Into the valley…

The journey today from our base in Kigali to Muhanze was even more dramatic than those we undertook on each morning of the first week’s activity here in Rwanda, as the rolling hills became steeper and the vegetation more lush the further we ventured, in Steady Eddie’s love bus. The ride was also rather longer today, and we were afforded views not only of stunning valleys, ravines and paddy fields, but we were also entertained by the various road cyclists (described by Lee as ‘just lazy’) who instead of pedalling uphill, preferred to simply cling on to the back of slow-moving trucks for 20 minutes until they reached flatter ground further on. When you consider the length and steepness of some of the hills they were faced with, these local cyclists couldn’t be blamed.

Pit stop

Half way to Ruhungeri, in Muhanze, we made a stop to nourish ourselves with ham and cheese sarnies, some blameless but plain cakes, and also (bizarrely) roast potatoes sold individually from an open grill. These went down remarkably well with the team, and although Lee’s request for Yorkshire pudding and gravy to top it off was found wanting, we continued on our way with full bellies nevertheless. James (where the hell am I) Alder made his way to our trusty bus after our potato/toilet stop, and mysteriously hopped on to a bus that looked like ours…. but he almost ended up in Burundi with a bunch of strangers before he made his apologies and eventually found OUR (admittedly rather similar) bus, having realised his error. The remainder of our journey featured thumping tunes from the 80s and 90s on the love bus, with the Stone Roses and Oasis being particularly well received today. 

ISAE Busogo College, Ruhungeri

The roads leading to Ruhungeri are carved around the hills in northern Rwanda and they afforded the most incredible views of distant hills, plantations and valleys as we finally reached today’s college. It was pleasing to see an enthusiastic and passionate game of cricket taking place on the college’s outdoor basketball court among the students as we rolled up, and it took about three seconds for Lee to grab a stray cricket bat and claim the crease as his, taking guard with a knowing smile. Barely a minute into Lee’s entertaining innings, a firm, low drive from his batting partner resulted in a very painful finger injury for James, fielding bravely at short extra cover (actually he was just to the left of the ‘free throw line’). James made a lot of this minor injury, much to the chagrin of his CWB pals, and more importantly he spilled the chance, muttering under his breath and shaking his hand in apparent agony while doing so. His face imploded, and not in a good way. A sigh of disappointment gently drifted from the mouths of the local students, who expected this ‘Britisher’ to snaffle the catch, described by some as an absolute goober.

Today’s activity

When we got down to the business of cricket and HIV/Aids messages, the very affable students (late teenagers upwards) gathered on the football pitch, which was set perfectly on the edge of a stunning valley, and we became very aware of the slow gathering of clouds in the cool air. Our gallant leader Carl gave yet another Churchillian speech on behalf of CWB to the crowd, who listened intently inside the spectators’ stand. The students were receptive to the messages about HIV and Aids prevention (part of our remit in our time here in Rwanda is to provide this guidance), and following the students were divided into groups from which they were given coaching on specific cricket skills: batting, bowling and catching. The far younger (and very cheeky) ankle-biters who were happy just to be in the vicinity of these strange foreigners, were also given the chance to participate when our very own Jules and Lee, together with local coach ‘Big Eric’, delivered some basic fun drills mixing some funky dance moves with agile, diving catches on the far side of the football pitch.

With supremely good timing, the clouds which had been gathering around the local hills finally unleashed their full fury and a downpour struck the playing area just as we finished our skills and games with the students. Providentially, a covered area was close by in the form of the imposing spectators’ stand, and players and coaches alike dived with the coaching equipment to find cover. An informal chat with the very sociable students was followed by our three-hour trip back ‘home’ to Kigali. Before long, however, the love bus came to an unexpected halt and we were greeted to the bizarre experience of a casual ‘cave’ visit…a small but very real cave, close to one the volcanoes that pierce the landscape of northern Rwanda.

Homeward bound, we again stumbled upon the ‘potato pit stop’, to find that their menu had extended to the staple Rwandan carnivore diet of ‘goat brochette’ – chunks of goat meat on a kebab stick in this instance. Having bypassed lunch, the CWB team lapped it up and completed their journey to Kigale well satisfied (even the three veggies among us, who consumed roast spuds yet again).

Ed Williams & William Wordsworth

The final event of the day was the welcome sight of trusty CWB trustee Ed, who had just arrived in Rwanda and who joins the team for the next few days. A few ‘tour updates’ over two or three ‘Mutzig’ beers at the local pizza bar, and Ed was up to speed with all of our adventures.

That keeps our readers up to date, except to confirm that our cultured leader Carl Ferguson is a very big proponent of all things ‘Wordsworth’ – in fact his favourite poem starts ‘I Rwanda’d lonely as a cloud…..’