Horizon Express to Huye and Back

My friend, Mariette met me at the taxi stop just up the hill from the house at 7:30 on Thursday morning.  We were waiting for the bus to take us into the town center to catch the intercity bus to Huye.  Huye, formerly known as Butare, is about 130 km south of Kigali, near the border with Burundi.  After several minutes, Mariette became concerned that we would miss the bus, so she suggested we take the moto taxis instead.  I agreed, and at that point, I realized that I had not been on a motorcycle in about 17 years (since I was involved in a serious accident in Colorado, when I drove a trail bike into the side of a garage).  Mariette located several experienced drivers, and I climbed aboard the back of the moto, and away we went.  I was given a helmet to wear and no further instructions or security.  I hung on to the bike and was a bit nervous, but my driver was quite good and it was a smooth, ten minute ride to the bus center.

The bus center was jam packed with people, cars, motos and buses.  We purchased tickets at the Horizon terminal and boarded the express to Huye.  This bus was quite nice.  The seats were large and comfortable.  The two hour trip cost us about four dollars a piece.  We went through the crossroads town of Gitarama, to the west of Kigali, and then turned south.  The only drawback on this trip was the very loud rap music that the driver had playing in the bus.  I could barely carry on a conversation with Mariette, but did learn about her time at the National University and her family.  Mariette was serving as my official guide and translator for this trip.

We got off the bus at the National Museum of Rwanda.  I spent several hours there.  It was a good museum, featuring the culture of Rwanda, some history, and a little of the natural history of this land.  One highlight for me was going inside a traditional thatched home and seeing how people lived in times past here.  I learned that milk was very important to the people, as was banana beer.  There was a good display on beer making.  Another display featured how homes had a special counter in their living area reserved for containers of milk.  These might have been wood or clay pots.  The milk was kept there to be served to honored guests.   Beer was often kept and transported in calabashes, big gourd-like containers.

We left the museum and rode motos to the National University.  The 5 km ride cost me about $1.oo. We toured the University, but I was unable to meet any lecturers or administrators as the University was closed for the holidays.  Mariette was an able guide, though, and I got to see academic buildings, athletic courts, student housing and faculty offices.  I took a number of pictures on this trip.  You can view them here. We stopped to have a Fanta at the pub on campus.  There was a basketball camp going on, so there were a lot of tall fellows eating lunch while we sat in the garden and had our drinks.  Francine, Mariette’s elder sister, joined us.  Mariette was raised in this town, and her mother and sister still live here.

We visited the public relations office of the University, the only office that we found opne and occupied at this time. I was presented with a brochure and some pens as mementos of my visit.  Mariette called a friend and he sent a friend of his to pick us up and transport us around town.  From the University, we went to the Hotel Credo and had lunch.  The special of the day was rabbit, so I took it, and it was served with rice, potatoes, eggplant and salad.  It was a very good and very full meal.  Our next stop was Mariette’s family home.  Mariette’s mother, Adelle, was a single mom who raised four children, and several additional orphans after the genocide.  The family home was quite modest.  Upon entering the house, I was greeted with a hug, and I was able to offer up a “Bonjour, Madame” to Adelle.  She spoke no English, so Mariette did all the translating work for us.  We talked about our families and our faith. 

Mariette told me that her mother had milk for us.  I turned behind me, and there on a counter behind my chair was a pitcher of room temperature milk, with the cream on top.  I graciously accepted and drank a cup.  I thanked Adelle for her hospitality.  This, I learned, was a high honor and I took it as such.

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