Lawrence of Kigali(a)

by Jon Walmsley (aka J-Dubz)

My first new friend in Rwanda is Lawrence and we met on the bus from Kigali to Karongi, on the shores of Lake Kivu. With so much cricket kit donated, the team minibus was full so four of us adventured on public transport.

‘Do we know when a bus is scheduled?’ I naively thought. But as we reached the organised chaos of Kigali’s equivalent of Victoria Coach station, it was clear that such concerns were largely irrelevant. Imagine a thousand people looking for a bus and another thousand trying to sell their particular ride, and you get the idea. Tall Eric, the CWB Ambassador in Kigali, quickly sorted us out for tickets – flung through the window as we drove off – and we were on our way.

It was certainly cozy and a great way to meet new people which brings me back to Lawrence, who looked (stared) at us with great fascination. Without any formal language in common, but with a bit of help from others, we established that he considered me (54) as the same age as him (66) and Jo (<30) as probably my sister. All very flattering for me, and the basis of a firm comradeship.

When we came to his stop he invited us to meet his family – but Lee was having none of it. ‘We’re here to coach’ he said firmly as we said our goodbyes. Lawrence said we were very welcome to his country, and it was a great start to the tour.

The team bus arrived at the Bethanie Hotel only minutes ahead having been forced to stop when the spare wheel cradle suddenly decided to unhinge itself. Even with Ryan lying on his back bench pressing the rear of the bus didn’t quite fix it, however All was not lost. Stephen, our driver for the day, removed his crucifix from the rear window and used the string to secure the cradle – Divine engineering. Rounding off the day spotting cormorants over the lake, a Rwandan buffet sent us to bed replete.

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