The raging Rusumo falls between the border posts was a nice change from the often filthy and seedy borders we had encountered previously, and the crossing went smoothly, although the hefty visa price did make us briefly reconsider our options.Knowing little about Rwanda, except that of media reports and Hollywood movies about the genocide back in 1994, we didn't quite know what to expect from this little Francophone nation dubbed the "land of a thousand hills".As we pulled away from immigration it was immediately obvious to us that the country had come a long way in the past 14years, although just how far we would discover in the next few days.Driving the 2 hours from the border to Kigali was a pleasant change as the dusty dirt tracks of Western Tanzania had given way to smooth tarred roads. Had it not been for the fact darkness had fallen upon us we may have almost enjoyed being in the car, but instead dodging the foot and bicycle traffic kept us all on the edge of our seats and longing for our destination.Arriving at night, we again had difficulties locating a place to stay, so once more we enlisted the help of a local taxi driver to direct us in convoy. The destination hotel had been listed in the guidebook, and its prices had since increased dramatically, but being late and Valentines Day we negotiated a slightly better rate and took it on the chin. A special Valentines meal was being served at the hotel restaurant, so we joined the local middle class romantics and dined in the less than amorous setting, TV on and music pumping at ear-bleeding levels of course, before heading to bed.We were in Rwanda for one particular reason, to trek the Mountain Gorillas. We had found it difficult before arriving to book a trek, and with a limited number of permits available daily we had taken a bit of a gamble that we would be able to pick one up last minute. It was possible to arrange such a permit in advance through various travel companies, and although this is the option most people on a tight schedule opt for, we figured a price tag of US$500pp was enough without also paying for the services of a middle man. Consequently our first port of call the following morning was the Tourist office, and it was then that we signed up for the earliest possible opening to trek, in a weeks time. This meant that we would be in Kigali for the next week, but Kaz and I were not fussed, and after a couple of weeks on the go we were quite happy to remain in the once place and chill out for a bit. With a date for the gorillas cast in stone, we found ourselves an apartment we could settle into for the week. It had a communal TV and dining area which allowed us to cook for ourselves when necessary, and secure parking with easy access to Kal and our belongings. Karen and I had a few errands to run, but with minimal in the way of tourist attractions in the Rwandan capital, we were mostly just happy to soak up the African city vibe for a few days.Following the devastation of 1994 when approximately 1 million people were slaughtered in as little as 100days in a systematic attempt to wipe out the Tutsi race, it was immediately obvious Rwanda had made dramatic strides forward. The genocide had led to an enormous influx of foreign aid, possibly due to guilt from the Wests lack of intervention, to rebuild a country that had been torn apart. It was quite evident to us that the aid money had been put to good use, with an excellent road network and quality infrastructure creating a civilised nation, certainly by African standards anyway. Noting the country's progress and knowing that aid money had not simply been used to line the pockets of those in office, further foreign aid has been forthcoming leading to continual development of the country. In such a small nation, nowhere is this progress more evident than in the continually expanding capital of Kigali. The city is wonderful contrast of typically run-down African shacks and brand new high rise business centres that would not look out of place in any developed city in the world.Karen and I took an immediate liking to Kigali, we liked the vibe of the place, we felt safe, and the people seemed welcoming. There was a slight problem with the language barrier as many people did not speak English, and surprisingly few people seemed to speak French either (not that this would have helped us much anyway), but it was only a small issue and most people made an effort to help. It was a busy and often congested place, but not chaotic, and it was easy to get round the city, due to a wonderful network of motor(bike)-taxis. The most surprising part about this was the fact that they were all licensed, numbered, uniformed and had a helmet for both driver and passenger (that were being used), such standards almost unheard of in the Africa we'd seen. They were quick, cheap and efficient, and although Karen twice managed to end up in the wrong spot (this was a communication problem more than anything), moto's were a great way to get around, and something that would be a great addition to many Western cities we've visited.After spending a small amount of time in Rwanda, the thing that probably struck us the most was that despite what the people endured, they were so friendly. We had read statistics that the vast majority of children (now our