Monday, February 12, 2007


A long stop at Nairobi allowed me to explore that airport. I was very surprised - I thought a country with many tourists would have had a nice modern airport. But it seems not - this is an old 70s or so concrete building - lots and lots of concrete from which one can hardly look out - the small window slots are not transparent. Though I suppose in a hot country one should not have Northern European expectations of acres and acres of glass!

There is no electronic system that tells you which gate to go to. In fact, the 14 gates are not always even labelled, so you have to ask to find right gate. I am told this is one of the better African airports. And of course Kenya does not usually get help for infrastructure from the EU.

Unlike Rwanda which seems to have benefited a lot from EU aid at a first glance - at least in terms of road building (which is, of course, also a form of nation-building).

Kigali can only be described as a lush, verdant city with intense green, set off by the red earth which is everywhere even though the roads in my part of the town are tarmaced.. No sign of drought here, today - though other parts of the country do suffer from drought at times, or alternatively landslips and erosion due to excessive rain. The temperature is very pleasant - a bit chilly once it got dark, but perfect for Africa!

So last night, Sunday evening, we were sitting by the poolside in Kigali, just like in the book....Although an AIDS conference is in town, the poolside was surprisingly deserted; apart from us, and some groups of apparent 'working girls' hardly anyone was there. It's not difficult to imagine the situation by the poolside in 1994 during the genocide; though I find it hard to believe that people hiding in the hotel did not see what was going on outside - the hotel overlooks at least one busy road (albeit the area being overlooked does not seem densely populated).

Went out a little this morning, into a small scale commercial area which even at 7 am was already busy, people walking about standing about chatting calling for a phone (and a man with a phone in his hand comes running along and acts as a mobile phone booth). The shops were still shut and I could not change any money. Would like to tip some people some time and also make small local purchases, but a 100 dollar bill is not really convenient for that.

Not sure if we will be able to stay in this hotel today; it was fully booked for the conference (the Global Fund) and we only just managed to get two rooms for last night.....