Prologue – Welcome to Rwanda

James’ Rwanda Impact Tour Journal
Water for People Impact Tour Rwanda 2019
James Hoyt, P.E.



Arrival

Despite some last-minute flight drama, Jenna and I arrived in Rwanda Friday night (September 6). After a brief, but exhilarating drive dodging motorbikes, we arrived at the Hotel Chez Lando. We were welcomed by our Water for People trip coordinators, met a few fellow tour participants, and enjoyed our first African beer.

Stepping into my room, a mosquito net canopy on the bed reminded me that we were not at home. Exhausted from 24 hours of travel, I went to bed excited for the adventure about to begin.

Exploring Kigali

Saturday we teamed up with our new Water for People friends to explore Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. The day got off to a perfect start, with a perfect cup of coffee. Question Coffee is powered by Rwandan Women Farmers and supplied by sustainable growers. Each drink is expertly and meticulously hand-crafted. Jenna and I formed “Coffee Club”, a group of individuals who got up an hour early to make the daily pilgrimage.

coffee beans at question coffee

Sufficiently caffeinated, we donned a shiny red helmet and hopped on the back of a motorbike, which serves as the most common taxi option in Kigali. We were dropped off at the Inema Art Center, which features local artists. The artwork featured bright, bold colors and the beauty and originality of the art was a clear reflection of Rwanda itself.

Our adventure wrapped up with a visit to a local market and milk bar. Against the advice of wiser people, three brave (perhaps foolish?) souls found a local milk bar where a traditional unpasteurized, fermented milk drink is served. Prior to the trip, I reluctantly promised friends and loved ones that I would not eat street-meat; however, I never agreed to avoid questionable dairy products. The milk was thick and creamy. The taste reminded me of unsweetened Greek yogurt. It was a fun experience, but moving forward I think I’ll stick to coffee.

Meeting the WFP Team

The day ended with a team dinner where we got to meet the rest of the group who would be joining us on the Water for People Impact Tour. Dinner featured traditional Rwandan dishes. I tried Akabenz (the Mercedes Benz of pork)  and beef brochettes (bbq skewers). Jenna ordered the “I Gisafuriya” a traditional stew of chicken, potato, banana  and another vegetables served in a large pot meant to be shared by a family. Jenna was kind enough to share and it was delicious! The food was all great and no one left hungry. 

Overall, it was a real pleasure to meet the passionate group who traveled halfway across the world with the common goal of water for everyone, forever. Welcome to Rwanda!