Bujumbura, Burundi & If We Should Enter Kenya At All

The next morning we woke up at dawn, and our viewing gallery of locals was standing on the outskirts of our camp watching us – right on time. I kept trying to take pictures of the locals, but Africans are afraid of cameras – we think it’s because they think it takes away a little bit of their souls, so every time I pulled out my camera to take a picture the locals would run away. That’s when Rich and I figured out how to go about getting some great photos of the locals. Rich took is juggling balls and walked away to start tossing them around. The locals’ attention was diverted to Rich’s juggling, so I got out my zoom lens and started taking photos of the locals while they were distracted. It worked like a charm – we’ll have to remember that trick for India.

After breakfast we headed through the mountains down towards the north point of Lake Tanganyika to the city of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. Burundi’s rather modern, with the greatest paved roads going up and down their mountains – a nice change form our hell Tanzanian road. We had nothing better to do than drink Primus all day.

We made a stop in this huge market to take a look and it was so cool. The women here dress in such bright colors – just looking around the market was a spectacle. Hundreds of Burundi women going about their business, but the colors – it was everywhere and brilliant. We left the market and arrived in Bujumbura’s Cercle Nautique campground on the lake shortly after lunch.

Since we were still a little concerned about Kenya Rich, Stefanie and I (the three token Americans) headed over to the embassy to find out what our government was saying about the situation there. We met with a consular officer who told us that U.S. officials have been advised not to go to Kenya, but tourists could still go – for now. The Kenya/Uganda border which is technically closed is letting tourists through, but that’s all. When we asked about Nairobi the officer told us our embassy there was replacing about three passports a day – nice crime rate! He also told us that six people were killed in demonstrations in western Kenya, so their political problems were not getting any better in the lead-up to the election.

We left and wandered around Bujumbura for the day – we still had to hear the result of a call our courier was placing to Kumuka’s head office in Nairobi to see if we would be entering the country. When we got back to the campsite we were told we were going into Kenya and that we’d be leaving the next morning for Zaire. Not too pleased with that decision Rich and I proceeded to make a spirits punch for everyone to partake of before heading to Zaire where no goods or services are available.

Our campsite sat on the northern end of Lake Tanganyika and there are a lot of hippos living in the lake so we were warned to watch out for them coming into the campground at night. After a few glasses of punch Tom, Jim, Stef and I went hippo hunting down near the water. Sure enough, the huge beasts were no farther than one meter from the edge of the campsite climbing out onto the rocks and swimming around just below the barrier. The hippos got bored of us watching them so they slipped into the water and swam off, leaving us to drink more punch and go to bed.

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