We arrived in Kigali international late in the evening and went straight to bed for to get some rest. Kigali is a pleasant surprise, unlike other African capitals. Hilly, beautiful and clean. There are pedestrian sidewalks everywhere and tarmac on almost all roads. It seems like Rwanda is the way for Africa to move forward.

We left early the next day, destination Goma, a three hour drive along beautiful, hilly countryside. Green is the dominant color in Rwanda. The road is narrow and curves among the hills, but there are no trucks and the tarmac is in very good condition, making the ride smooth and safe. Three hours later we arrived at the border town of Gisenyi, on Kivu lake.

Rwandan Hills
The hilly landscape of Rwanda
Rwandan Village
A young kid outside his house in a village in Rwanda.
Rwandan Girl
A beautiful girl in a Rwandan village.

 

The busy transborder post is occupied by different people, including a healthy number of call girls that offer cross-border services to international organization ex-pats. It does not take long to clear formalities and enter in a different world. Goma is just 5 minutes walking from Gisenyi but worlds and decades apart. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the poorest nations in the world, effectively a failed state, sitting on top of 24 trillion dollars of mineral reserves. Goma, has a population of about 1 million, a handful of paved roads and no foreseeable future.

Resting
Men resting by the sea, naxt to the port of Goma, on Kivu lake.
Blue
A kid sitting in the streets of Goma.
Sunday in Goma
A bunch of women cooking and selling food in the streets of Goma.
Goma Girl
A girl in the city of Goma dressed in her Sunday outfit.
Shoes and Tooh Paste
Selling shoes and toiletteries on Sunday in Goma.
Life in Goma
Sunday afternoon in Goma.

 

It was Sunday afternoon so most of the people were out, wearing their Sunday clothes and spending time on the streets, which is what they mostly do anyways. The roads are covered with a mix of dirt and lava that flowed in after the catastrophic explosion of mount Nyiragongo in 2002, destroying 40% of the city. A bad ambience, a mix of poverty, muddy waters and insecurity is spread across town.

Dressed Up
Congolese walking on the promenade, in one of the main streets in Goma, on Sunday afternoon.
Goma Street
A man on a sidewalk in one of the main streets in Goma
Family in Goma
A family in the poor neighborhood at the port of Goma.
Goma House
A house at the port of Goma.
Super
A shop in the port of Goma, closed for Sunday.
Life in Goma
Families in thir Sunday clothes, in the poor neighborhood overlooking the port of Goma.

 

Goma suffered a refugee influx during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the subsequent cholera outbreak and humanitarian crisis, the first and second Congo wars in the late 90s and the eruption of Nyiragongo. Ever since being in the center of a conflict zone – as late as in 2012 it was captured by the M23 rebels and then retaken by government forces – it has a very long way to cover to offer the basics to its citizens.

Airtel Money
A colorful mobile company outlet in the city of Goma.
Orange Lady
A congolese lady carrying loafs of bread in Goma.
MONUSCO
A kid stiing in front of the entrance of the United Nations Organization Stablilization Mission in Goma.
Get Inside
A man pushing his woman to get inside the door of a stroe in Goma.
Playing
A young guy pushing his toy-weel in Goma.
Salon de Coiffure
The entrance of a hair salon in Goma.
Motorcycle Taxi
A motorcycle taxi in Goma.

 

The lack of financial resources has helped the chukudu to reign among utility vehicles. The chukudu is two-wheeled wooden vehicle for freight transportation. It costs $50-100 and can earn up to $10 in an area where most people live with $2 per day. The driver has to push it uphill and free-ride it downhill, not an easy task when fully loaded.

Yellow Raincoat
A man and his chukudu, under the morning rain in Goma.
Chukudu
A Congolese man and his fully loaded chukudu in Goma, close to the port.
Heavy Load
Two men struggling with the overloaded chukudu in the outskirts of Goma.
Goma Riders
Two men on their chukudus in Goma.
Streets of Goma
A guy pushing a chukudu in the streets of Goma on Sunday afternoon.
Chukudu
A man pushing a loaded chukudu in Goma.
Tin Scrap
Carrying tin scrap with a chukudu in Goma.
Just Sitting
A young guy resting on his chukudu in Goma.
Csukudu
A man pushing his chukudu, on a Sunday afternoon in the city of Goma.
Pushing Hard
A man pushing his chukudu uphill on a typical road in Goma.

 

The city infrastructure is in such bad condition that even a moderate rainfall transforms it to the Venice of Africa. Navigating through mud holes wearing your best dress and shoes is part of the everyday life in Goma.

City Lake
This what Goma looks like after a moderate rainfall.

 

In sharp contrast to the surroundings, Lac Kivu Lodge was surprisingly luxurious, with well trained staff, wonderful rooms and great views on the lake.

Next: Mountain Gorillas

Goma

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