Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maramutze en Rwanda

It is now the third day of Irene's and my stay in Rwanda. We are taking a few moments at an internet cafe with a French keyboard so I will likely avoid all contractions since I cant find the apostrophe key...

I think I will never get used to Rwanda's beauty. The red dirt amongst rolling hills and lush tropical greenery everywhere. So much construction has occurred since I last visited, there are more houses and fewer shacks, the roads have more flowers and plants growing alongside - its amazing how much it has developed! On top of all this, many of the Rwandese still wear their traditional dress, so they look so beautiful walking along the roads.

My last visit to Rwanda I wanted so much to take a motorcycle taxi, yesterday my wish came true. We arrived late Sunday night as Kenya air had overbooked the flight and we couldn't get on - so we waited 6 hours to take the next flight. We were greeted by Obadias whom I'd met my previous visit along with Ntezimana - a member from Butare who took the bus into Kigali simply to meet us. Our first night we spent in a hostel which cost much more than our budget, so we took Monday morning with Ntezimana to ask around for a cheaper place. We took the bus to the other side of Kigali close to the embassies where a Christian organisation had said they could offer us a room for a third of the cost. After following their directions to the bus stop, we had to walk 45 minutes back in the direction we had come to find the place. Upon arrival, it turned out they had no rooms but that another center close by might.

Since they told us the other center was close by, and knowing African time, I asked them to call the other place before we spent the rest of the day walking in search of it. They did have rooms, so we walked for 30 min, it was a very nice clean humanitarian organisation with extra rooms, so we agreed to stay there. By that time we had only 20 min to get back into Kigali as we had a radio interview scheduled, so we had to take motorcycles rather than the bus - LOVED it!

We spoke on the English radio station here, we had a one hour segment and a WYA member here was the DJ so he asked great questions to keep the show moving and focus on WYA. We then moved our stuff from the hostel to another cheaper place - it turned out that Obadias knew a cheaper place but thought we would want more comfortable lodgings - very thoughtful, but not how WYA works ;)

Today we gave a seminar scheduled from 8am till 3pm. I knew last evening that it would start on African time - but there was so much talk of punctuality. I arrived just on time, and Irene shortly afterwards as she had been printing slides of my speech since the laptop wasn't working. We then sat till 9am since apparently more than half the participants had called to say they would show at 10am. I felt terrible for the few who had actually been punctual and were sitting waiting there, when I asked if we could begin at least for those I was reminded that Africa functions on African time...

It was especially frustrating though as, true to form, I hadn't woken up on time - so hadn't eaten breakfast. Always a problem, but with anti-malaria pills eating my insides if I neglect to eat every few hours, the time spent waiting was especially painful. After I finally gave my first talk, I snuck outside to eat a protein bar (thanks Bissie!) After the seminar we gave out certificates to all the participants and then had a few photo ops. Then we went for lunch with Obadias, Allen (the DJ) and Bosco (another WYA member).

Food here is so delicious and filling. Meals consist typically of rice, kasava, cooked bananas, beans, ugali, potatoes, carrots, and some form of meat. Not every dish has all those ingredients (although todays did!) but the foods are so filling that it doesn't really matter.

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