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Imelda’s African Adventure - Rwanda & Kenya July 20th 2006 to July 30th 2006

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Aug 21st, 2006, 11:49 AM
  #81
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Richard mentioned getting lunch but we really didn’t want to stop because we wanted to get the the Genocide Memorial in Kigali before closing. We were supposed to visit there yesterday but missed it because of our delayed flights, clothes shopping etc. Richard said he thought we would make it AND have time for lunch so we gave in and after dropping Francois off, we stopped at the Muhabura Hotel in Rhuengeri. There we had a fabulous meal, even if it did take 11/2 hours!!!! I had vegetarian pasta, Deck had some sort of stew and Richard had spaghetti bolognaise. Poor Richard told us that he gets a meal allowance but we treated him to lunch and he was very thankful. During our meal Richard told us about his job and how much he loves it. It was then that he told us in a hushed voice that he is a Genocide Survivor. He told us that he lost his brothers, his sister and his father in the Genocide but didn’t go in to much detail and we got the impression that he didn’t really want to talk about ‘personals’ so we didn’t ask. We really couldn’t believe what a positive ‘un-bitter’ person Richard is and it certainly makes me feel bad and embarrassed for complaining about little things.
Anyhow, we eventually got Richard out of the Muhabura and on the road again. It was now about 1.30 and the Memorial stops letting people in at 4 so we had to hurry. Well Richard talked and talked along the way. He told us about the history of the conflict in Rwanda and about the Genocide. Some of the things he told us were unbelievable. He cleared up some of the misconceptions us people in the West have including the fact that the people in Kigali believe that ‘Hotel Rwanda’ is totally untrue and that in fact Paul Rusesabagina murdered some Tutsis rather than saved them!
After about an hour and a half Deck dozed off and Richard sped up a little – he had been driving quite slowly while we had been talking. It came to about 3.30 and it was touch and go whether we would make the Memorial on time. Richard tried his best but we had a couple of very brief stops along the way where Richard pointed out a large river and a photo stop where the view of the government building in Kigali was clear. I didn’t get out of the vehicle and I was actually more interested in making the Memorial than taking photos but I snapped a couple of quick photos from the vehicle as I didn’t want to insult Richard. After that he put the foot down a little and we reached the memorial at exactly 4.02pm & guess what – in ‘go slow, time doesn’t matter Africa’ they wouldn’t let us in! Richard tried to get us in but they were determined it was not going to happen. We were really disappointed but there was nothing we could do.

Joyce had phoned us earlier to tell us that she had tried to check if our luggage had arrived at the airport but they wouldn’t let her in past security so we decided to head there to check ourselves. On the way Richard asked if we wanted to go to the market to buy some souvenirs but we weren’t really in the mood and we told him that if we got our bags at the airport we would go shopping afterwards but if we didn’t then we wouldn’t as it would be difficult to carry them without having our luggage. The journey to the airport was short – about 10 minutes and after much tooing and froing inside the airport, we eventually discovered that our bags had not arrived. We were a little disheartened as now we had the issue of going back to Nairobi in the morning without our bags and the last thing we wanted to happen was for our bags to turn up in Kigali when we were in Nairobi or the Mara. It was now about 4.30-4.45pm and the guy at the airport told us that there was a ‘freight’ flight due in at 5.30pm so we should check back at 6pm. We tried phoning BA from the airport to see if we could find out where exactly our bags were but we couldn’t get a reply so we soon gave up on that. We went back out to Richard and filled him in on the situation. We decided that we would go and check in at the Hotel Des Mille Collines and I would change out of Joyce’s tracksuit so that Richard could take it back to her. Richard very kindly said that he would drive us to the Hotel Des Mille Collines, wait for us and then drive us back to the airport at 6pm to check on our bags again. So on to the Mille Collines we went. We arrived at the hotel and checked in. While we were checking in the clerk at the desk told us that there is a party going on tonight. We just said oh, OK and headed for our room. It was on the sixth floor overlooking the entrance to the hotel. There, I quickly changed out of Joyce’s clothes and back in to my own and we sorted out our tips for both Richard and Joyce. When I had budgeted our tips we hadn’t allowed for a tip for Joyce but after her being so kind with the tracksuit etc we decided to give her a something decent to say thanks. We also decided that the guideline tip of $10/person/day for drivers wasn’t nearly enough for Richard as he had been an absolute star and upped that quite a bit. Having sorted all that out we went back down to Richard who was waiting patiently and with fingers tightly crossed we set off for the airport again. We went back through the same security gates and got a few funny looks ‘weren’t ye here already?’, we explain again our situation and check in lost luggage again… alas, no bags. Now the fun of the adventure was beginning to wear a little thin, we were filthy dirty and hadn’t been able to change our clothes in 3 days - eewww!!! And we were going back to Nairobi tomorrow and onwards to Lake Nakuru and from there to the Mara – if we didn’t get our clothes we would have to try to find emergency ‘supplies’ tomorrow in Nairobi (not something we wanted to spend time doing as we only had one night in Nakuru and we would miss most of that if we had to go shopping). Anyways, we told the lady in lost luggage of our situation and gave and she advised us to check in lost luggage in Nairobi in the morning. We decided then to phone Kennedy from the airport to let him know that we would be late coming out to arrivals as we would be checking for our luggage and also to let him know that we had used his address as our forwarding address for our luggage should we not get it in Nairobi in the morning (we didn’t want it to be going to Nakuru if we were in the Mara and at least if it went to Kennedy he would make sure it got to us… or at least that’s what we hoped). Now, I had ‘spoken’ to Kennedy many times during the planning stages but I had never actually spoken to him in person. I got him on his mobile and told him of our problem ‘No worries, I’m glad you phoned’ he told me. ‘This has happened to people before – it will be OK.’ After phoning Kennedy we were feeling much better as now we had someone to help us solve our problem in Nairobi. With that, we went back out to Richard who again, was waiting patiently.

