Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Kigali Evening

I arrived in Rwanda via Ethiopia in the begininng of May 2007. I was sent by Kempinski hotels to assist in the takeover of two properties, and was excited to further my travels in Africa. We landed in the early afternoon and I was met at the airport by the General Manager and an Indian accountant from our hotel in Jordan who would become a close friend in the months to come. But I wasn't thinking about friends that night. I was thinking about Rwanda.

More than 800,000 deaths following the coup 13 years before had left a blood stained countryside and a global emotional stain on the inaction of powerful nations watching the massacre from afar. We jumped into a rented 4x4 and began the drive up to our hotel sitting on a hill overlooking the city. We were staying at the Hotel Mille Collines, or as the rest of the world knew it, Hotel Rwanda. There are many emotions I experienced being in the presence of this hotel, but it wasn't Rwanda's past that most moved me.

After a wonderful dinner at the French restaurant on the top floor, I took off to the pool and sat down with a pack of smokes and a couple Mutzig beers. Overlooking the lights of the city, I came to a revelation. I was about to experience a nation, people, and adventures that were beyond my emotional stretch. It was an exciting feeling, but I stopped by the hotel boutique and picked up a history of the genocide. I felt like I needed to prepare myself. The worst thing to do would be to experience Rwanda's future without knowledge of its past.


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