Thursday, August 13, 2009


Monday morning I had yet another 5am wake up call as Irene and I boarded our 8am flight from Nairobi to Bujumbura. We arrived to discover it is a solid 10 degrees warmer than Nairobi and I had packed completely wrong :p We were met by two WYA members, one who had attended the DDD conference in Nairobi, and driven to the Amahoro youth club. Amahoro means peace in Burundi.

We had a great meeting with the club members, then went for lunch nearby. The club is next door to a hair saloon - coiffure - and the stylists were outside eating lunch. They insisted I join them for lunch so I sat and had some kassava paste with soup and tiny fish, whole! The kassava is really sticky and I was already nauseous from beginning my anti-malaria medication that morning. I focused on so many happy memories to swallow it and remain smiling. They then insisted I go for another one, I'd managed to avoid the small fish up until this point. One of the women then picked one up and motioned for me to do the same. I tried to find the smallest one I could, but still got one which stared back at me while I held onto it's tail. I ate it, thankfully the bones were so small they didn't crunch. I smiled and thanked them for their hospitality. They wanted me to finish the whole meal with them, but I told them I absolutely could not as Irene and some club members were waiting for me.

Thankfully the food we went to eat was matoke (fried bananas), and some stews with which I am more familiar. We then went to the house where we were staying for the night, after booking our bus ticket leaving for Kigali the next morning. We stayed at a little house, about 20 minutes outside of Bujumbura with two bedrooms. One of the guys gave up his bedroom for us and they all shared a room together. We had a 30 minute nap as we were exhausted before heading back into town.

Bujumbura is a little town, and takes maybe 15 minutes to drive from one side to the other, with traffic. Within a few hours of walking, we'd seen most of the sights and were somewhat familiar with the geography. They took us to a little crafts store where we got a few items. We'd understood we would go into town for supper, so neither Irene nor I had snacked before we left.

By the time we got back to where we were staying it was 930 and we hadn't eaten since 1pm. My stomach was eating itself from the pills and even Irene was in dire need of food. We were planning to bust out protein bars and bread in our room, but the tv was in our room and our hosts decided they wanted to hang out with us. They all lounged on the bed, chatting and finally around 10pm we were served some food.

The uncomfortable part of the trip was they were all asking if I were married, engaged, had a boyfriend, when I said no to all three they were horrified and one spent nearly an hour telling me I had to reproduce so I could have beautiful children. I attempted to say beautiful children depends on a number of factors but he wasn't dissuaded from his quest. It's amazing how they all love blonde hair and white skin - Irene and I were discussing the next day all the whitening creams, hair extensions, etc. that people use to attempt to make themselves more fair, and the huge need there is for people to see beauty around them rather than some colonialist version they're currently accepting.

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