Laura in Rwanda

Laura is a senior journalism major in Meadows School of the Arts with minors in art history, photography and human rights. In August 2009 she is participating in the Human Rights Education Program trip to Rwanda, where the group will visit sites including the Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial and Urukundo Home for Children.

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Shops and food in Rwanda

Day 3

Today was likely our quietest day of the whole trip. I was exhausted last night after such a busy day and went to sleep at 9:30 PM.

I slept extremely well and ended up waking up around 5:30 AM. It was nice to wake up and see the sunrise and listen to birds singing outside of my window.

After getting dressed and checking e-mail, I made my way down to breakfast. Breakfast at the hotel here is delicious – every morning brings fresh pastries, bacon, eggs, porridge, passionfruit juice, and Rwandan tea and coffee.

Arts and crafts

IMG_7815.jpg Our first stop of the day was an arts and crafts market (photos left and right). While the goods were all beautiful and unique, it was pretty obvious that the vendors cater mostly to the American and European crowd. Many of the vendors were polite, but extremely pushy.

IMG_7828.jpg I’m not a huge shopper and am very selective with what I buy, so I tried to seek out a few of the more unique things and then, after comparing prices at different vendors, I made my final selections. I was reluctant to haggle too much, as prices were still unbelievably cheap compared to comparable goods in the States, but in a few situations I negotiated a little lower if something was incredibly “expensive.”

Local market

IMG_7875.jpg After the crafts market, we visited a local Rwandan market (photos left and below right). Immediately, my senses were overwhelmed with the colors, smells, and sounds.

One of our guides, Paul, led us through the market, showing us all of the goods available for sale. This market offered almost everything – clothes, toys, fresh meats, fish and vegetables, electronics, fabrics, etc. – and was bustling with many people.

IMG_7863.jpgOur afternoon was free, so I spent some time walking around the main city center, where I visited a large mall that primarily caters to expatriates. The grocery store there had many American items, including English books, toiletries, candy and more.

Rwanda’s Starbucks

In the same market, there was a great coffee shop called Bourbon Coffee. I was especially excited about visiting Bourbon after reading an article about the shop and its owner in the Kenya Airways magazine. The Bourbon business model is virtually identical to Starbucks – even the decor was similar. I had the Rwandan version of a Frappuccino, which, while delicious, left me with a pounding heart for the next two hours as my body processed the extreme amount of caffeine.

We had dinner at an Indian restaurant close to our hotel. I know that sounds strange, but in reality, Rwanda is quite a hub for all sorts of different cuisine. I’ve seen signs for everything ranging from pizza parlors to Chinese restaurants.

Tomorrow, we drive from Kigali to Butare, in the southern part of the country, where we will be spending two nights. I am especially excited for tomorrow, as we will be visiting the Urukundo Home for Children, a safe refuge for orphans of genocide and HIV/AIDS, that is run by an American expatriate.

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