Saturday, August 31, 2013

Top News Story: Memories of playing soccer with Rwanda's First Lady

Okay Ken, I promised I'd write about this again so here it is. Among many delights about being back in Rwanda is the string of memories associated with living here in 2010. Yes, I played in a soccer match at Amahoro stadium against the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame.
It was a charity match between parliamentarians and expats. Full of pomp and circumstance, we were led out of the stadium holding hands of younger players, lined up by our respective flags and were introduced to the crowd. Now, having thrown out the ceremonial first pitch at a Blue Jays game when I was 15 years old it takes a lot to phase me and even I thought it was pretty cool to play a soccer game in such a huge stadium. I was pumped to play and having been a late addition to the team, I didn't get to start. I warmed up and chatted up the coach on the sidelines then finally after a few minutes the coach put me in. We'd been given strict instructions not to touch, jostle or challenge the First Lady- a remarkably tall, solid lady.
During the first half, the expats went up 3-0 quite quickly. I'm happy to say I scored our team's 3rd goal! I've played soccer competitively since the age of 4 and I'm a left winger. It was pretty fun to be out there. Our coach pulled us in at half time and said emphatically that we needed to calm things down as it didn't look good for the parliamentarians. To save face, we'd have to ease up. Even Jeannette Kagame said to me in a brief conversation we'd had on the field: "We need to make things a little more fair I think."
The second half started and I moved back to defense. I have to say it is very difficult to fake defending someone in soccer- I'm not Italian after all and diving away from people instead of tackling them doesn't come naturally :) I did, however, have great respect for the code of conduct in our play and did not want to offend any Rwandans let alone the president's wife! So, when Jeannette Kagame came lumbering down the field on a "breakaway" I did my best fake deke and kept ample space between her and I. She put the ball through my legs! I faked surprise and leaned away from her as she moved toward the net and scored. Then, they brought on a "ringer" in the form of a fourteen year old boy who had played in a previous match. Within minutes, the score was tied 3-3. Our coach called timeout and instructed us to start trying again. That boy was really really good! We were trying!! He was impossible to catch and the ball stayed glued to his feet a la Messi.
Last few minutes of play and we've swapped our players around and are now playing our little expat hearts out. It's fine to say it's charitable to make the score close but no way do we actually want to lose the game! The ringer/boy brings the ball up the field, pausing just outside the eighteen yard box. I am near him but to be honest can't quite catch him..and he takes a dive! The referee blows the whistle for a penalty shot for the parliamentarians. Jeannette Kagame steps up to the plate (cross-reference of sports analogies-oops) and puts the ball in the top right shelf of the net. The crowd goes nuts! We have played as best we can, they have won. Kagame's wife is the hero of the game. More pomp and circumstance follow as we take team photos and stay for the ceremony and trophy awarding.
TSN highlight of the night: the next evening the charity match is the top news story and though I do not have access to a television in Gitarama, a friend phones me to say that my goal was featured on the highlight reel.
Now, I have thousands of stories about my year in Rwanda- the Narcoleptic Nightguard, the Leaning Toilet of Pisa, Man-up-tree-throwing-rocks at unidentified-growling-animal-"Lost-style"-at-3am, Silverback Gorilla Porn and the Nairobi Airport Incident just to name a few. I enjoy telling them all, it will never get old.
Only recently did I part with the soccer jersey I wore during the match that day because it had become too tattered to keep. When I think back to the game, I can't see it ending any other way.

