First look: Kigali, Rwanda

Muraho!  We have been in Rwanda 25 days today.

Our new home, as we expected, is beautiful. The garden is filled with wonderful plants and mature flowering shrubs that are familiar to me from previous posts in Africa and Latin America, although I have forgotten a lot of their names.  Some time on the internet should help with that.

The beautiful shrubs are filled with a variety of birds.  Unfortunately, some of them seem to live in the time zone we left behind.  We have the birds that sing at 2 a.m., those that sing at 3 a.m., 4 a.m. and so forth.  Ending with the ones who tap insistently on our bedroom window for several minutes every morning at 6.

The lower front garden.

Kigali has changed so much since we lived here 10 years ago.  It’s much bigger, but it’s also more attractive.  Many more roads are paved; the potholes are mostly gone.  Amazingly, there are sidewalks almost everywhere.  The many new office buildings and homes now also landscape the areas outside their walls along the streets, and it is rare to see a bit of trash.

Beyond the prettier facade, the general atmosphere seems far brighter and more optimistic than when we last arrived — time has naturally played its part (it’s 17 years since the genocide, not 7), but also the results of 10 years of good governmental management are tangible and impressive.  The levels of crime and corruption are rated pretty low and basic health care is becoming more available to all.

An azalea bush seems to have followed me from the mid-Atlantic. (I can’t remember if there are varieties native to Africa.)

The city is now implementing an ambitious urban master plan, which will be very interesting to observe over the next few years.  And in December, a remarkable public library will open — possibly the largest in East Africa and the culmination of work initiated by Kigali’s Rotary Club about 11 years ago.

Hugely better now (the proof is that you’re reading this) is the commercial internet service, which was generally lousy 10 years ago — I would  not have had the patience to upload blog pictures then.  Now, our home service is not far behind that we had in Washington.

This was always a nice place to garden since the weather is so mild and the (two) dry seasons are relatively short.  But before, there were no plant nurseries in Kigali (that I ever discovered anyway).  Now I’m told there are a few really good ones, so I’m looking forward to the paperwork on our car purchase going through so I can go out shopping and exploring.

I’ll be sharing more photos soon.

This gorgeous thing is placed beside the driveway. I wish I could move it to somewhere more prominent, but I don’t want to risk it. Does anyone know its name?
I love this too. I remember it from other gardens, but I also need to find its name.
The view (looking west) from the front terrace.

13 thoughts on “First look: Kigali, Rwanda

  1. Awesome!! Thanks so much for the photos. It’s nice to see you back online and blogging!:)

    I think that plant with the long red flowers is a Chenille plant….it was one Maria saw long ago and was amazed that there was a plant that looked like her favorite play thing!:)
    xo

  2. Beautiful pictures and amazing story. On another note, I doubt you can judge the performance of Rwanda based exclusively on Kigali. There are talks of a fast rising inequality which automatically simmers ethnic/political tensions. Good luck in our beautiful country!

    1. We do have some tall birds of paradise, but unfortunately their leaves got absolutely shredded the other day in a hailstorm, so they look a bit ragged. But I noticed today that some blooms are emerging.

  3. I miss those adorable Love-in-a-Puff plants you had at your Kigali home 10-years ago. So beautiful.
    I’d love to hear more from you about how Kigali has changed.

  4. Cindy, congratulations for your first post from Rwanda! Your new place looks spectacular by I knwo ti tkes tme to adapt to a new situation, more to a new garden. I can help you with the “palm tree” in one of the images, it is a cica revoluta, I had one for some years in the South of Spain and it was very tough I moved it from original site to a better position in the garden and did not suffer, but it was smaller when I did it. I have seen many in Mallorca this summer, they an grow inmensely. This a link to wikipedia for more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycas_revoluta.

    1. Dear all,
      Thanks so much for your comments and for the plant IDs. (Sarah, it’s so good to hear from you! I am going to order some Love in a Puff seeds so they can grow up through the rosebushes.)

      I am going to post something new soon. We got very social last month, and I’m also missing working on our Mac, which is sitting in a crate in Antwerp at the moment.
      Take care, Cindy

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