Bujumbura, Burundi

When I arrived at the border of Burundi I was afraid of being rejected by the immigration because my visa was not valid before the day after, but they just stamped me in without any questions or comments which also was surprising considered the current state of the country. Burundi has been unrestful the last couple of years and has now calmed down before the riots and shootings most likely will resume before the may elections.

The police had made simple road blockades with ropes like the picture above, where they were supposed to be looking for rebels, but instead they use the opportunity asking for bribes. On our third police stop our driver for really angry at the police, telling him that he wouldnt pay to a uniformed man who smelled of alcohol and ended up driving on without paying, and when we came to the fourth checkpoint the driver just started speeding and drove right through the rope blockade as he saw that the policeman was busy buying fish from a seller who was passing by. Crazy country I thought, as we were driving through the countryside and into the capitol Bujumbura.

The capitol was not my favorite, but it was really cheap(1usd for 32 bananas and 0.60usd for a huge warm breakfast for the mama in the picture above). The city center is made up of cobblestone and is situated right next to Lake Kivu where we went for hippo spotting (didn’t see any) and swimming at a beach resort called Bora Bora. Getting some work and travel organizing by the pool while drinking delicious Burundian coffee was also nice.

In the evening my host took me to the night clubs which were full of expats and rich locals. Quite a contrast to the average guy in Burundi, where I found more beggars than in the neighboring countries. Inflation rate here is also higher than most other countries, as I got around 30 per cent more for my dollars than the official rate.

The craziest experience was going home from the bars late at night where some police officers across the road was arresting a kid, and when they saw my host who carried a radio and me who was a foreigner they shouted and tried to make us stop, but my host just said “RUN!” and we sprinted back home. Afterwards he told me that the police here are paranoid and corrupt, so if they would have caught us I wouldn’t have made my 6am bus as they would have questioned us for hours and probably demanded some money from us to let us go. Unlike what a lot of people think, Burundi is a safe country but the police here is tense and is better to be avoided.

Leave a comment