A vast, expansive beauty

Most people I've met who have been to Africa describe the same kind of feeling about living, working or visiting it. The people were so joyful! They had so little but seemed so happy! They lived for the moment! The scenery, wildlife, clothing, music and culture were phenomenal! I realize as I become the umpteenth person to write about my time here, my perspectives are probably not unique. How then, can I articulate the beauty? I am reminded of one of my students in Ireland, Charlotte Bowen, who floored me one day in class when I was giving a lesson on the Kingdom of God.
To preface this story, I need to say that 12 days after moving to Ireland in 2010 I found myself suddenly and shockingly on my own. Not unlike the nervous fear I experienced during the first few weeks in Rwanda-solo due to miscalculations which cannot see blog air time- I leaned heavily on my faith (and my friends) during this time. As almost instant proof of His love and abiding care, I found a place to live in Ireland and a job within 3 weeks and opted to stay. Whether this was out of pure stubbornness or foolishness or purposefulness remains to be seen. The job was teaching Religious Education at an all girls' private boarding school. I embraced it. So halfway through the year, during a lesson on false idols and evidence of God I asked the 2nd year students to draw images on the whiteboard of things they believed in, things they used to believe in and things they no longer believed in. The board soon became covered with pictures of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, the Cross, hearts for love, hands holding one another for friendship, etc. etc. As the board became full, I asked the girls to contemplate that if their parents had told them of Santa Claus and it had been disproven he existed as they passed the 7 years or 8 years of age mark, how could they choose to believe in something else which was unseen?
I asked several girls to draw images of what they felt the Kingdom of God looked like. We erased Santa Claus, we drew images of faith icons instead. I was sensing the lesson was resonating as we continued to discuss what we'd been told, what we'd been taught and what- as twelve and thirteen year olds- we could choose to believe for ourselves. Then, I asked the class, of all the images up here- which one best represents the Kingdom of God? The Cross? The Jesus Christ picture? The church drawing? Charlotte Bowen walked up to the board, took the whiteboard marker in her hand and confidently drew a circle around the entire perimeter of our drawings. "He is everywhere and in everything." she said. So true.
I think of that moment when I think of Rwanda and its' vast, expansive beauty. I know Thoreau talked about his time in nature being a religious experience and I know that minus the trappings of commercial consumerism we are face to face with pure humanity so that can feel spiritual too. Africa is a magical place, I wish more people had the courage to visit it and not necessarily for the purpose of humanitarian aid. I wish that people could step outside their bubbled words and visit a place where one has to live day to day because the future is not certain. And I hope that when they do, they can feel the strong connection to the metaphysical world that I do whenever I am here. In the spirit of Hebrews 11:1 that states: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Yes, Charlotte Bowen, the Kingdom of God is everywhere, in all things and it is our job to take the time and space to see it. In Rwanda it is everywhere.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Did you bring joy?

"Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. The first question was "Did you bring joy?" The second was "Did you find joy?"- Leo Buscaglia

*Unleashing a dozen balloons into my old neighbourhood and watching the kids play with them.
*Sitting down on the side of a dirt road with a bag full of bracelet making material and waiting as one by one children came out of their houses, sat down next to me, chose 2 colours each and watched as I showed them how to make a bracelet. "Nanje, nanje" means "and me....and me"
*Visiting the same street 3 days later and having a boy run up and say "Bracelet!"  and show me he's still wearing his bracelet.
*Bringing a home spa kit to Christi's house and having Christi, Louise and Bruno do mud mask facials with me. Listening to Bruno ask "when can my face be black again?" as we had opted to give him the strawberry sorbet rejuvenating facial mask. Admiring our glowing youthful skin the next morning :)
*Meeting Daniel, my former co-facilitator, on the side of the road near Rubobagoba and having him introduce me to 3 teachers who participated in our trainings in 2009. Having Daniel invite me to teach a game to his class. Showing the kids how to play 1,2,3 spin and watching them try it and laugh. Having his wife and children come to greet me and then trying to explain that Immaculee (who is 8 months pregnant) does not have to walk me back up the hill to the main road. Letting her walk me anyway because she wants to.
*Playing cards with Tom's family at dinner last night while we waited 3 hours for our meal to be made. Remembering different mzungu dinners, movie nights, parties at my old house and Canada Day celebrations with Tom wearing an American Flag t-shirt to antagonize me.
*Feeling lucky to have friends from other countries who share my passion for Rwanda.
*Seeing a parade of people just outside of Gisenyi town running down the street in full fancy dress and carrying an 8 by 10 photo of Jesus followed by a massive statue of Virgin Mary. Listening to them sing, watching them dance, feeling their joy.
*Leaving Christi's house last night by way of climbing over her wall because the guard had locked me in the compound. Laughing at the image I must've created to the passersby as the mzungu climbs over the wall. Laughing even harder as I sit straddling the wall and the absentee guard walks up the street, returning from his errand and shakes his head at me wondering what I was doing up there. Feeling justified as I climb all the way over and run off to join the others for dinner. (There's obviously more to this story but some other time...)
*Leaving Christi's house this morning to see a local boy wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. It reminded me of my first week in Rwanda in 2009 when I was on my own and saw a local with a similar shirt. Same effect of feeling reassured that we are not that different even though our worlds seem so far apart.
*Having friends (Tom and Christi) who indulge me by having a Pop Rocks eating contest at dinner and watching Christi win. She's invincible that girl!
*Being completely at peace with my decision to leave my job in 2008, spend two years volunteering in Africa, contribute to starting a charity and building a school, returning to Rwanda for a visit and feeling ready to move on with my life in Toronto.
God bless my friends here in Rwanda, God bless Tom and Ritah's marriage on Saturday and may God keep us all in a space where finding joy and bringing joy is so easily accessible.

