If and when you hear me refer to “Paradise”, know that I mean nowhere else but Gisenyi, near Lake Kivu. I’m not exactly sure if the more biblical “paradise” exists yet so we’ll stick to what I know. I was born in Gisenyi, though for most of life, I claimed Ruhengeri as my place of birth. It’s the one place that I remembered clearly as a child and I have nothing but pleasant memories of my time there. I must have thought my parents were lying when they told me I was born in a hospital not too far away from Lake Kivu.
My mother is from Ruhengeri and my father is from Gitarama but I’ve always had a closer relationship with my mother’s side of the family and for me, Ruhengeri was “home”. I remember running around with some of my aunts and uncles who were close to me in age and also sharing large plates of “imvange” (a casserole of potatoes, grean peas or beans and palm oil) and feeling life couldn’t get any better. That is a story for another day however and this post is about Paradise a.k.a. Gisenyi.
I visited Gisenyi for the first time in 17 years back in 2011 though I was in a rush and didn’t get a chance to explore the place. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I had the chance to return and I have to say that I’ve fallen completely in love with it and the energy of the place. I stayed at Paradise Malahide, a guesthouse and restaurant bordering lake Kivu (literally) and about 15 minutes outside of the center of town and I had no desire to return to Kigali when it was time. I’ve since made a vow to always return whenever I can and I will be doing so in a couple of weeks
All I can say right now is that I may never own a house in the United States or anywhere else in the world but I WILL definitely build or buy one right alongside the Lake Kivu. Why? I took some pictures so you can see for yourself (see below).