The missionary invited me to stay with them, to my immense relief, because finding a safe place to spend the night in Bujumbura would have been quite an ordeal and especially that late in the day. Traffic was chaos, there are no road signs or rules in the capital and everybody just drives as they please. Motorcycles are obliged to stay on the side of the road and simply pushed out if it enters a lane. Following behind the missionary to their home I managed to survive the trip.
I still needed to take out Comesa Yellow Card Insurance, valid for all of Africa and a much more affordable option than taking out insurance in every country, which I couldn’t do in South Africa and was unable to do in Lusaka because it had been a Sunday. I would only be to do so after 11h00 on Saturday, since only emergency vehicles are permitted on the road from 07h00 to 11h00 and the rest of the capital’s population clean and attend to the area around their home or business, kind of doing charity work for the city’s roads. Thus the missionary and I set off after 11h00 and it was immediately clear that he had been living in Bujumbura a while, he drove just like them (I just shut my eyes at times). I finally took out the insurance and couldn’t wait to get back on the road again. The missionary invited me to stay another night, but it was only 13h30 and since Burundi is such a small country, I would make it to the border before nightfall or so I thought. After taking the missionary’s son on a quick bike ride, upon his request, and a bite to eat, I was on my way again.
Fortunately, the missionary’s home was on the outskirts of the city and traffic was quite light. The main road to Rwanda is tree-lined and picturesque, but also really narrow and every bend in the road has to be negotiated carefully, because drivers tend to cut corners there. I just needed to make it to the border post before nightfall, even if it was closed and I had to sleep on the porch in front of the customs office, because that road didn’t offer up any overnight accommodation and it was not a country where I wanted to camp alone in the bush. An hour on the road and I once again encountered the driving skills of Burundi locals. Trucks simply pass each other on steep inclines and oncoming traffic just has to make room. Inevitably one truck didn’t quite make it and crashed head on into another, forcing the road to be closed to clear up the wreckage strewn all over. Two hours later I managed to move on, realising that darkness would catch up with me in this land of chaos. Just before dusk I arrived in the small town of Ngozi and that is where the road suddenly ended, the GPS had led me the wrong way. Fortunately, the town had a hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel had been commandeered by the President and other higher ups during the election, I was told by soldiers storming toward me with guns from the black cars parked in front, and told to leave.
The town only had one hotel. I stopped a little further on in the town and just sat on my bike weighing my options. I would simply have to go plonk myself down against the wall of the filling station until morning and try to get some sleep, because in this country you just don’t ride in the dark. I sent up a prayer to the heavenly Father for help and as I was sitting there, wondering what to do, a man approached and offered to help. Upon hearing of my plight, he immediately got on the back of my bike and told me that he knew of a place I could stay. Off we headed into the lower part of town, with me all the while wondering if I was about to be robbed or even hurt somewhere. How little faith we sometimes have, five minutes ago I prayed for help and now these thoughts are tumbling around in my head. We stopped in front of a steel door, where the young man told me to wait. A smaller steel door opened in the main one and a guard allowed the young man in. Ten minutes later, while I was still sitting there speculating about what’s behind the steel door, it opened and the young man emerged. He told me this was his church, a catholic abbey, and the priest agreed to take me in for the night. I thank him for his assistance and also the heavenly Father. I not only had a large room to myself, but they even served me dinner and breakfast the next morning. It was a Sunday and I so wished I spoke the language that I may join them at church. I thanked the priest and nuns for their hospitality and set off on the 45km to the main road. I arrived nice and early at the border post and fortunately going out was much faster than going in. The Rwanda side went just as smoothly and I entered the country without a hitch.