26 – A Treat for the Eyes

26 – A Treat for the Eyes

Next we decided to go visit the “Foyer de Charité”, a retreat centre run by a Catholic community. The centre is perched on the top of a hill, overlooking Lake Ruhondo (about 20 miles from Musanze). We called on our trusty motorbike friends and off we went.

Foyer de Charité – Remera Ruhondo

We have been raving to you about the roads here in Rwanda, but we found an exception: the dirt road leading to the Foyer de Charité! Being on the bikes, we felt every hole, bump and gully. Plus, this time we were carrying our bags on our backs – which was fine on the flat roads, but as soon as we started going uphill, we had to use all our tummy muscle and thigh strength to stay upright! The climb felt never ending! We arrived at the top of the hill with super flat tummies and wobbly legs.

We made it to the top! 🏍🏍

We presented ourselves at the reception, where the price was non-negotiable, and the spoken language was French, not English! (It’s a French organisation). Benoît guided us to our bedroom – a classic ‘retreat style’ bedroom: simple, clean, with a small desk, en-suite bathroom and twin beds (which we pushed together!). The only thing out of the ordinary was the view! WOW, it was breath taking!

We took our picnic outside to fully appreciate the panorama. We sat there for ages, soaking it all up: the lake, its little islands, the farms below, the villages on the other side of the water and the grand volcanoes in the distance. It was as if we were looking at a model village in a museum: here, a worker was walking home with a spade over his shoulder; there, a group of children were playing amongst the banana trees; opposite, a storm broke out and clouds gushed water onto the huts below whilst lightning flashed throughout the valley. A little later, a stunning rainbow spanned over the hills. It must have been the first time either of us had seen a complete rainbow. It was the most beautiful view we have seen since the beginning of our trip, and quite possibly the most beautiful view we have ever seen in our lives!

See the slideshow and video below:

A video of the view 😍

Dinner was served in a communal room. Everyone sat around the same wooden table and shared the same meal. We had only paid for dinner for one person (as we are travelling on a budget and because we were not starving). However, the other guests kindly insisted that we ate for two! We shared our table with a young German family (who struggled to speak French with the staff), as well as two couples around our parents’ age who were travelling together: a French couple and a Franco-Belgian couple. The Belgian lady was born in Rwanda in the fifties, during the Belgian occupation.

Our discussions concentrated on Rwanda before the genocide, its progress since, gorillas, and Africa in general. The Belgian lady told us some interesting anecdotes, like how the Tutsis and the Hutus already fought against each other before the genocide (it was interesting to hear the other side of the story!). She also told us that her parents’ house was rented out to President Habyarimana and that the day the expats were evacuated from Rwanda, a friend of hers snuck her dog into her handbag (as they were only allowed to take one bag with them!). We enjoyed being in the other guests’ company. It was nice to share one dining table; it gave us the chance to chat to people we bumped into all day but were not able to talk to as one must remain silent at the retreat centre!

The next day, the Franco-Belgian couple offered to drop us off in Musanze (on their way to picking up their friends who had visited the Gorillas). We were very grateful for seats in their 4×4 – we would not have to schlep down the hill on bikes! Phew!

Scroll down for more photos of the Foyer de Charité…

The Church ⛪🌈
The Chapel

5 Replies to “26 – A Treat for the Eyes”

  1. Magnificent spot to retreat. What spectacular views – the clouds in your pictures look like classic Frankie painted clouds!
    How strict are the Rwandans about motorcycle Helmets? Did you have to wear them?
    Pleased to hear you are picnicking – there is nothing to beat a picnic with a view!
    A double rainbow no less. How spectacular. What an enriching experience you are having, faced with the worst atrocities humanity is capable of and the kindness and generosity of strangers and the spectacular magnificence of creation in the midst of the potentially destructive nature of a storm – all in a day – phew!
    I wonder if bananas taste infinitely better when eaten within sight of the tree upon which they grew, a bit like fish and chips taste so much better when eaten on the beach with the sound and smell of the sea in one’s ears and nose!
    I remember enjoying communal eating at a large dining table when Dad and I were travelling, there is something inherently bonding when people gather around a meal and eat together and share experiences and stories. Marvelous.
    Looking forward to your next instalment 🙂 Lots of love xxxx

    1. Yes, magnificent indeed. I see what you mean about the clouds!!
      Rwanda is the first country we’ve been in where helmets are obligatory. All moto-taxis drive around with a spare helmet here 👍 It’s also only one passenger per bike (unlike Kenya and bits of Tanzania).
      Yes, shared dining tables are lots of fun. Lots of love and thanks for your comments 😃

  2. Oh my; those are views of a lifetime—Africa can be magnificent!! Thank you for sharing G Ma xxxx xxxx

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