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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
I move to the very North West corner of Burundi, where it borders both Rwanda and the DRC. It’s extremely quiet, and when I roll into the border station I’m a little shocked.
An extremely new and clean building sits alone, without a single visitor in sight. Inside the Immigration officer stamps me out in thirty seconds, and at the next desk across the Customs guy takes the Temporary Import Permit for the Jeep and says I’m free to go.
The border is actually so quiet, there isn’t even anyone to change money with!
I drive over a little bridge and stop at a small shack, Immigration and Customs for Rwanda. At Immigration I pay $30USD for a one month visa for myself, and then Customs write up a new Temporary Import Permit for the Jeep. It’s good for a month and completely free.
I don’t pay any road tax or similar, so in Rwanda the Jeep is completely free.
I roll away from the border, still stranding the mighty DRC – separated from me by a raging river and a range of impressive mountains. Happily, I’m still driving on the right side of the road – Burundi and Rwanda are the two hold-outs in East Africa chasing to drive on the right. It’s much easier in my left-hand-drive Jeep and roundabouts are not even confusing when going counter clockwise.
I need to change some money, get to an ATM and buy a SIM card for my phone, so I make my way to the city of Cyangugu, still on the border of the DRC. I drop down to the river, and the actual border. Here are a ton of guys changing all kinds of currencies, and I have no trouble swapping the last of my Burundian cash, and some Tanzanian I had forgotten I had stashed away. I chat in French to the guys, who have obviously just walked over from the DRC. I can see across the river to the city of Bukavu – the DRC here is actually very developed, and my GPS even tells me about all the international banks and brands of gas stations over there.
Without a visa, I can not go.
In town in Rwanda I complete all my jobs and then on the advice of a friendly local I find a great restaurant for lunch. I get a heaping assorted plate consisting of rice, beans, potatoes, beef stew, vegetables and more for about a dollar.
Already I sense Rwandans are friendly, vibrant and full of energy. I like it a lot!