June 26, 2010
Finally checked in, we headed to the departure gates and grabbed a quick drink and bought some Mars Bars as snacks for our trekking in a vain attempt to use up our final Tanzanian shillings, an attempt which proved unsuccessful as there was not a single thing else we wanted to buy!
We had been chatting to a couple from America in our hotel in Zanzibar and they had warned us that Ethiopian Airlines, our carrier of choice for this journey, hardly ever ran on time. It was no surprise then that the first leg of our journey today didn’t run on time, either. The flight from Dar to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia didn’t start boarding until the projected departure time and it was another 45 minutes before we finally left the ground. The American couple had failed to warn us about the rude airline staff though. I immediately fell asleep on board the plane, like many others, but before long I was rudely awoken by the stewardess shouting at me to give me food. It was before 6am and I’d not slept all night. I didn’t want bloody food but I didn’t have a choice. I got off lightly though – the guy opposite us and the couple behind us were both shaken to be woken up. I mean, physically shaken from their slumbers! As I was awake and hadn’t eaten since yesterday lunchtime I decided to eat my average, bland omelette and as Elizabeth didn’t want hers I ended up having two! Thankfully, the stupid shouty, shaky lady left us alone to sleep after that!
Arriving in Addis Ababa was really easy. We’ve had some stopovers where the country you arrive in has made it really difficult in the process to transfer to get through. Egypt was a pain and Australia was even worse, although we were flying with different airlines so had to collect baggage and check in again. The airport was nice and new and relatively comfortable although my attempt to change our Tanzanian money was again useless.
The late take-off of our first flight didn’t matter too much as we had a 3 hour layover in Addis Ababa which was just enough time for a group of Koreans to be very annoying. The flight to Kigali boarded just about on time but after an hour sat twiddling our thumbs on the tarmac, waiting for a re-fueling truck, we finally started taxiing out. We had nothing to do in Kigali when we got there so we weren’t in any kind of rush which was a bit of luck as neither were Ethiopian Airlines!
The flight to Kigali was smooth and we soon landed in Rwanda. The country looked really green and lush from the air and so it appeared when we finally had our luggage and took a taxi to our hotel. We were staying at a hotel which supported a charitable organisation here so we weren’t expecting a great deal. However, our low expectations weren’t even met as we were taken to a large room with just a bed in it, a bed which was one of the least comfortable we’ve encountered anywhere, windows that wouldn’t shut properly, a shower that barely worked and a toilet that wouldn’t flush. In Thailand I’d have expected to pay about $5 for something like this but here they were charging $50 per night! We quickly decided that when we return to Kigali after our trek we’ll seek somewhere better to stay!
Our “joy” with the hostel was compounded when we ventured to their restaurant for dinner. It had been highly recommended by Lonely Planet (as had the hotel, incidentally) but there must’ve been quite a change since they bothered to review it. The menu was really limited and we ended up waiting over an hour for two plates of chips and a beef skewer. This wasn’t helped by the lack of helpfulness from the staff at the hotel who clearly didn’t seem to give a damn. With an early start tomorrow, we headed straight to bed after that debacle and enjoyed the comfort of our bed and the plastic covered mattress! No accidents here!