It’s early June, 2020. Until yesterday, I had been staying at home since sometime in March. I am probably the only person who didn’t move when movement restrictions were finally eased. This is not what I envisioned on new year’s eve but it is what it is.
After such a long confinement, the urge to go somewhere was stronger than ever. I left the house without an idea of where I was going. My first stop was Engen, Kimironko where I serviced Indakangwa and refilled its tank before hitting the road. Destination unknown.
I found myself in Kibagabaga, and minutes later, I was in Kagugu. From there, I took a right turn and headed to Batsinda and Gasanze. I didn’t stop there. I kept going and ended up in Nyacyonga. The Kigali - Gatuna highway rekindled memories of the good old days. The highway was calling. I answered the call.
After zigzagging along the meandering tarmac for a while, I crossed the signpost erected to welcome travelers to Rulindo District. All along, I never knew Rulindo owns a piece of the Gatuna highway.
Farther ahead, I saw gorilla statues mounted on a six-foot pillar. Since I miss my cousins from the animal kingdom, I stopped and took pictures. The base on which the three statues stand is written "Iyo zibonye amahoro, zikamwa amadevise." This can loosely be translated as follows: "When they have peace, currency is milked from them."
When I was taking pictures, little boys from the local community gathered around me. I told them to stay far away unless they wanted to contract Covid- 19. They backed off immediately. From the distance, I asked one of them to explain to me how is it possible to milk dollars from the gorillas. His answer was long and incoherent but he had an idea of how it works.
There is a river on the other side of the road. Its banks are embellished with stripes of bamboo trees planted in a bid to fight soil erosion. I asked the boy who answered my first question to tell me why the river was sandwiched by bamboo trees. This time, I thought his answer was on point. However, his friends differed with him. According to them, the trees were just there — simple. They just happened to be there. "Trees grow whenever trees want to grow." They told me.
I was bringing complications to their simple lives. There is nothing abnormal about trees flourishing near the river. My question didn’t make sense to them. It was a stupid question anyway.
I wanted to know the name of the river we were talking about. One of the boys told me the river’s name is Kagera. "Are you sure this is Kagera River?" I asked him. His answer was a sound yes. Well, that wasn’t the Kagera I know but who am I to argue with someone who swims there everyday?
I left the area and proceeded to a village known as Chamutara. Then I took another right turn and pursued an off-road trail to Kingfish Beach Hotel located on the western tip of Lake Muhazi. The hotel reopened about a month ago when the lockdown was partially lifted.
Upon arrival, I sat down and placed my order. Kingfish looked different without the magnitude of Kigali revelers who used to flock the facility before the pandemic. The beach volleyball court looked deserted and the swimming pool looked abandoned. I loved the serenity but I was worried about the economy.