A Dose of Reality
Coming from Uganda, with its overwhelmingly friendly and gregarious people, it was immensely noticeable the difference in attitude of Rwandans. It doesn't take much thought or math to figure out why. With Genocide just a bit over a decade in the past, you have to realize that EVERY single adult was effecting in some way. Almost every single 30 year-old person and older either killed or had someone they knew/loved killed. Its just the facts. Its not an exaggeration. And, I most certainly am not condemning those who remain. For a country so recently removed from such atrocities, I was amazed at just how things are "normal". People are generally very straight-faced, but willing to help. No one really bothers you. The country was the cleanest in Africa that I visited. There are designated days where, by law, everyone is required to pick up garbage. There are reconciliation "trials" around the country that try to reintegrate the killers, for if they didn't, there would not be much of a population base. So, it goes that you are walking on ground where up to 800,000 people were killed, some of them by the people you are greeted by in the store. If you learn the history, and beginnings, of the genocide, which the museum in Kigali does a great job of, you will start to see how its beginnings came from the minds of Europeans (not condemning you guys either...) and based on looks. It wasn't even historical political or tribal differences, just how wide your nose was and how short you were. An immense tragedy.
Porters and guards
At the car park where the gorilla trek starts, porters are available for hire to carry your gear on the trek. I would wholeheartedly recommend you getting one, not only as it leaves you free to scramble unencumbered, it also helps the local economy.
I'm not sure whether it was to protect us from gorillas, other wildlife (buffalo in particular) or poachers that we were acompanied by one armed guard at each end of the group!
- Hiking and Walking