Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Post office woes and a trip to Lake Kivu

Do you remember the days of Columbia House? You could get like 150 CDs for a penny or something, if you ordered 5 over the next year. I remember my friend Nina and I went through them to build up our collection of “grunge” CDs. Okay, to be honest, she wanted to build up her CDs because she just got a new stereo. I was still ordered tapes.  We went through the list and picked a bunch of albums and sent away. I remember the day her parcel came. We looked the return address and just knew that we would soon be listening to Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. To our horror Columbia House did not have all the CDs she had requested so instead of the Blind Melon album or the newest Black Crows. Instead we (I say “we” because we shared everything music) got the three disc collected works of Simon and Garfunkel! I kid you not. Columbia House looked at the music taste and said “Yes, I can see that this person is partial to the Seattle scene, so we’re going to send them some Simon and freakin’ Garfunkel.” The only music we’d heard was a Lemonheads version of Mrs. Robinson so we through on the CD and despite our preconceptions, we were pleasantly surprised.


On Friday I asked Vincent, the guy that works at the “iposita” to call me if a long awaited package arrived. He called when I was in Kigali and I was so excited to go get it. Aimey said she mailed something over 6 weeks ago – so it must be that – right? Today, I got there and, sadly, it was not the package. Instead, it was some books I ordered from Amazon. (Yes, Amazon delivers to Kibungo, Rwanda!) While I’m excited to have something good to read, I can’t help but be a little disappointed that Aimey’s parcel is somewhere out there, in post office purgatory, waiting to arrive to this little slice of heaven. Sigh. The books won’t be all that bad but Simon and Garfunkel was no Eddie Vedder either.




While I wait patiently for my post to arrive, I can describe my weekend to you. Orginally the plan was to head to Ngyuwye to see the chimps. Julie had organized it all but there weren’t enough beds – the only two guest houses were all booked up. So, instead, the Eastern Province crew decide to Go West. We were going to go to Lake Kivu. On Friday, after doing some business at the VSO office, though we had a couchsurfing meeting. Officially, I’m a couchsurfer. I signed up in April after meeting a girl from Seattle who  referred me. I’ve known many people to couch surf and it’s really a great idea. There is a large database of people who have surfed or hosted. It’s all built on a community of mutual trust and basically, you can get free accommodation anywhere in the world. The idea is to build community and share cultures around the world – one couch at a time. Truthfully, I’ve never surfed or hosted. I’ve wanted to host but by the time people started sending me messages, I was already on the move myself. I’ve never surfed because, frankly, I’m too shy. But, it’s a good way to meet people in a new country. So, the Rwandan couch surfers (mostly in Kigali) met at a place called Mamba on Friday night. I dragged my two non-surfers with me and we found the place (after a number of wrong turns, a few wrong bus stations and some guys following us from the centre of town to the suburbs).  We met some really neat people, including a couple who surfed around the world with a 5 month baby for a year and now, with their second child in tow, are living in Kigali. They are a total inspiration to anyone wanting to have kids but not wanting to give up travelling.


Saturday morning we enjoyed a coffee and breakfast with Lynley – a Canadian VSO volunteer in Kigali. She lets us…surf…at her house Friday night. Then we hopped on the bus and headed to Kibuye to see Lake Kivu. After many twists and turns and wanting to throw up, we arrived at the small lakeside town. We made our way to Home St. Jean, which is a great, clean and cheap guest house with a magnificent view of the lake. We snacked and then headed down to the “beach” – it was a path that lead down to some rocks. We all dove right in to enjoy the fresh – and bilharzia free – waters. Okay, I didn’t dive in at all. I whined and complained about the cold until I could finally get up the courage to jump in. Once in – it was beautiful!! After the dip we enjoyed………HOT showers. HOT, as in not freezing. As in, there were two dials instead of one, and one said cold and one said HOT and when you turned the HOT one, the temperature of the water increased. It was amazing. This was the first HOT shower I have had since Calgary. HOT…..beautiful and amazing and everything a shower should be. (Still, it was in a stall, with bugs on the wall but it was HOT and that’s all I cared about). It was hard to get out. I did – eventually. We had a great dinner and, in typical Rwandan fashion, headed to bed early. The next morning we walked down to the lake (and were nearly attacked my a crazy man in the market until the sellers threw stones and avocados at him until he ran away) and caught a bus back to Kigali.


The weekend was so relaxing. I think it’s the first time I’ve felt like a holiday since I’ve been here. It was so nice. So nice that last night I didn’t even bother to wash dishes or boil water. I just kept on relaxing. Of course, I paid for it this morning when I tried to boiled water half asleep. I burned my finger on the kerosene stove. It immediately turned into a blister. Yuck. This week is a short one, as I need to be back in Kigali for a meeting on Friday. I have one school visit and I’m preparing for my workshops that begin in earnest in November. 

View of the lake from our room.
Lake Kivu
Look who decided to join us?
Eastern Province crew (minus a few important friends)

Home St. Jean. Beautiful!

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