While we had been in the airport, Joyce had phoned Richard. She told him that she wanted to meet us and that Richard should phone her when we came out of the airport. Richard phoned her and then I spoke to her. At this stage we were pretty tired and Deck and I had decided to give Joyce’s clothes and tip to Richard to give to her. When I spoke to Joyce she was very insistent that she meet us at the hotel. I tried to tell her that it was OK and that we were sending her clothes and “a little something” with Richard for her and I thanked her for her kindness but she still was VERY insistent that she meet us. I think she was afraid that she wasn’t going to get a tip! And to be honest she really was a bit too pushy about meeting us. While I had been speaking to her on the phone we had arrived at the hotel. When I told Deck that Joyce had insisted on meeting us he told me that he had already given the money to Richard. Richard said it was OK; he would go to Joyce with her tip and clothes and tell her that she needn’t visit us as we were tired and wanted to go to bed (his phone was out of credit so he couldn’t phone her). We were glad that he was going to do that as it all gotten a little bit too much as we really were exhausted and knew that Joyce was ‘pursuing’ her tip.
As we hugged Richard goodbye he was very near tears and that almost made me cry too but we promised to keep in touch by e-mail.
Richard works for ITT when there is work but he intends to do some private work now he has his own computer (it arrived yesterday as a gift from an American couple he toured with for a month). If I was going to Rwanda again (or even Uganda) I would, without a doubt, want to have Richard accompany us – he is someone we will definitely never forget and without him our trip to Rwanda would not have been half as memorable. Joyce was also very nice and she really went beyond the call of duty lending me her clothes but her insistence of meeting us was a little overpowering and put me off a little.

