Thursday, May 14th
To temporarily lighten the mood, I thought I would show you a photo of Gary and the "kids."
Wednesday evening, after receiving word we had to leave, we had Gian Franco come over and take our two little cuties. He and his family were going to take them on the 26th, his daughter's birthday, but he was happy to come get them a bit early.
Now back to reality and what's going on.
All night Wednesday we could hear gunfire, grenades, and mortars going off. Fierce fighting erupted over night between soldiers loyal to the president and those who support the protests. The 2 factions battled for the national radio station and several other government locations. A rocket hit the independent radio station that has been the source for independent news, totally destroying it. At 7:00am, we left our house to go to the Martha Hotel. Gary and Fabrice had to use some muscle power to move rocks from 4 barricades that blocked our way. The other barricades were wide open, and when we made it to the main road, we were the only vehicle we saw.
A parting picture of Gary and our guard Fabrice
We arrived at the Martha Hotel to find their gates closed and a guard telling us we could not come in. It was quite eerie to be alone on the streets with all doors and gates closed to us. We asked to talk to the lady at reception. She came out and recognized us, as we have brought several people to stay at this hotel and are acquainted with this woman at the desk. She let us come in, and we got a room. It felt good to be at the hotel! The security man responsible to get us out is also at this hotel.
We are not sure now if the coup was successful. The celebrations of yesterday have turned into fear and firefights with both sides claiming to be the victors.
Lunch was interesting at the Martha. The explosions and gunfire at times seemed so close that Gary insisted I sit behind a small cement support wall for a time. The ladies at the front desk were hunkered down behind the reception desk.
Tonight we talked with other guests at the hotel restaurant on the top floor. We met Peter, an electrician from South Africa who was in Bujumbura working for the local power company, James, a businessman from Malawi who is here checking on his business interests, and Patrick, the security guy who supposedly will get us out. He doesn't inspire much confidence so we may have to figure this out on our own. No one knows when or how we will leave.