Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gitega, Burundi

Gitega sits aloft in the middle of Burundi. We traveled from 2600' elevation in Bujumbura, where we landed,to over 6000' in Gitega. We ascended for 2 hours to cover the 75 miles in distance (NOT as the crow flies) and 3400' in elevation. The temperature became considerably cooler, the sky bluer, and the area more rural.

One of the more interesting parts of the drive up there was to watch the bicyclists. Since the roads were so steep, the young men would "hitch on" to a truck making the drive up. The would just grab onto the back of it somewhere and hold on. Unfortunately, we were unable to get a picture if it in action, but one can be found online.

Gitega is considered the very center of Burundi. In fact, they have a tree in town that is designated the center of the country.

The only paved runway right now is in Bujumbura, the capital. Because of the location, the government has decided to move the capital to Gitega, gradually over the next few years. The climate of the area is much more pleasant.

Having lived in Colorado for several years, it is hard to imagine a tropical climate at that elevation. I am not sure that I understand all the dynamics, but it never gets really cold or even comes close to a freeze. The main variance in the weather is rainy or dry.

The city itself is very congested but still very undeveloped or underdeveloped. There was one cyber cafe in town but the connection was not always available. A few streets are paved. There are little shops of services and goods everywhere, everything from barbers to tailors to furniture makers (all by hand, no electric machines).