Saturday, September 15

Boom Boom Boom Butare

I'm in Butare, Rwanda's second city and the "intellectual capital", according to my guide book. The national university is here, and the national museum. And a bookstore, with months-old Economists and editions of the journal Politique Africaine from the early '80s the most interesting things on offer. There doesn't appear to be a whole lot else, though the Hotel Ibis (where we're not staying) has a nice patio restaurant, where one can sip the beers of Rwanda - Primus, Mutzig, Amstel. None of these is particularly impressive, but all are fine, especially when it's warm out. Primus and Mutzig also come in 67cl varieties, which is fun.

Also my half-hearted vegetarianism has recently dropped to more like quarter-hearted or less. Kampala was easy, with its Indian and Italian and Turkish restaurants. But in Rwanda, the good meals range from steak-frites to fish and chips to kebabs with fries. It's good though - at least the Belgians left something good.

I would also like to share a sample clue and answer from the crossword in today's New Times newspaper. Clue: "more than one tot". Answer: "tots".

We arrived yesterday after spending a day or two in Kibuye, a town on beautiful Lake Kivu. We spent the first night in a church-run hostel, which luckly also had a popular bar. We then spent a long time on busses retracing our steps back to Kigali and down to Butare, a journey which really made me appreciate how central the soundtrack is to the bus experience. As we passed through the beautiful green hills of Rwanda, our first bus played a four song loop consisting of Akon's "Nobody want to see us together", "Barbie Girl", something I don't remember, and the Vengaboys classic "boom boom boom boom". Luckily my cramped seat didn't provide enough space to endulge the temptation to violently bob my head to the latter. The second leg had a slightly-longer loop of swahili reggaeton/hip hop, which wasn't bad, though it was extremely loud.

On a somewhat-related note, if you've never tried it, driving through a Nairobi slum in a taxi with windows down blasting R. Kelley's "I'm a Flirt" is a pretty fun experience.

Tomorrow, we head to the least-secure and best-named stop on our tour - Bujumbura, or "Buj" as they say. I'm told the risk of being stopped by bandits or rebels is quite low if you pass through during the day.

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