Having sadly waved goodbye to Richard we go back up to our room where we are in bad need of a decent wash, as too are our clothes. Luckily, there is a freestanding fan in the room, which seems to work pretty well so we basically strip and I head for the bathroom to start washing. First though I have to get Deck in on cockroach patrol as there’s a large beasty on the mirror and there’s no bug spray. That sorted I get busy at the wash hand basin washing what I can – socks, underwear and tee shirts. Luckily we both have jumpers so we can wear these to dinner. One ‘little’ issue though, I had taken note of some of the postings here re wearing disposable undies on the international flight .... now have you ever tried to wash disposable underwear?? I discovered that it IS actually possible, though it MUST be done very gently !!! So with undies drying I decide to utilise the bath and have a good soak. Without paying too much attention I get in to the lovely warm water looking forward to easing my muscles but just as I’m lying back I look up .... eeeewwww ... the bath hasn’t been cleaned after the last occupant and there’s a thick ring of dirt right the way ‘round the bath .... yeeeuuucckk!!! So much for my long soak! At this stage we really are too tired to complain & I think the hotel was full anyways so we improvise and shower, avoiding the edge of the bath! Having washed I find the little bottle of complimentary body lotion – Brilliant – at least I have something to put on my very dry face. I open it and am just about to pour some out when just by chance I look at the cap ... for crying out loud ... there’s lots of ‘gunk’ inside the lid where they’ve obviously topped up the contents of the bottle ... now, for me, this really is the final straw when it comes to hygiene issues and I am totally disgusted. With a little frustration I decide that there is no way they are going to re-use this bottle again and I empty the contents down the sink and break the bottle with my foot .... there that feels just a little better. By now we are REALLY sorry that we didn’t opt for the Intercontinental – only $60 more than what we paid for this absolutely filthy hole. At least we’re only there for one night.

Well, undies dried, we get dressed and head downstairs to arrange our complementary airport transfer for our 6.45am flight in the morning. Now I know people on this board said that there really is no need to check in the recommended two hours beforehand but Richard advised us otherwise and based on our flight experiences in Africa , together with the punctuality of the Genocide Memorial (!!), we decided that we weren’t taking any chances. We told the clerk at the desk we needed to be at the airport at 4.45am so we needed the transfer at 4.30am. We made our request and the guy said “we leave at 5am”. Now I didn’t want to be awkward but there was no way I was leaving it that late and after a LOT of pleading and explaining our situation, we agreed on a compromise - leaving at 4.45am. THEN he says … quote …“I’ll have to negotiate with the driver”!!!! For crying out loud. Anyways, we agree to check back with him after dinner and we head for the restaurant. There we order main courses. Decks meal was fine and mine was OK but not very appetising – beans, rice and spinach. I ate a couple of mouthfuls but wasn’t all that hungry so it didn’t really matter. Afterwards we checked back at reception about our transport and the guy said 4.45am was OK. We booked a wake-up call and toddled off to bed where I basically collapsed into a comatose sleep. Deck wasn’t that lucky though – the party the guy at reception mentioned when we checked in, involved a Jazz band which was located directly below our room and played until 2.30am.
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Aug 21st, 2006, 12:14 PM
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EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW unlceaned tub! No more needs to be said there. Neither do I need to say more on washign disposable underwear

Richard is awesome and yes he made the vacation in Rwanda for us. What an incredible guy. He should be bitter and enraged with his life, but he is not. Long story short he was in Kigali when the genocide went down. He went outside, got chased and shot at by a band of me. He leaped off a tall bridge to escape them and on landing shattering one of his legs, sending bone potrudign through. Someohow he made it to a hospital and spent many days and nights there, never sure if it would be his last.

I am thrilled that someone else bought him a computer.

It seems like you and I had a similar curse with the Kigali Museum. For some crazy reason it was closed the day we were supposed to be. Richard tried begging the guards to let us even walking through for a few minutes, but no dice. I was BUMMED.

Yeah, Kigali people are not much thrilled with Rusesabagina. They feel AT LEAST he is taking more credit than he deserves, but I have others say they think he was complicit, at least in the beginning.

Why on earth do they have such an issue at Millie Collines with having the shuttle pick you up and get you tot he airport at the time you need. They gave me a similar *&^%$ run around also

By the way, I am also glad you treated Richard to some grub. We stopped in one town and got lunch. Most lunches were pretty cheap around six dollars or so. When we got to the restaurant, he slipped away when we sat down. Found out later he just couldn't afford to eat there. But we treated him to somethign later.

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Aug 21st, 2006, 12:45 PM
  #83
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Wayne, yes, the bath tub certainly was not a nice experience - especially discovering the fact when I was actually IN it!!! We were really sorry we hadn't booked the Intercontinental especially as I had hummed and hawed about it beforehand and had opted for the Mille Collines because of it's location. And that guy at the desk really annoyed us with the shuttle 'issue' - our thoughts were, there's either a shuttle or there isn't but don't tell us there is one and then not be prepared to get us there on time and when he said he would have to "Negotiate with the driver after we agreed to a later time, well I could have given him an earfull but decided my energies were better put to use enjoying our holiday and not winding myself up.

