Author’s Note: Wait, why am I reading about Rwanda? Check out Winning a Trip to Rwanda for more information! Don’t worry, the music reviews continue as scheduled.
Flying to Rwanda is nothing like taking a trip to Europe. Of course, I’ve never been to Europe (not yet anyway – stay tuned) but Rwanda is, well Rwanda.
It’s full of drought, famine, bugs (literal bugs – and I hear locusts are coming) and those bad bugs that attack your immune system. You simply can’t book a flight, fill a suitcase and go. Well, you can I guess, but…
How To Plan a Trip to Rwanda
First things first – grab your passport. You need it and your passport must not expire within six months of said trip otherwise you need to get a new one. But you don’t need a visa.
Rwanda costs money to enter. $50. American dollars work. Now, here is an interesting bit of advice. If you plan to exchange money for the Rwanda franc, you will find crisp, new $100 bills get you the best exchange rate. Why? Don’t ask me because I don’t know. You can exchange smaller bills and worn or older hundreds, but if you want the best bang for your buck get them crisp and don’t fold them. But you don’t need the crisp hundreds to enter the country.
You need vaccines. And a lot of them if you haven’t had some of the basics. Hepatitis A and B if you never got the series. Thankfully, I didn’t need those but I got stabbed four times,anyway!. Polio, T-dap, typhoid, and MMR (measles).
And Rwanda has species we don’t have in the United States. Apparently day mosquitoes are a thing now and they pass on some fun diseases, too. But, malaria is the big one so plan to eat poison. Yes, you literally take poison to ward off malaria. A few types of these malaria tablets exist and one evidently comes with some nefarious side effects. Spontaneous burst tendon, anyone? Thanks but no thanks. Thankfully, the recommended “medication” Malarone poses little issues other than vomiting and nausea if taken on an empty stomach. You have to start taking it two days before landing in Rwanda and continue for seven days after you have left the country.
Or risk getting malaria.
Consider taking an antibiotic. Ask your doctor, not me. But, as we were told, if diarrhea hits and lasts more than a day then take 500mg of azithromycin for three days. If the diarrhea improves, you got yourself a bug and that means, thankfully, the antibiotic worked. So, get a prescription for three days of azithromycin and bring it with you. If you end up with diarrhea that doesn’t respond to the medication and lasts longer than three days, you have issues.
Something that might help with warding off the effects of a change in diet and/or bad bacteria is a probiotic. Start taking that a week or so before your trip and continue throughout your stay.
You also need Deet. Now, hold on a second. I learned the chemical in Deet crosses the blood brain barrier. No thanks. Instead, we’re going natural. Apparently, and I’ll keep the science class to a minimum, researchers have identified a handful of natural scents that repel mosquitos. So we bought a Deet free product from REPEL that uses lemon and eucalyptus. Place this on your skin and you have a natural barrier against mosquitoes without further poisoning your body. And, you’ll smell good too.
Also, you can spray your clothes down with pesticide, if you so choose. We used a product from Sawyer which contains permethrin which, I believe, is commonly used in flea spray. Let it dry and the chemical binds to the fabric through six washes. When the mosquito lands on your clothes it, in a sense, zaps it. Think of yourself as one of those electronic zappers so often used in the south. Bye, bye mosquito. Yes, another layer of poison but once dry your body doesn’t absorb it, your clothes don’t smell and you don’t risk the effects from Deep, whatever that may be, in a few decades time.
Sawyer smells like flea spray for dogs but it is poisonous to cats so if you have any of the furry ones around, keep them far away. Spray it on your pants, shirts, socks and even shoes then hang your clothes to dry. Because we procrastinated, we sprayed our clothes down the night before we left. But it was all dry by morning.
You only need a fine mist but you need to cover every inch of the garment which can be hard to do. We went through nearly two bottles, didn’t spray socks or shoes, and probably still did not do as thorough a job as needed.
But at least we got the malaria pills.