Fixing bikes in Bujumbura

Discovering Bujumbura, Burundi

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.

Some fellas in the streets of Bujumbura

I decided to go and ask the Embassy of Burundi in Rwanda:
– Is it safe to go to Burundi as a tourist?
-Yes
– Can I cross the border on foot and reach the capital by public transport?
-Yes
-Am I not going to die?
-I don’t think so!

Streets of Bujumbura

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.

Security guy working at a bank

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.

Fixing bikes in Bujumbura

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.

discovering bujumbura

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.

What was it? I don’t have idea…

Discovering Bujumbura through some more photos with interesting stories behind:

Burger Planet in Bujumbura. The guy at the door, tall and strong, was originally from DR Congo. He was a refugee, and he showed me his ID showing so. The next day I went to eat there… the place looked much better than the burgers were. It was also expensive

Bora Bora bar at the shore of Lake Tanganyika, where rich folks go during the weekend to have fun… Next to it there was the huge and luxury Hotel Tanganyika. It wasn’t all poverty in Burundi, not at all
This guy and his friend were doing acrobatics at the shore of Lake Tanganyika
This guy was working in the Hotel de l’Amitie, where I was staying. But I don’t really know the job he was doing there… probably he was the gofer
Guy working at the exchange office
Messi follower
Taxi driver waiting for clients
Another street in Bujumbura
This is the only photo of the military I took… I asked a couple of times to take photos, but soldiers always said no

2 comentarios

  1. I am in love with this series. It is always nice to have a muzungu’s insight on my beautiful country 😀 Thanks for letting the world know that it’s not all poverty there. Those pictures are perfect in every way.

    • Juan Alberto Casado

      Thanks a lot! That is exactly what I pretend, show the normal face of every place. Burundi is not a no-go area, it is not all poverty as you say, and there are a lot of nice people there

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