I got up at 7am today before having a nice breakfast of cereal, eggs and toast and catching up on writing this journal. We all met by the truck at 9am to see some pygmies when a matatu minibus arrived with two guides in to take us there. The matatu now overtakes an American school bus to become the most uncomfortable mode of transport I have ever had inflicted on me as I managed to get cramp, lose all circulation in one of my legs and break my belt somehow – this is Africa.
When we arrived at the town we weren’t convinced the people were really pygmies. Yes it’s true some of them were smaller than average but I’m quite tall and some of them were as tall as me. Our guide explained this is due to mixing with the local population which is quite sad but explains our concerns.
We were taken to the centre of the village where they put on a song and dance show for us and some of the group got pulled up to dance too including Pete, Sue Ellen, Leon and unfortunately me too. I think Pete got some photos of me which I’ll have to hijack at some point. It was a fairly good experience.
After the end of the show we were taken on the tour of the village and could tell something was wrong. A lady who seemed to be one of the village elders was arguing in Kinyarwanda with the guide but he was making excuses saying she was just getting emotional to see us but we could tell he wasn’t telling us the truth. The village in general didn’t seem happy with us so we decided it was a good idea to leave asap and get back to Fatima’s. Jono decided he was going to go back up in the truck later with somebody he could trust to translate for us to see what was going on.
After getting back to Fatima’s we talked about the situation before having a quick lunch and heading into town to go shopping. After dodging a few begging kids we found a craft shop and I did a lot of shopping here. There was nothing stereotypically touristy in town at all but maybe this is a good thing as it made sure we bought traditional goods made from wood and banana leaves and not mass-produced t-shirts or key rings.
We found a clothing market and looked around but didn’t find anything so walked back to Fatima’s the long way round to see more of the town. We saw Oscar the truck leaving the compound to visit the pygmy village and after arriving back myself, Leon, Cass, trip and Pete chatted for a while in another surreal situation with eagles and vultures circling overhead before another big overland truck arrived. We definitely arrived in time and not only got the best location but a guaranteed use of the private rooms.
A while later Oscar got back with everybody that had been to visit the village to find out what went on earlier. They went to the village but it was almost empty so they were directed up the hill to the next village where everybody had gone. They managed to find the leader and, through a translator, found out that out of the $65 they were promised for the show they were given $20 which they were understandably upset about. We told them we would try to make better arrangements in future and would talk to Greg the go-to guy tonight to make sure they got paid in full. We’re not sure who pocketed the money Greg or the guide but something dodgy had been going on.
Later that day we walked into town to go to Greg’s house which was right behind the clothes market we found earlier. We all sat on mats on the grass for another traditional African meal and a talk by Francis about the history of Rwanda and the experiences in the local area during the Genocide. During this talk Jono took Greg aside to talk to him and negotiated our price down to $15 from $20 each and he also made him promise to give the village everything they deserved. I believe him when he said that as he would be stupid to do the same thing twice after being found out but then again this is Africa.
We walked back to Fatima’s through town with people whispering Mzungu from the shadows again. I guess they’re not used to white guys walking through the town at night but it was nice to see another side of Rwanda. After getting back I talked to Al for a bit before showering and heading to my room. No soft porn sounds coming from the reception today so hopefully I’ll get a good nights sleep!