age) had witnessed horrible scenes of violence such as bloody murders with machetes, dead bodies lying in the street, or rape of their own family members, and yet at face value these people seemed quite upbeat. There was minimal mention of the genocide, but at the same time there was an obvious acceptance of what had happened. There was a distinct effort by everyone to band together and move forward as one nation (thanks largely to their ex-military Tutsi president who eliminated tribal classification and ensured no retaliation occurred in order to break the conflict cycle), and subsequently Rwanda is a now country definitely on the up.Another thing of note, and one for the boys looking to visit - Karen was the first to admit that like the Colombians or the Argentineans of South America, the Rwandan woman can be gorgeous. The tall thin Rwandans were often stunning, and a modelling agency would have a field day in a place like Kigali.The following day we spent the afternoon at another Rwandan league football match. It was good to compare it to the games we had seen in Malawi, and the standard was quite high considering the pitch was about 80% uneven dirt, with only tufts of grass (that needed a serious trimming). The crowd was jovial, and despite the small numbers, very noisy, and unlike European football where the fans separated, it was great to see the opposition crowds interacting in a friendly manner.Having several days to spare in Kigali, the four of us thought we would take the opportunity to educate ourselves about the genocide, and so spent a day visiting a couple of memorials in the nearby villages of Nyamata and Ntamara. Similarly in both cases, Tusti's had taken refuge in the village churches when the Hutu militia arrived and systematically shot, raped, hacked, burned and bludgeoned 10,000 and 5,000 people respectively to death. Walking round the churches was a sobering and indescribable experience. It was a horrible feeling similar to what we had felt when visiting the Nazi concentration camps in Europe. Inside, the churches contained countless bullet holes, blood stains, and piles of clothes and belongings of the victims, but most shocking were the thousands of skulls and bones, spread out for people to witness or piled into makeshift catacombs at the back of the church. The skulls were the most disturbing of all, and highlighted the reality of the genocide, with many cracked, dented or containing holes where the people had been beaten with random objects. Many of these memorials exist all over the country, but this day 2 was enough for us and after stopping en-route at a local school, to take a few photos of the educational murals and to watch the children run about in their presumably Steve Irwin inspired khaki uniforms, playing with their resourceful makeshift spinning tops, we headed back to Kigali.Some may say coincidentally, but we say he was coming because we were there, George Bush was coming to Kigali for the day as part of his African jaunt. There had been a large US forces presence in Kigali, and we assumed this was normal, until US flags began appearing along the roadside and we knew something was up. On the day of his arrival, we had planned to visit the Kigali Genocide Museum and Memorial, but George was to be visiting and we were unable to get security clearance so instead we watched from our veranda, as George, Condoleeza, and all the gang rolled up in convoy to the museum just across the valley. It was quite exciting to watch, as the entourage exited their vehicles, I had never been so close to the US president (although we were still quite far away), and whilst US air force helicopters circled loudly above, we did consider for a second that we could have hired our lounge room out to a sniper.It was big news for Georgie to be in Rwanda and interested in the goings-on we alternated between the slightly delayed telecast of events in our lounge room and the live feed right out front.The next day was our last in Kigali, and we took our final opportunity to check out the Kigali memorial. It was an interesting, well laid-out modern museum, that presented the disturbing facts and touched the heart. It was certainly eye opening and very emotional, but a fantastic account of events that is a must for anyone going to Rwanda.The week had flown by and it was time to move on from Kigali. It really was hard to believe that just 14 years ago it was a city in ruin. It was a great place to spend a few days, but the thing Karen and I just couldn't get out of our head were the people. Almost every individual we saw or met would have been directly affected by the traumatic events of 1994. Most people over the age of 14 would have witnessed acts that to us are incomprehensible - so how could life simply now go on as normal. As we wandered the streets we often found ourselves wondering what each persons story was. Were those we passed in the street Hutu or Tutsi? Was this man involved in the violent killings? Or had that ones family been murdered in front of them? There were people with limbs missing - what was their story?, it was macabre no doubt but no matter how we tried these were the thoughts running through our heads. The genocide was an absolute tragedy, however it was great to see that these people were now moving forward.