We arrived at our first stop in Rwanda. Musanze (or Ruhengeri) is a city in northwest Rwanda. It’s the gateway to Volcanoes National Park, home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses the soaring Mount Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. On the town’s outskirts, dense greenery surrounds the bat-filled Musanze Caves. To the east, Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo are set against a backdrop of verdant hills.
The city had a very different feel to the few African cities I have visited, to date. It seems to have been designed from a European template with pavements and single way traffic. I really like it and its the first time I felt ok to ramble around.
I am cooking today, so the cook group, 4 of us, went to the local fruit and veg market with a local guide/porter. Oasis Overland use him every time we’re in Musanze because he’s friendly and reliable. He’s a nice lad called Marcus. He helped us shop and probably saved us a fortune. The food looked magnificent but I noticed our western dress and mannerisms drew several glances. It’s always a struggle finding a balance between respect for the culture and traditions of the land or place you’re visiting and personal comfort. This Irish mzumga finds Africa HOT and wants to wear shorts but you hardly ever see Africa men wearing shorts. I’m not sure how they interpret western adult men wearing shorts; I must ask. Anyway, I try not to wear shorts outside venues or areas accustomed to westerners.
As soon as we walked into the market, a security guard with a large nightstick followed us and seemed to keep an eye on us. Maybe he thought we’d be hassled or maybe he was suspicious of mzungas. Who knows although I suspect it might be the former. There were a few unsavoury looking guys who also followed us with possible ill-intent. It’s important to keep your wits about you when teavelling in far off lands.
I just learned that Ruhengeri is the official name for this city and capital of Musanze District. Some sources now refer to the city itself as Musanze, after the district in which it lies. This has to do with the adopted policy of renaming Rwanda cities, which was done to eliminate terrible memories of the past and to install new administrational infrastructure in the country.