Here you can find some photos about my days discovering Bujumbura. The travel advice the UK Gov mentions about Burundi is: “If you don’t have an essential reason to stay in Burundi, you should leave if the opportunity arises to do so safely by commercial means”. The Spanish one says: “It is recommended not to travel in any case to the country and that the Spanish citizens leave Burundi temporarily until the security situation on the ground is clarified”. That’s all I knew about Burundi when I was in neighboring Rwanda. On the internet there was no more information, and the people I was asking in Rwanda just told me two things: 1, there are thousands of refugees fleeing daily from Burundi; 2, it is very dangerous, they are almost at war.
I decided to go and ask the Embassy of Burundi in Rwanda:
– Is it safe to go to Burundi as a tourist?
– Can I cross the border on foot and reach the capital by public transport?
-Am I not going to die?
-I don’t think so!
Meanwhile an Irish journalist was arguing because he had been waiting for his visa for 3 weeks already, when the stipulated time is 2 weeks. His Rwandan visa was running out and he wanted to see the ambassador. The situation wasn’t very promising, but I decided to apply for my visa anyway. During the next days, I am going to cover in a new series what I saw in Burundi during my short visit to the country.
I can’t say that Burundi was perfectly safe, but I can tell what people affirmed to me: the situation since December 2015 (almost one year ago) was much better. No more shootings. However, by that time last news were that opposition members were “disappearing”. The amount of armed police and soldiers patroling the streets of the city were a sign that something was going on. Moreover, in the outskirts you could find several military checkpoints: I was asked twice for my passport on the way to the capital.
I went to walk alone, with my camera in my hand, and started talking to people. Very few of them could speak English, but they tried their best. Even if we could not communicate, we had fun however we could imagine. For example, when I saw some guys selling iron machines on the street, I imitated their way to call people’s attention. As they saw replacing one of the iron-machines with my own camera and trying to sell it to the passers-by, they started laughing a lot.
The second day I decided it was time to shave my beard, so I went to small hair salon I found at the end of a narrow street. I asked them how much was it to get shaved with an hair-cut machine. The woman there said it was 3,000 Burundian Francs. Then I asked how much was it if I do it myself, it was 2,000. It is not that I wanted to save 1,000, but I wanted to do it myself because I have been doing that for years. It was amazing for them to see a foreigner there, but even more to see him using the machine itself! They started taking me photos and videos.
Discovering Bujumbura through some more photos with interesting stories behind: