By the time our wedding took place, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Exhausted from the endless planning, and also from the cloud of uncertainty that hovered because of the pandemic.
In Rwanda, certain aspects of business and social life were halted due to efforts to control the spread of the virus, and the biggest social hit was weddings.
At one point, authorities suspended all weddings, although an exception was later made for civil and church weddings. Luckily, Jane and I had slated our wedding to take place at this time.
The honeymoon took a back seat throughout the entire wedding preparation, although my fiancé would inquire from time to time if I had any plans for it. I would brush it into the "not a priority now section’" while focusing on immediate, moving parts of the wedding.
We had already ruled out travelling out of the country for our honeymoon, given the difficult times.
So we were looking for a local destination, preferably by a lake, to give us something extra — not just a hotel room, but also at an affordable rate.
We made contact with Serena Kivu, I would say we chose each other, because once we made contact with Serena, the hotel went out of its way to give us the best offer possible.
In the spirit of serving Rwandan honeymooners who have been looking inwards for memorable destinations, and as part of efforts to innovate around its products to serve unique markets in order to stay afloat in these tough times, Serena came up with honeymoon packages at its Lake Kivu hotel.
We arrived at Lake Kivu Serena on a Monday evening. The general manager, Duncan Lewa, a good-natured man, the sales and reservation manager Mustafa Arafat and a few other members of staff received us, which to my wife and I was an immense honour.
As we handed in our particulars which included our negative Covid-19 certificates at the front desk, a smiling waiter handed us small glasses of cold passion juice. It was at this moment that I was hooked on Serena’s passion juice, which I would end up having every day for the whole week's stay.
The butler then took us to our room, which was actually a suite, and it was way beyond our expectations. In the living room area, the table had a basket of fruit and a bottle of wine with two wine glasses on it. Gold lighting saturated the room with lovely hues, a reminder that this was indeed a romantic getaway.
The bed was decorated with heart shaped pink and red rose petals, with other petals sprinkled around it. All this was on a small white cloth on top of a white duvet.
The bathtub was half full, and the water was also sprinkled with red rose petals.
The suite had access to a private balcony, overlooking the lake and with access to a private beach. The bedroom also had access to another balcony, which was perfect for our desire for privacy.
By the time we went downstairs for dinner, my wife was giddy with expectation and speechless from the pleasant surprises.
Our waitress Anne ushered us to our reserved table for two, we both ordered chicken soup as starter. For the main course, I chose the prime steak, well done, steamed matooke and vegetables. Jane ordered the Rwandan special of boiled tender chunks of chicken with coriander mixed with matooke.
The soup was so good, I ordered it many more times for dinner.
The hotel made our honeymoon memorable by setting up breakfast for us at different locations.
Sometimes it was right on the Lake Kivu shore, as we enjoyed the cool breeze from the water, other times at an elevated terrace right next to the pool that overlooks the lake, to soak into the warm brilliance of the Lake Kivu morning sun.
On the third day of our stay, they organised a sun set boat cruise and provided a professional photographer who captured all our experiences.
On our second last night, we were treated to a candle lit dinner at the elevated terrace overlooking the lake, flanked by a starry clear sky.
At night I would hear the calming sound of the waves hitting the beach, with the woman of my dreams beside me.
After what seemed like a lifetime of gruelling wedding preparations, weighed down by the uncertainty of the pandemic, the honeymoon was well worth it.