Wayne, I had completely forgotten you missed the Memorial as well. Richard also pretty much begged the guys to let us in too but we told him that it was OK and not to bother as there guys seemed to like seeing people beg and they had absolutely no intention of changing their minds. We were very dissapointed though but it just means that now we have to go back to see it Poor Richard was very dissapointed for us and he kept apologising.
Now that I know that Richard couldn't have afforded to eat at the Muhabura I am doubly glad we invited him to join us. He certainly seemed to enjoy his meal and as you said, it didn't break the bank. He certainly deserved a nice meal.
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Aug 21st, 2006, 12:47 PM
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Ewwww Imelda...sounds like you had a pretty bad Milles Collines experience. I was lucky there, but the last night we stayed what was not nearly as enjoyable as the first two. There was some sewage problem going on in our toilet and our room stank and they had given us twin beds that weren't made up together.

It's funny what you say about the lotion. We stayed at the Milles Collines 3 separate times and each time got different complimentary items. Once we had shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, shoe shine kit, sewing kit and razor! Once just a half bottle of used lotion. GO FIGURE!
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Aug 21st, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Yes Lucia, it was pretty gross. I'm glad you had a better experience though that half bottle of used lotion wasn't the best hygiene advertisement either. In my opinion, the $125 for the room was definately not worth it. At least if we had gone someplace cheaper we wouldn't have expected 4* treatment (which is what the Mille Collines is supposed to be and it certainly isn't 4*!). Another thing I forgot to mention was that when I booked the room on the internet I booked a pool view room but forgot. If I had remembered and had gotten it it would have meant we would have been a bit further from the band!! Also, at the risk of sounding like a whinge (which I really am not - and don't want to be), when we were checking out we asked to pay our bill in $US. It totalled $147 (including our meal) and we gave him $150. We told us he didn't have any $US change and wanted to give us Rwandan Francs in change. We got the impression he was trying to 'encourage' us to leave him the change! We told him we didn't want change in RWF as we were leaving. Miraculously he 'found' $US ! (Throughout our time in Africa we WAY over tipped but I don't like being 'encouraged' in that way, especially when the person isn't particularly nice).
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Aug 21st, 2006, 02:04 PM
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Imelda sorry you had such a yucky experience in Hotel Rwanda. We stayed in the Novotel and it was fine.

The Genocide Museum was wonderful and I'm sorry that both you and Wayne could not see it. We spent about 2 hours there and it was VERY moving.
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Aug 21st, 2006, 02:24 PM
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I did see the Murambi Genocide Center, but that was quite a different experience. The visitor's center was not open yet, but they had about 2 dozen rooms filled with skeletons of unearthed genocide victims and another room with bloody clothing hanging on a clothesline Somber.

Richard was looking forward to us seeing the Kigali museum because that talked about the ideology (a word Richard used dozens of times) of how Tutsis were viewed by Hutus.

BThe people at the Mille Collines apparently think they are still the only hotel in town and are way snootier than they are worth.

The enocide museum has a website, I once had it. I just tried Googlign that and I can't find the URL. However, I found an interesting article on Rwanda and whether Rusesabagina is a hero.

http://www.hotel-onlineDOTcom/News/2...151086663.html
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Aug 21st, 2006, 11:58 PM
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Yes, they ARE snotty at the Mille Collines - they have no reason to be!!!! I definately won't be staying there again!

Wayne,
I cant seem to get that link to work?! Would love to have a read.

Marty & Wayne,
I'm going to say something that Richard kept pointing out to me when I inadvertently referred to the Genocide Memorial as a Museum quote: "Memorial NOT Museum". He was quite insistent that I got it right!!

Imelda
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 05:18 AM
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I have completed reading up to "this is Burundi." Never have I seen such a difficult start to a safari, and from where I left off, you are not in the correct country yet! I completely understand the BA terminal 3 and 4 vs. 1 and 2 confusion with the buses, having just gone through that.

You are a good writer and have me hooked. Can't wait to read the rest!
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 06:07 AM
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There are many different points of view about Paul Rusesabagina---but there is no evidence that he was complicit in the genocide.

