Kigali. Appolo ended this incredible day in ushering me, right on schedule, to the Kigali International Airport for my evening flight. Anyone that has the unique privilege and fortuitous opportunity to visit Rwanda absolutely must seek and find this wonderful travel god of knowledge, light and sun….Appolo of Rwanda. I hereby, volunteer my honest and forthright testimony so that African trekkers to Rwanda may meet a man who fashioned a day in my life, that I shall never forget.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Kigali Off The Beaten Path
Carrying plastic bags is a no-no when entering Rwanda. The border police, when on road travel, will ask you to discard any plastic bags you have and transfer all your stuff in a paper bag or be prepared to throw them in the trash lest you carry them bare. Not to worry though, there are enterprising people selling paper bags at the border, just be ready with your Rwandan Francs, though some are willing to accept Kenyan Shillings.
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and throughout the city and its immediate suburbs, you will notice that the locals are making a serious effort in keeping their place neat and tidy..no litters! I think it is the cleanest place in East Africa.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
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