Hi Everyone and greetings from Kigali, Rwanda! The long trip out was totally worth it, Rwanda is amazingly beautiful and although we haven’t met too many people yet, those who we have are kind beyond belief.
So let’s start at the beginning. As you all know we’re not only here to race bikes, we’re also providing tons of diabetes supplies to the Rwandan people. I did my part and gathered as many meters and strips as possible and stored them in my huge bike bag a.k.a. diabetes supply bag.
Alex Bowden and I set off from San Diego early on Tuesday, November 16th. Our trip entailed 3 flights, San Diego –> Minneapolis –> Amsterdam –> Rwanda.
We joined most of the team in Amsterdam for our connecting flight to Rwanda. After a few strong coffees we were set for the next ~8 hour flight. Thankfully I slept on this flight but Mandy and Lauren took advantage of the time to interview some of our fellow passengers and they will share in a forthcoming blog!
RWANDA! We arrived at around 7pm on Wednesday the 16th and were met by Francois and his team from the Rwandan Diabetes Association. After collecting copious amounts of luggage we packed in 2 shuttles and a truck and headed off to our hotel for the night to get much needed sleep (at least for me – I’m not that great at sleeping on planes!)
Waking up the next day in Rwanda was extremely exciting. Since we got there at night you couldn’t really see any of the surroundings. Rwanda is truly gorgeous! It’s amazingly green and mountainous (I might not like that later with the miles of riding ahead) but it makes for a magnificent landscape. More photos to come but I did snap one from our ride that you can see below. At around 2pm we all headed out for our first ride in Rwanda! Our initial plan was to ride at noon but due to logistics we ended up going out at 2pm – in the middle of a torrential rainstorm! No worries, we are here to ride and off we went. I’m from San Diego and used to rapidly changing whether but I cannot remember the last time I rode where it started off raining, then it became sunny, then it rained again and then we hit another one last sunny spot before turning around to do it all over again. Despite the rain our ride was amazing. You would have thought we were a group of celebrities the way we were cheered on and encouraged by the Rwandan people as they ran by us even waved at us from the hill tops. We saw a glimpse of their lifestyle, the mud houses many of them lived in, baskets carried on the tops of their heads, farms that they worked on. And luscious, luscious green.
Tomorrow’s plans involves Phil meeting with the Rwandan Embassy, Dr. Steve Edelman giving a presentation on all things diabetes to 40 Rwandan doctors, another ride and a visit to the Genocide museum. One quick note on that as I will go into it more later, but for those of you who do not know in 1994 Rwanda experienced a horrific genocide comparable to that of the Holocaust. The country has come an extremely long way from those times mainly as a result of their President Paul Kagame and is now probably the safest Central African country (in fact as I was writing this sentence a UN Ambassador – yes they walk around here, it’s cool – asked me why I was not out enjoying myself in Kigali and I explained that we will explore later but that I was sharing our experiences here with friends, family and TT1 fans and he assured me that this city is a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y safe).
Until next time!