A lot of the opposition actually comes from folks in the government, including Kagame, who feel threatened by Ruesabagina and think he wants to run for office in Rwanda.

I came away from Rwanda shocked that such slaughter ever happened in such a beautiful and peaceful country---and yet also uneasy that it doesn't seem over. The rumors are still going and that is terribly worrying. I had a horrible dream two nights ago that the genocide was beginning again. Ugh.
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 06:50 AM
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So you made it to Rwanda, even if your bags did not, and are about to approach the Amahoro group. (I stopped there.) That's the good news. The bad news is that I can't recall a Burundi trip report and it would have been nice if you could have supplied one on your adventures in that country.

The Coke incident was hilarious.

Gorilla’s Nest was also the coldest place in Africa that I have stayed. I remember longing for the sun’s rays to shine through the trees so I could run out and bask in the warmth. Still, that’s where I would stay again for the convenience factor.

Your hint about saying you are not fit rather than just requesting an easier gorilla group is a good one.

The lack of sarcasm in the attendant’s comment, “For those who rejoined the flight...” had me laughing. I can just picture it and hear that matter of fact comment made in that beautiful accent. It reminded me of the time my use of humorous sarcasm fell completely flat. I had returned from a game drive at Chitabe and was thrilled about seeing the wild dogs denning. The ladies greeting me as I exited the vehicle asked, “How was your drive?” I answered, “I saw some beautiful palm trees that I photographed,” then added what I thought was the punchline, “Oh, and near the foot of the palms was also this wild dog den with 8 pups. That was nice too.” They did not find any humor in the remark and went on to state how pleased they were I liked their trees, how much they themselves enjoyed the palm species, and that they would be happy to show me some more beautiful palm trees in camp. Obviously I had just bombed.

I’m looking forward to your gorilla encounter and the rest of your trip when I return to your fascinating post later today for more entertainment.
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 07:11 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement to just DO it! I'm definitely thinking about it!

And still enjoying your report so much!
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Imelda, I am trying not to post a regualr link, because I know it throws off the formatting of the whole page. Someone sent me a link to TinyURL site which can be used to solve the problem. But I have been too lazy

hotel-online . com/News/2006_Jun_23/k.TBE.1151086663.html

Just take out the space before and after the period and you will have the complete URL.

And I will remember from now on, Memorial not Museum. A museum implies old paintings and other artwork that is static. One can just go for a little diversion. A memorial is powerfu8l, dynamic and life changing, especially when you consider this only happened TEN years ago. The memorial is still growing more information is being added.

Yes it is INCREDIBLY hard to believe that all this ugliness happened in one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. The Rwandese are trying to "put it all behind them" and not talk about it (especially to outsiders) but as Richard drove around the country, I couldn't help look at lots of men in their 30s and 40s and wonder what they did 10 years ago.

The tension is abosolutely still there. As we sat in the Gorilla's Nest lounge and Richard told us about THE WAR, he whispered, looked around and made sure no one was close to him.

While some of the most radical parts of the Hutu miltia were driven away, the common every day person who may have done killing, went back to his life.

I know they are having these tribunals, but... it is a strange situation.
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Aug 22nd, 2006, 02:25 PM
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I am now up to date with your report. That's terrific the gorilla trek went so well. Seeing a 4-week old baby had to be a highlight. Richard sounds like a gem, as does Deck!

Sorry about the bathtub experience and that you had to discover that disposable undies are actually washable.
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Aug 23rd, 2006, 08:09 AM
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Imelda:

I recently discovered it seems to work better to upload photos to the Kodak Gallery if you open the kodak software on your own computer, create an album, select all, and express upload from your software (rather than from the website). I'm on dial up too, and it would time out on me all the time when I used the website. For some reason, it doesn't seem to do that using this method. It still takes forever, though. Once you get the pics uploaded, you can easily copy them into one big album of all those loveyl african photos! Hint hint hint

Cyn
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Aug 23rd, 2006, 12:31 PM
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Hi Guys,

Sorry I've abandoned the thread for a little while, I'm a little under the weather at the moment so I'm not up to posting much ..... SORRY!!! Hopefully I will kick this soon and get back on track.

