Buja, Buja

On October 25th, I began my weekend trip to  Bujumbura, Burundi not by choice but largely because I had to. With my 3-month visa nearing expiration, I had to leave the country (Rwanda) so that I could then come back and extend my visa for another 3 months. When I arrived in Rwanda in August, the plan was to apply for a one year work visa but I was missing one document at the time of my application and was only able to get a temporary visitor visa. Fast forward to October and with my missing document still in "progress", I knew that there would be a time when I'd have to leave the country for a bit and come back to reapply. However, I made one huge mistake when I crossed into Burundi- I had forgotten to check on the visa requirements for Americans arriving in Burundi and was unaware of the entrance fee for a 3-day visa. So what happened? My bus left me behind and with no ATM machine in sight in order to withdraw the needed cash and without enough Rwandan currency on me to exchange it for dollars (hate traveling with money because it's easier to lose so I prefer cards) so that I could pay for my Burundi visa, I was forced to go back the way I came. Until then, my American passport had spoiled me. I had never had to pay for an entrance visa before. Certainly not when I traveled to the U.K., Croatia or Bosnia only two years before. You travel and you learn. Having crossed back into Rwanda and searching desperately for a ride back towards Butare where I could spend the night and try again in the morning, I finally found a seat on a bus and off I went. You travel and you learn.
On October 25th, I began my weekend trip to Bujumbura, Burundi not by choice but largely because of visa requirements. With my 3-month visa nearing expiration, I had to leave the country (Rwanda) so that I could then come back and extend my visa for another 3 months. When I arrived in Rwanda in August, the plan was to apply for a one year work visa but I was missing one document at the time of my application and was only able to get a temporary visitor visa. Fast forward to October and with my missing document still in “progress”, I knew that there would be a time when I’d have to leave the country for a bit and come back to reapply. However, I made one huge mistake when I crossed into Burundi- I had forgotten to check on the visa requirements for Americans arriving in Burundi and was unaware of the entrance fee for a 3-day visa. One of my finer moments. So what happened?  With no ATM machine in sight in order to withdraw the needed cash and without enough Rwandan currency on me to exchange it for dollars (hate traveling with money because it’s easier to lose so I prefer cards), my bus left me behind and I was forced to go back the way I came. However, there was no way I was going to return to Kigali without my passport stamp so I decided to head to Butare and try again the next day.  It was too late to book a seat on another bus heading to Bujumbura so I had no option but to stay in Huye. Until then, my American passport had spoiled me. I had never had to pay for an entrance visa before. Certainly not when I traveled to the U.K., Croatia or Bosnia only two years before. You travel and you learn. Having crossed back into Rwanda, I finally found a seat on a bus and off I went to Huye. You travel and you learn. The good thing is, I’m now well acquainted with the Rwandan and Burundian immigration officers on both sides of the border so let me know if you ever need a favor (kidding).
My Hotel Room at Hotel Ibis in Huye, Butare. Not bad.
My room at Hotel Ibis in Huye, Butare. Not bad and under $30 bucks for the night.
My first solo meal in Huye: fish brochette and chips as they call it here. Had been to Huye twice before and with a group so never ate alone. Gave me time to catch up on Mad Men.
My first solo meal in Huye: fish brochette and chips as they call it here. Had been to Huye twice before with a group so never ate alone but there’s a first time for everything. Gave me time to catch up on Mad Men.
My little bungalow. If you're ever in Huye, check out Hotel Ibis. It's nice, clean, quiet and there's a wifi. A nice getaway from busy Kigali.
My little bungalow. If you’re ever in Huye, check out Hotel Ibis. It’s nice, clean, quiet and there’s a nice restaurant to boot. A nice getaway from busy Kigali.
The side view.
The side view.
Hotel Ibis.
Hotel Ibis.
Finally made it across the border to Burundi. If you fail once, try again. Mission accomplished.
Finally made it across the border to Burundi. If you fail once, try again. Mission accomplished.
I love fish and chips and Amstel obviously.  My first and only meal in Bujumbura.
I love fish and chips and Amstel obviously. My first and only meal in Bujumbura.
View from my hotel in Bujumbura. What you don't see is how hot it was, even at 7 in the morning.
View from my hotel in Bujumbura. What you don’t see is how hot it was, even at 7 in the morning.

I woke up to this around 6 am, had no idea what was going on and was too spooked to go back to sleep.
I woke up to this around 6 am, had no idea what was going on and was too spooked to go back to sleep.

buja 14

Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika.
I hope to see more of this place the next time around.
Finally made it. I didn't get to see any hippos or crocodiles so I will be trying again.
Finally made it. I didn’t get to see any hippos or crocodiles so I will be trying again.

buja 17 buja 18

One day, I too will pick up fishing as a hobby.
One day, I too will pick up fishing as a hobby.
Back to Rwanda. In conclusion, I've never worked so hard for a passport stamp. Until next time.
Back to Rwanda. In conclusion, I’ve never worked so hard for a passport stamp. Until next time.
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9 Replies to “Buja, Buja”

  1. you already know I find you inspirational. I read this and my conclusion is “Omg. I need to just travel. stop with this job/school/life is holding me back lies I tell myself because I’m too afraid to just book a flight. Nicely done.

    1. Nina! Please please please take the plunge and go for it and invite me on a trip! I know you’ll do it one day and soon and I hope you share your stories with me. Now, let’s actually hang out in real!? 🙂

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