How to get prepared for a trip to Rwanda?

When Benita asked me to join her on her trip to Rwanda I did not utterly feel intrigued at first. I had not the foggiest what was in stock for me down there, not to mention the piles of work still to be done here at the office. After some days’ time to reflect, however, I happily agreed to join in.

Alessandra managed to book me a flight on the plane Benita was going to take. She was a helping hand, checking out all the tiny little details to be considered and things to be done before an intercontinental trip like this: Going to Rwanda? You will need visas, folks! But, mind you, you only get your visa with a vaccination certificate on yellow fever.

So off we were to a tropical doctor. Three vaccinations. Then to the drugstore for all medicines requested. Start pre-trip malaria prophylaxis. And, oh, anti-mosquito spray, of course. Passports, vaccination record, Deirdre’s invitation and some other documents straightly went to the Rwandan Consulate.

I will accompany Benita with my photo and video equipment. Notebook. iPhone. Heaps of wires and chargers for all these gadgets. And one question arising on this: Which socket type do they have down there? Wikipedia knows the answer: "Socket type J is used in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Turkey and Rwanda." Great, that comes in handy!

Goodness gracious ... money ... What currency do they have in Rwanda? Which means of payment will be accepted? I decide to take the easy way out and ask our main bank UBS. After a complete week’s time, they tell me to browse the Web and check things myself. I consult an acquaintance of mine, a banker working at Credit Suisse, and he takes care of my needs quickly and very professionally. The currency are Rwandan Francs, and we will be allowed to import 5,000 of them. Which actually amounts to about six Euros. Anyway, now I know which credit cards are accepted in Rwanda and that in Kigali most likely you can also pay in US Dollars.

Genocide. A word making each and everyone think of Rwanda immediately. Entering "genocide" into Google, the search engine suggests me "genocide Rwanda". I press Enter and read what Wikipedia has to say. Which leaves me speechless, and sad. I cannot believe what I am reading, it brings me close to tears. There are simply no words for it. Memories of television images, back in 1994, are surging. According to Wikipedia’s record, everything I recall as having been reported these days only was the tip of the iceberg, it seems. I won’t go into detail here. May those who want to know in detail read themselves. I for one cannot think of anything more cruel and horrible having happened ever since I was born.

Having read all this, it seems I am well-prepared. Well, it seems ...

FM Gmür

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