|It's OK, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.|
Mom won't like this one.
"Be safe over there," she told me before I left home.
Naturally, I decided to rent a motorcycle and ride the dirt roads over the Rwandan mountains.
The iconic Guerrillero Heroico adorns the windshields of many cars and motorcycles in Rwanda, so perhaps my inspiration to zigzag the deeps ruts and jagged rocks came from a bit of subliminal messaging. That, and the fact that tourism here mostly caters to those whom Che Guevara would have despised.
|Hey, I can see my house from up|
here! No, the one in America.
One day I was told that I can rent one of the motorcycle taxis for just around six dollars per day. Riding trails on four-wheelers and dirtbikes was always one of my favorite passtimes in the US, and I also wanted to see more of this beautiful country and discover on my own.
My assistant, Irene, called up a driver and off I went.
Wanting to get the feel of the bike and make sure everything worked correctly, I decided to take the safer, paved road from Gasarenda to Huye before trusting myself to attempt the windy and rocky dirt roads that careen through the mountains and lack guard rails.
OK, not really. It was Saturday and I wanted to watch college football.
The instant I set off on my journey, mother came to punish me. By mother, I mean Mother Nature of course. It rained the entire one-hour drive to Huye and quit right when I arrived.
"Why didn't you just turn around?" one of my friends asked me.
|Good news: the speedometer works.|
Bad news: it's not in Freedom Units.
Being soaked from head to toe an hour away from home and without a change of clothes, I had to think of a way to dry myself once the game was over.
"Oh that's right!" I said to myself. "I have a motorcycle!"
I paid to have the motorcycle for two days and wanted to get the most out of my money. My plan was to take any dirt road that I saw and just drive until I felt like turning around. Google Maps would save me if I got lost. My plans never go wrong.
|On the bright side, road work doesn't last anywhere near as long.|
When a reached a small village called Musebeya, I stopped for a drink before turning around. An ice-cold Coke would have been nice, but the lack of refrigerators in Rwanda don't allow for that. It's even ingrained in their culture; you have to specify that you want your drink to be cold when ordering at a restaurant or bar, as Rwandans prefer their drinks warm, even their beer.
|If they had a gas station, they could do away with the tithe.|
Speaking of bleakness and reminiscence, my travels on the bike bring me back to Che Guevara once again. Much like the events chronicled in The Motorcycle Diaries, I experienced a much larger disparity of wealth than I've gotten used to. Children around Gasarenda are poor, but when you venture further away from the main road, there's a difference that almost can't be described in words.
I've seen many houses made from mud and logs. Kids carrying jerrycans filled with water pass by me on a daily basis while their parents work their hands to the bone in the fields. Further out, I could use the same words to describe the situation, but it's somehow worse.
|This is a waterfall. I named it Carlos.|
That's not to say that Rwanda isn't making strides. There's income inequality now, but Rwanda's upper class has only relatively recently emerged. Rwandans are very optimistic towards their future, and there are many NGOs that work to lift these people up. Also, the Kagame government seems to genuinely care about its less fortunate.
It's safe to say that I won't be replicating Che Guevara's subsequent journey.