Lynn,
Thank you SO much for your kind comments and I'm glad you've caught up with our Adventures!
You had me laughing out loud with your 'sarcasm story' and it rang so true. They really don't 'get' sacrasm at all which I suppose is a good thing. We did try a couple of funny sarcasm comments ourselves but soon realised the error of our ways .
The 4 week baby Gorilla certainly was 'SOME' sight, I couldn't believe our luck when Francois told us about the TWO babies. Muhabura really stole my heart though And yes, Richard just has to be one of THE nicest people I have ever met (other than Deck of course ) Deck, too was brilliant throughout this trip. He really could have rubbed in that visa issue in Burundi but didn't even mention it which I was very glad of and he definately was the best person to have around when things went wrong as he's one of those people who never gets too flustered and normally sees the funny side. We had LOTS of laughs!!!

Wayne & Lucia,
Yes, the Genocide is still in the background and when Richard told us "I'm a survivor", he looked around to make sure no-one could hear him and whispered it to us. In fact, he whispered it so lowly that I had to ask him to repeat it. It was that which made me realise that the tensions must still be there although no-one ever implied or said it.
Wayne, YOu mention the commone everyday person - when we were driving back into Kigali towards the Memorial we passed a crossroads where there was a pickup with young men in the back all dressed in baby pink boiler suits. We asked Richard who they were and he told us these were the people brought before the tribunals. Richard didn't even look at them as we passed. These men were so so young, we couldn't believe it - it was a sight that will live with me.

Kavey,
I'm glad you are considering the trek. I really cannot stress enough how the trekker makes sure he goes slow enough for everyone and once you get to the group you forget all about the uphill climb and the downhill is easy enough especially with those walking sticks. Before I booked this trek I seroiusly considered not doing it because of our lack of fitness and my asthma and had I heeded what is written on some websites that I found I would NEVER have done it. Those things were definately exaggerated a bit.

Cyn,
Hint taken!! Although I have to say I want to get a little further on with the report before I get carried away with the pics, (and I do seem to get carried away with things at the best of times!!). I have one question - where can I get the Kodak software for my PC? Can I just download it from the website? Sorry for such a silly question but I'm new to all this photo sharing . I also want to try to get hold of a photo editing package as I have some shots that are definately less than perfect but worth trying to save if at all possible - any recommendations? I know photoshop is the preferred but how much does it cost and where is the best place to get it do you know??
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Aug 23rd, 2006, 12:54 PM
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Imelda:

The following link will take you to the page where you can download the software (I think)- hope it works - syas it'll take 140+ minutes on dial up.

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQueri...q-locale=en_US

I think you can get the photoshop software at Adobe's website, but perhaps someone who knows more than I can give you better advice. I know the panasonic came with photobase, which allows you to do SOME editing of the pics - saturation, hue, contrast, brightness. That's as far as I've gotten.

Good luck!

Cyn

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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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Thanks a million for the link Cyn. I haven't tried downloading it yet - will do over the weekend hopefully.
Somehow I missed the photobase disc with the camera - better have a look for it! Is it relatively easy to use?



JULY 23rd – Yes, No, Maybe, Yes, and No –YES – Lake Nakuru Here We Come!!

Well, as I said, the Jazz band played until 2.30am and Deck didn’t get much sleep. I hadn’t had an excessive amount either – maybe 5 hours, so we were both pretty tired this morning. We weren’t looking forward to trying to get our luggage problem sorted in Nairobi and even more so were apprehensive about having to buy clothes to tide us over, in the very likely event that we didn’t get our bags. I swear, I had visions of going home to Ireland & still having not seen our luggage – BA have a history of doing this to us!!!

