Monday, October 12, 2009

I went to Kigali in search of turkey. I came back with a 'new' skirt.

I have promised myself that this was one of the last weekends I will spend in Kigali for a while. I like it and everything – the good food, great coffee, meeting up with friends and the availability of peanut butter – but I really missed my home in Kibungo. I think that this is the first time since I arrived here that I’ve actually thought of this little house as my home – and I couldn’t get here fast enough on Sunday!


The plan was this: Christine would catch the bus from her town, text me when she was on it and then I would get on the bus when it stopped in Kibungo. Well, a little miss communication meant that she bought a ticket for a bus that didn’t come and and eventually got the bus an hour later. I wander down to the bus park which is always buzzing with excitement and constant people asking me if I’m going to Kigali. I had already bought my ticket through Sotra. There are a few bus companies down this way but Stella and Sotra are the best because they are competing for business and both have big new busses (as to flea ridden mini busses).  So, Sotra ticket in hand I start to wait. Then I meet up with Gosbert who is the “man in charge” of the Stora sellers in Kibungo. He promises, as always, that I’ll get a good bus. And he knows I need to get on it because my friend is on it. This – is to the dismay of the Stella operator who believes, strongly, that I should ride with them. Then his phone rings. He talks for a little while in Kinyarwanda. When he gets off the phone he says to me “You should phone you’re friend. There is a problem with the bus.” So, I dial Christine’s number and she picks up saying “I was just texting you.” “How’s the bus?” I say and she laughs and replies “Not good.” The bus had a flat so at present they were outside fixing it. Ah! We’ll never get to Kigali!


Eventually the bus comes – just as the rain starts. So Gosbert grabs my hand and we run toward the bus. He looks in and sees not 1, not 2 but 3 muzungus! (Two were tourists travelling from Tanzania) He pushes me on the bus so I have seat with Christine – granted it was the fold-down-in-the-aisle seat but on the big busses they aren’t too bad. We’re off . It’s raining hard and the bus driver is intent on making up time. He’s speeding through Rwanda and – in a country that is one of the most densly populated in Africa – it means swerving to avoid pedestrians, bicycles and passing plantain trucks. Eventually we arrive in Kigali – in the dark – make our way to meet Karen at St. Paul’s guesthouse. It’s good and cheap and has hot water showers.  I’ve not had a hot shower since…um….Calgary. Oh, no, there was one luke warm shower in Kigali about 5 weeks ago, I think.  But it turns out that St. Paul’s is booked and so we’re in the older guest house next door which is not as nice and the last volunteer to go there had bites from bed bugs. Oh well, we’re here. And least in Kigali there is reliable electricity.


Click. (that’s the sound of the power going out – just as I thought how nice it was to be able see while I was unpacking).


No worries! No traveler to Rwanda goes anywhere – even a weekend in the city – without their head lamp. So, without missing a beat, I grab my light and continue unpacking. Next door, Karen and Christine had done the exact same thing. After a little break we head to Sun and Moon which is a fancy pants pizza place and wait over an hour for our food. But it was worth it! Real food – yum! The company was great but we were tired so we head back for a good sleep.


I spent the night feeling like I was being bitten by bugs. In the morning I was pleasantly surprised to be bite free.


Saturday was full of shopping with Dianne, who is a local student we met when we first got here. She took us to the markets because I needed a skirt and the girls were on the hunt for dresses, t-shirts etc. Dianne was great because she could tell us whether the price was fair or we were getting the muzungu price. I bought a great skirt, which I needed considering I only bought one below the knew to Rwanda. Lunch at Simba and we all three ordered hamburgers. Must have been our iron deficiencies calling out for us.


After lunch we headed to Amahoro Stadium where some girls we know were in a fundraising soccer game against some female MPs to raise money for the One Dollar Campaign. We thought they were to start playing at 2pm but there were kids playing instead. The game started at 5:15! But we had fun sitting with Rwandans and cheering on the games we watch. When the muzungus took the field – and immediately scored two goals – the crowds went wild with excitement! Then a local and a muzungu tripped over and they went wild again! So much excitement. Unfortunately, the Rwandan team was not doing very well so they brought in some ringers from the national women’s team and beat the muzugus quite easily. A late game meant we were too late to head to the Mutzig festival and instead found a local bar for a beer and chips. I headed back to St. Paul’s on my own by moto. First time riding a moto in the dark and it was cold! But arrived to find the gate locked. I already knew the power had been out so I was armed with a light and knocked on the gate. The moto drive was nice and waited until I was safely inside before he left. He even honked his horn a few times to get the guard’s attention. Safely instead I headed to bed. Tired and already looking forward to my own bed in Kibungo.


Sunday I had a great breakfast at Bourbon, complete with a caramel macchiato. We caught the bus at noon and during the ride I turned on my IPod and enjoyed the scenery pass by. We passed a bike vs. car accident and watch a group of men carry the victim (a man on a bicyle) along the road. His head was bleeding through the t-shirt someone wrapped around him. While there is a law that all moto drivers and passengers have to wear helmets – the same does not go for guys on bikes.


I arrived home, unpacked my new purchases (hand towels, coconut milk and a new wok) and got down to making an early dinner. (Sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and shredded cabbage with hoisin sauce and nutflour and an egg for protein) It was so good. I settled in to eat and watch a movie. Thankfully my laptop was charged but right on cue, the power went off.  Argh.


This week will (I hope) be a busy one. I have a few school visits and a head teachers needs assement on Wednesday. I’ve developed some categories that I’d like to assess so that I can plan workshops and training better. No point planning something that the schools don’t feel is useful. I’m really looking forward to the results because it will mean that I can get down to work. I’ve begun to wonder why I’m here a bit but I know that things take time. So, I’ve been patient but am happy to get this underway. Tonight (Monday) I’m heading to Dorothy and Christine’s because they, along with Andy (a Canadian World Teach volunteer) are planning a THANKSGIVING DINNER!!! Now, there won’t be any turkey, to be sure. But still, it’s my first holiday away from home and while I really miss everyone in Calgary, there is no point sitting here alone.


So, with that – Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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