Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rwanda Day One

In case you were eaten up with wonder, here is a picture of my Princess Mosquito bed. You may call me that from now on.
The weather here is heavenly. Last night, it was about 68 with low humidity. This morning it's about 73 with low humidity. Let's all move to Rwanda! I'm told this is what it's like year round. The Africans, all garbed in jeans and sweaters, saw me wearing short sleeves and capris and said, "Aren't you cold?" 73 is a bit too chilly for them. (Although I have discovered that prices here are similar to Colorado, so we can't retire here. Dominican Republic it is.)

I learned that the men singing and clapping I heard this morning were actually a running group. They chant to get worked up. That would make working out way more fun. More like an African street party.

I spent a relaxing morning reading, writing, and surfing the web. The communication specialists started arriving throughout the day, and we all had lunch together. I had delicious bouef brochettes, a Rwandan specialty. It took 1 hour to make the food, another specialty of Rwanda. Phoebe and Joe (her husband) were telling us that in some places, you have to beware what you order to ensure you have time. If you order chicken, they may be going out to catch and slaughter the bird. (In which case, you also have to have multiple people order chicken, as you have to eat the whole thing.) One time Joe ordered fish in a rural restaurant. The waiter said, "It might take some time," and Joe said OK. He then saw the waiter get in a boat and starting rowing across the lake to go fishing. That's fresh fish.

After lunch, we drove in a big van 2 hours northwest to Musanze. Here some of us are. You'll notice two Asians. The staff from Bangladesh couldn't get visas for China, so they got to come to Africa instead.
Kigali is a beautiful city to drive through. It's amazingly clean. (Plastic bags are illegal and will be confiscated at the airport.) It was as clean, if not cleaner, than cities in the US, which is impressive if you've seen pictures of Nairobi or Kampala. The streets are also very well maintained and there is little traffic. Although there are still many poor, they have been relocated to the outskirts of the city, so you wouldn't know from driving through Kigali that it has a large population of poor people.

Kigali, and the rest of the countryside, is all hills. It's call "the land of a thousand hills," but there are far more than a thousand. I was surprised by how tall the trees are. I was expecting thick vegetation close to the ground, but the trees are tall and lean. The hills are terraced with farms and the brick-red earth frames them like a patchwork quilt. It's lovely. The countryside kept reminding me of the jungles in Disney's Tarzan, which Mike and I recently watched.

We are staying in Musanze, which is at the foot of Volcanoes National Park. Outside my hotel window is a tall volcano, where the gorillas live. Here is Princess Mosquito bed number two. Just outside the window, to the right of the trees, you can barely make out the volcano. We are at about 8500 feet here.

At dinner, I argued with the Bengalis which sport is more boring: football (soccer), or American football. Now I shall read through my notes to prepare to teach tomorrow!


Aubergine said...

Ok. Now, we know more about Rwanda. It looks charming. The altitude is about like Breckenridge . . . gorilla's instead of ski slopes. Hope you have a good day teaching.

Michael Jonathan Van Schooneveld said...

Cool cool. Love the pic of all your com specs. Looks like a fun group. Hope your training went great. I'm sure you did awesome. Have fun and enjoy Africa!