At 4.45am we got on the minibus to the airport and arrived at around 5.05am. We weren’t the first there and I went to double check with Kenya Air that the Kigali office would definitely notify Nairobi not to send our luggage there. Reassured, we went through emigration and waited for our flight. We boarded and I’m very happy to say …… IT WAS UNEVENTFUL … boy am I glad I can say that! In Nairobi we went to the first KA person we saw at one of the boarding gates. We explained our story again and then this girl went and got another lady for us. Again we told our story – by now I was getting tired of repeating it because I was convinced that our luggage was in luggage limbo but this lady turned out to be VERY helpful. We showed her our luggage tags and she said she normally works in baggage and that yesterday she saw a couple of bags with EI codes (our tags had EI codes) but she didn’t know if they were ours. We weren’t getting our hopes up and asked if we didn’t get our bags if we should contact BA but she told us to stick with KA – wow – someone who didn’t want to pass the buck! With that we head to emigration, explaining why we have no bags. One guy found the fact that we had lost our luggage 3 days beforehand hilarious and told our story to the guys at the emigration desk who in turn had a little chuckle. The first guy then followed us and pointed out where we should go to try to find our bags. We go downstairs to the KA baggage area where there must be at least 100 bags just lying around in the open. We ask the guy who is in charge of these lost bags and he tells us to look around. We look and look – no bags L then this guy tells us to check the BA area and points out the area. I continue to look in the KA area while Deck goes to check the BA area. EUREKA, Deck shouts over ‘One of our bags is here!’ At least now we both will have ‘some’ clothes (I ALWAYS split our clothes between bags just for this reason). Well, BA have all the bags in the area chained together so Deck goes in search of someone to unlock our bag. I don’t actually ‘get’ the chaining together thing as the bags are out in the open and can just be unzipped in order to remove items or if someone wanted to steal one, all they would have to do is cut the handles … go figure!
Anyways, while Deck is gone on a wild goose chase I have another look around and this is where things are REALLY looking up, I find our second bag …. YIPPEE!!! I can’t believe it – I am SOOO happy. Deck comes back and tells me we must go to a different part of the airport to find a BA person so out we go and there waiting for us is Kennedy and Mules (pronounced Moolay) our driver. After MUCH back and forth to and from different sections of the airport we EVENTUALLY get our bags. THEN, they don’t want to give Deck a written confirmation that we have gotten our bags (apparently the girl who issues there is not there!) but Deck insists (we need this to register our complaint with BA on our return home). This is the 3rd time BA have lost our luggage in as many international flights but this time has definitely been the most inconvenient. Last year the lost all our luggage on our return from the US which wasn’t too bad but the year before they lost my vanity case with all our medication, toiletries etc for the entire duration of our trip and we only received the case when we checked in for our return flight home. They hadn’t bothered to forward it to us and couldn’t tell us on the numerous times we telephoned lost luggage, where our bag was. We never actually complained on either of those occasions but this time we definitely will …….. can you tell we’re not happy with BA?!!!

Anyways, back to the story (and mini-rant over J ), luggage in hand, two VERY happy people relaxed and chatted to Kennedy. I told him of our Burundi ‘adventure’ and we had a good laugh about it. We changed some money at the airport and it was time to load up into our van. I had packed some gifts for Kennedy and his family but I was a little wary as we have been warned about theft in Nairobi airport and I was a bit afraid that some of our stuff will be missing – especially the gifts. I was thankfully proven wrong as I located all of the items J. I gave them to Kennedy to take with him, as I didn’t want to cart them all around Kenya. He was very thankful and we said goodbye and set off for Nakuru with Mule.
The journey to Nakuru was long and very dusty and bumpy, especially where the roadworks were. Mule was not what you could describe as a quick driver so there were lots of vehicles passing us out and throwing up dust in their tracks. Mule didn’t talk very much so the journey was relatively quiet. Along the way we saw our first troop of baboons and I made Mule stop so that I could get my first photographs of Kenyan wildlife. We reached the nearest gate to Lake Nakuru but weren’t sure if we could enter here because of the new rules of ‘no cash at the gate’ but Mule stopped and asked if they would let us enter and we would come back with (I assume with the paid pass from the Lion Hill Sarova). Thankfully they let us enter here, as, had they not, we would hade had to drive for a further half hour to get to the next gate.

