Basic Assumptions

While sitting at breakfast this morning at the CINFOP Guest House, I composed a list of basic assumptions about staying in hotels that one should not make while traveling to Musanze Rwanda. For those of you who are used to staying in hotels in the United States, please slow down and read this list carefully if you are considering a trip to Musanze, or for that matter, many cities in Africa.

  1. Animals will not be in your room.  This is not a good assumption to make.  I have found birds and reptiles in my room and there are always lots of insects.
  2. Strangers will not approach you for conversation.  I know it is rare that strangers will approach you in an American hotel.  If you are a Mzungu in an African hotel, be prepared for all kinds of people to converse with you!
  3. You will check in and be asked to register and you will know the financial terms of your lodging at check in.  This is not a safe assumption.  Please be proactive at the beginning so that you are not surprised at the end.
  4. You will have hot water on demand.  Ha!  You may have hot water, at some time during your stay.
  5. You will have water at all.  You may have some water, at some point during your stay.
  6. The water from the tap is safe to drink.  Please know that while many assumptions on this list will cause you inconvenience, this one could cause you distress.  Be prepared to bring your own bottled water.
  7. When you shower, your bathroom floor won’t be flooded with water.  Please be careful on those wet bathroom floors.
  8. Your toilet will flush.  Hey, there is some water in there, isn’t there?
  9. You will have toilet paper, soap and shampoo in your room.  Don’t wait until you sit down to determine whether there is paper in the bathroom.
  10. Your room will be cleaned or tidied daily.  You literally may have the only room key. Be thankful that housekeeping staff finds you when you are around so that you can let them in to tidy up.
  11. You will have electricity.  While you expect this as a basic feature available at an American hotel, I can assure you that electricity can be an occasional luxury in Musanze.
  12. You will be able to read in your room at night.  While you have electricity, there is no guarantee that the light will be sufficient for reading.  Bring a headlamp or mini-flashlight to be sure.
  13. You will have free, uninterrupted access to the Internet.  You may have access to a local newspaper somewhere in the neighborhood.
  14. When you order a meal, you will be served within 90-120 minutes of placing your order.  Be prepared to hear “soon” when asking how long it will be before the food arrives.  If you hear a chicken shrieking at some point after placing your order, at least you know that progress is being made on your dinner.
  15. You recognize the food you are being served.  It’s an adventure, and usually a pleasant one, but please don’t get hung up on actually knowing what you are eating.
  16. You will be able to communicate effectively with hotel and restaurant staff.  Please don’t assume that if someone smiles and says yes that he has understood you and is complying with your request.

At least its not the Hotel California.  I found that I could leave after I checked out.  And regardless of how challenging it seems, I would not trade the memories of our stay at the CINFOP Guest House for anything! The grounds were amazingly beautiful, the people were lovely, the price was right and it was just a short walk to the place where we were working.Scot and Friends

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