I wrote down a number of notes comparing and contrasting the two countries, and thought I’d share that with you, along with photos.
Leaving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, just after dawn -
Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, and it was truly beautiful, and very clean.
Nearly every inch of land is farmed and terraced, including way up some pretty steep peaks.
All along the road were various species of eucalyptus, and I loved the different shades of green.
The sides of the roadway were swept clean by “little old ladies” with short brooms made of tree branches or twigs. We drove along this road for 3 hours from Kigali to Goma, DRC and never saw any trash, and even very few leaves in the gutters. We passed many people walking to or from market (it was Sunday) dressed in very colorful clothes and carrying their bundles on their heads. (forgive some of these pictures for being blurry, as I took them out the window as we were driving)
Tea plantation below with eucalyptus trees marching up the hill -
We passed many bikes being ridden or pushed up hills with huge loads of charcoal:
The contrast between the Rwandan countryside and the urban sprawl of Goma, DRC was shocking:
Mount Nyiragongo, the volcano that we climbed, erupted in 2002, and destroyed about 50% of Goma. Today, it looked like they still hadn’t cleaned much up.
I had noticed that in Rwanda, almost all dwellings were built of concrete or brick and had wooden doors. In DRC, the buildings were constructed of wood and had curtains at the front door.
Along this main street in Goma, you can see how colorfully dressed the people are for Sunday, and the packages they carry on their heads - including plastic chairs to take to church so you have somewhere to sit:
Leaving Goma, we had to stop at this Ebola check station, where you had to leave the car, wash your hands from the taps dispensing bleach solution, and have your temperature taken at your temple by the people in the small building -
The barrier across the road:
The ranger station just inside Virunga National Park,
…where we picked up our armed escort to our lodgings.
Along the way, we passed the Congo version of “cheap” transportation -
…and on the side road up to our lodgings, roadside deals:
Throughout the Congo countryside, kids would run out and wave, yelling “Muzungu” which means “white people”.
Once we went up the hill, the patchwork of colors associated with farming was quite soothing after the noise and grime of the city.
Taking a walk through the nearby village attracted a large following (and reminded me of our village walk in the Solomon Islands) -
It’s common for the little ones who can’t walk yet to be carried on their mother’s backs in a cloth sling, but we occasionally saw older siblings helping out also:
These wooden bicycles carried huge loads from farms to markets (and don’t have brakes) -
To close this portion of the blog, I’ll finish with sunset over Mt. Nyiragongo - the volcano that we hiked. Next post begins the safari portion of our trip.