From Kigali we head west: we catch the bus from the surprisingly calm and well organised bus station on the outskirts of town. Normally we approach bus terminals with a sense of trepidation, marching with directionless purpose, ignoring the touts and hoping we find the right bus. Here, it’s pretty relaxed and we buy a ticket and wait for our bus along with a large crowd. When our bus pulls forward, everyones’ elbows suddenly become very sharp and we have to push our way on to find a seat together. A women is, inexplicably and unhelpfully, cleaning the floor of the bus with a bucket of water and a filthy rag while people clamber over her. We set off through the winding roads and over endless green hills.
Two hours later and our bus breaks down. We all sit for a while and some people get off to walk around and examine the side of the bus; I ask the guy across the aisle and he says the bus has run out of air for the brakes. Great. Another man pops up from the village where we’re waiting; he’s selling grilled corn on the cob and the whole bus shouts at him to bring some, and we hand over some coins. Finally, after more waiting, two smaller buses appear and we all climb on and bounce off. A sweet lady shouts to the corn guy to make sure we get our piece. A loud lady sat a few seats in front cracks a joke with the line “mzungu” in there and the whole bus explodes with laughter; we have no idea what she said but we’re definitely the butt of the joke. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.
We reach Kibuye, the town on the lake and catch a motorbike to a little ecolodge where we’re to stay in a little hut on the hillside overlooking the lake. When we arrive it’s raining but the next morning when we wake up and step out it’s beautiful, the bright sky above, the steep hillsides terraced with smallholdings falling into the water, the green land and the corrugated rooftops shining silver in the morning light. I put my kanga on the grass and do some yoga, hot already in the sun.
We head off on a typical Moz and Skel walk that involves not really knowing where we’re going – so we wander around the little villages, past people working on the roads or in their gardens and greet them in stumbling Kinyarwandan. Kids carrying machetes wave merrily at us and we skirt around headlands, and little girls carrying wood stop and smile nervously until we wave and they wave back.
We walk out along the peninsula, past small fields until it has become too narrow to plant and we’re just walking through scrubland with the water on either side. There are blackberries growing in the bushes and delicate flowers. I carry two small rocks incase I need to throw them at snakes but all we see are beautiful bright little birds, flashes of red and blue ahead of us. We walk for a long way without meeting anyone, unusual for Africa, and it’s makes for a nice change to feel alone for once. At the far end we look out at the islands, the light on the water and the DRC – a hazy line of hills on the far side of the lake.
We only had one more night here before we were planning to travel south to Huye but it was a sweet little stopover. Back at our lodge, the sun went down on a clear night: the stars above us set into a midnight blue and the lake purple and indigo and black.