Monday, December 14, 2009

Serena Sunday

Yesterday I went on vacation for 8 hours. I came back with a wicked sunburn, an empty wallet, and a full belly. With a couple of friends, I drove across the border into Rwanda in the morning and went to a fancy resort hotel (Serena), the meeting place of a handful of random tourists in ridiculous tricked-out tourist-Hummers, Indian MONUC men in gold aviator glasses and mustaches (I think those are required parts of their uniform along with the blue helmets), Indian businessmen, rich Rwandans, various UN employees and the humanitarian aid crowd (me!).

Rooms at the Serena Hotel apparently run something like $200 a night. They have a $20 buffet lunch complete with salad, a cheese platter, and a dessert table. Getting a lounge chair and a big towel down at the beach costs $6 and is completely worth it, because it means you can leave your stuff lying there while you go swim in Lake Kivu. Instead of murky, suspicious looking water dropping off suddenly from algae-covered cooled-lava shores, there is a beach with real sand, and the water stays the perfect depth of five feet for dozens of yards out into the lake. Gas bubbles – bubbles of something – rise from the underwater sand when you scuff at it with your toes. It is both creepy and cool.

After the sun drained us and the rains began, we fled inside to the bar, where I ordered a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate came in a huge glass beer mug and was perfect.