We started through the park where we saw Waterbuck, Impala, a herd of Buffalo and some Guinea fowl before reaching the Sarova. The drive from the gate to the Lodge took only about 10 minutes and we arrived sometime after 2pm. We check in and are told that Kennedy phoned ahead to let them know we were on our way. We were given room number 25 which is located towards the far end from the reception / main lodge. We were extremely happy with this room as it had a good view of the lake and flamingos and we liked being a bit away from the Lodge. The room itself was actually quite small but it didn’t feel that way. It was very nicely decorated and was spotlessly clean – a MAJOR improvement on the Mille Collines! In fact we were absolutely delighted with the quality of the room. After having a quick change of clothes …. YAAAYYY … clean clothes!!!!! , we head to the buffet for lunch. The food here is fantastic with lots and lots of choices of very good food. I thought, being vegetarian, there would just be the salad bar with maybe one or two hot meal choices but I was wrong – there was MUCH more. I had a fabulous salad from the large and varied salad bar. The breads were amazing (lots of different choices) and there were at least 4 vegetarian choices in the hot food selection, all Yummy. There was also a very nice fresh fruit selection where I knew I was back in Africa when I tasted the amazingly fresh pineapple – there really is nowhere on earth where you can get fresh pineapple like that in Africa! The wait staff were very nice and efficient and over all we were very impressed.

We had arranged to meet Mule at, I think, 3.30 for our first real gamedrive. We had mentioned to Kennedy and Mule that we would love to see leopard but what would be would be. We set off and we are just about 4 minutes in to the gamedrive when we spot about 4 vehicles parked on a roadway beside a wooded area. We pull up and, you’ve guessed it, there on a tree about 80 metres away is a leopard relaxing!!! I really can’t believe it, our very first sighting is a Leopard …. Wow, things are just getting better and better. I watch captivate by this beautiful animal just lazing in that tree unmindful of the people around him / her. In the meantime more vehicles are gathering and there is one with a teenager (maybe 17yrs old) who is literally shouting something to the effect of we’ve seen it, now lets go. They had only been there a couple of minutes at most and I was definitely a bit annoyed that he and his travel companions would let him risk ruining the opportunity of others of viewing the leopard. Mercifully the driver pulled off fairly quickly and the leopard ignored the shouting. We stay with the leopard for about 15 minutes just watching and then we reluctantly move off to let others have a look-in. I was definitely on a high, we had found our luggage AND a leopard all in one day!

Mule said it would be better to go to the ‘pink’ lake in the morning as there wouldn’t be as many vehicles then so we did a very quick gamedrive on our way to Baboon Cliff. Along the way we saw the herd of buffalo again, a Cattle Egret, Zebra, Pelicans, White Rhino, Thompsons Gazelle, Pink flamingo in the distance (a teaser) and a Marabou Stork. A Black Backed Jackal quickly crossed the road in front of us but didn’t hang around and we also saw our first Lilac Breasted Roller. Up at Baboon Cliff the view was very beautiful. There we saw a dove and what our guide called a ‘Jackson’ ( a small orange / black bird). We stay at the Cliff to take great photos and soon we have to head back towards the Lodge. On our return journey we see Grants Gazelle and we arrive back at the lodge at about 6.30pm.
Back in our room we cull some of our dirty clothes (not too many due to the missing luggage!), one of our travel pillows (I kept the other to use as a ‘bean bag’ for my camera – VERY good move that turned out to be!) and some other bits and pieces so that Mule can take them back to Nairobi and we will collect them on our return from the Mara. After a fabulous bath and another change of clothes (having clothes to change in to is a novelty and I’m taking advantage ), we head to dinner, which again is fabulous – especially the pineapple fritters which they cook right in front of you! Yum, Yum!! Deck also enjoyed the barbeque outside and managed seconds. After stuffing our faces we go to the bar and order a carafe of red wine to take back to our room to enjoy on the patio. We just settle down on the comfy chairs and I have just started downloading the days photos when we hear the nights entertainment begin. Of course I can’t resist going back to the bar area for a look so I finish up downloading and we take the wine back to the bar. There we watch some of the dancing but it’s not long before all those early mornings are catching up on us so we go back to the room and get sorted for the morning and fall in to bed very happy and content – this is the life!
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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:39 PM
  #99
 
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I'm so glad you finally got your luggage! How long was the drive from Nairobi to Nakuru?
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Aug 24th, 2006, 12:49 PM
  #100
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Patty, How on earth did I forget to mention how long the journey took, after that MAJOR discussion about travel time in the planning stages?! - It took us about 3 hours but I'm sure it could be done in 2 and a half easy enough.

Imelda
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