Ufite Amazzi? Food, Language and Culture

My first few days in Rwanda, I practised the language a bit in my head in preparation for leaving the capital to visit the more rural areas. It is such a beautiful language, it rolls off the tongue quite nicely. I remember enough verbs to get by and I always find it quite fascinating when I travel to use gestures, facial expression and laughter to communicate with people.
As a culture, Rwandans tend to be quite guarded at first contact but then very warm, friendly and generous. Yesterday during the AziziLife experience visit- more to come on that later- I ate a meal with several artisans. We then helped to cultivate the land, fetched water from the well and learned how to make a Sisal bracelet. We wore traditional clothing and the lady that helped dress me was so sweet. When there is no language, the barrier becomes only how limited we are in expressing ourselves without words. A smile, a handshake, a hug, a raise of the eyebrows or even a wink work just as effectively as words. I like this about Rwanda. It only requires that you be honest and be authentically YOU.
You don't come to Rwanda for the food, that's for sure. I've been in Gitarama about a week now and I don't want to look at another potato for awhile. Or rice. The fruit is amazing- fresh avocado, papaya, pineapple, banana, etc. But other than rice, potato and goat brochettes, there is little else to eat as a main meal. Bread is a luxury item.The market is kinda fascinating, it hasn't changed a bit since four years ago. In fact, the same lady is sitting on the ground at the foot of the hill that leads up to the market; she has hobbled legs and sits there asking passersby for money. I can't image what that does to your spirit, living this way.
I would be remiss not to comment on the poverty here and the way that it impacts me. I am grateful that it was so easy to connect with neighbours and colleagues but I also know that it is likely that if I returned four more years from now, they would still be close-by. They don't have the means to travel. It's hard to look at dusty children. The first few people you see who are missing limbs is quite shocking but strangely enough, you then become acclimated. I struggle with seeing handicapped people beg at bus windows; this is probably related to having grown up with a handicapped brother. I see potential in what they can still do and I feel sad for them that they don't have support to realize this. And I also cannot fathom how awful it must've been to suffer such trauma. The man at the Gisenyi bus stop yesterday had visible stitches overlapping the flap where his elbow used to be. I shuddered to think of how it happened and who saved him. I also marvel at the women here. Three of the women we worked with yesterday were widows with multiple children. Their faces were smooth, youthful and there was no hint in their spirit of loss or trauma. It is remarkable because surely they have experienced great loss.
Culturally, it is different to be in an environment where there are so many machine guns present and to see prisoners being carted from the prison to their work detail and back. The mini-bus ride is not that different than riding the Dufferin bus- haha- in that we are all squished on. My ride back from Gisenyi was twice as long as it should have been because my driver was stopping to give messages to various people along the way. I decided near the 4th hour that I would bond with the boy beside me by sharing my iPOD. It was a great ice-breaker because after hours of winding roads, incredible views and squishy close contact- and having spent the entire day on my own speaking only kinyarwanda-- we were able to bond over "Jenny from the Block" (Jennifer Lopez) and Bob Marley tunes. We spent the last hour, as darkness fell and I was anxious to make it back to Gitarama, bopping our heads along and giving thumbs up signs to each other. It was neat.
Headsup tip if you are planning to visit Rwanda: always tap the toilet paper 3 times before using it to scare away anything that hides under there, be prepared for slippery pit latrines, daily power cuts, waiting several hours for your meal, being hugged by anyone under 10 at any time as you walk down the street, having dirty feet the entire time you are here and don't be surprised by the many many different variations on the flying beetle and the cute geckos that eat them for you.
Next blog: a weekend in Kibuye, teaching a lesson with Daniel in Rugobagoba and hopefully a wedding update as Tom's wedding is Saturday! I took one last walk down my old street, touching the gate to my old house. Noella and Thierry were there. I am cognizant that it is likely the last time I will be in Gitarama, for a while if not forever. I feel lucky to have lived here, lucky to have had my life be impacted by so many people and I am hopeful for their future. If Noella can come running down the path to give me a massive hug- as jubilant and cheerful as she was four years ago, with a wicked cackle of a grin-then let me imagine that her spirit will support her, let me imagine her growing up to be a mother, a teacher, an old lady. It's so much nicer to imagine a hopeful future for her. I'll post a picture of her soon. You'll see what I mean.
Food: excited for salads when I get home.
Language: the best interactions here are the ones without words.
Culture: i don't wear a watch, i wake up with the 4:25am call to prayer from the local mosque and i never feel lonely here.
Murakoze cyane Rwanda na imana ibahe umugisha to all my inshutis here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letting the light in

"Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen

Ten minutes ago, I was standing in front of my old house with 20 children, some balloons good friend Jean-Pierre. I'm kind of floating at the moment. It's been a weird and wonderful 48 hours in Gitarama. Let me try to capture it.
I met with my nightguard Emmanuel last night. I met his wife and heard about his 1 year old daughter. It was a very touching reunion where at one point he grabbed my arm, looked me firmly in the eye and said "Thank you, it's because of you that I have this life." I replied that it was because of God, not me, but the gesture and effusive nature of his comment was quite amazing. I do remember meeting him as a shy 22 year old who would not look me in the eye. I do remember the first 3-4 months when I tried to crack into that shyness by any means necessary which meant soccer games in the backyard, badminton, rocket balloons, Frisbee, Jenga and finally Art Club with the kids. I do remember walking down to Ecobank with him and being the source of encouragement as he set up his first bank account-ever. I thanked him also for helping me to set up in Gitarama and I referenced the first few months when I was alone in the house. He offered to walk me to my next stop and I let him. Just walking beside an old friend, feeling secure in their presence, is an amazing feeling.
Rwanda, as always, is full of high highs and low lows. Yesterday, I took a walk through the market, bought some fabric and took it to my seamstress near my old house. Turning down my path I was flooded with memories of the kids but the streets were empty. I anticipated atleast one or two of them running out but it was completely quiet. Then, a very quick stomping of feet came up behind me- (So...Rwandans don't really run)- and my protective instinct fired immediately (and appropriately) as I had an interaction with a man who was a little "off". He grabbed my arm, he wouldn't let go, he was yammering in kinyarwanda and I tried to take pieces of what he was saying and put them together in a coherent manner. I'd had 4 encounters like this in my previous time here- none of which saw blog air time. This time, although surprising and unpleasant, I didn't panic. I tried to greet him, I tried to reason with him, I firmly told him to let go and 3 times I tried to walk away and he followed. It's discouraging to have this be the first experience back on my familiar street! But after I shook him off, I walked to the seamstress and decided that one bad experience wasn't enough to freak me out. I think all of the training I've done with various martial arts this past year might've helped me with my confidence level.
I had fun explaining the skirt design to the seamstress with gestures and drawings. I left knowing I might end up with something completely different than I asked for but that's part of the fun. I met up with Moira, Ken, Annemiek, Tom and Christi and we had a nice meal. This morning, I walked the suitcase of donations up to the children's orphanage. I forgot how far it was! I think it took me over an hour to haul the suitcase up and along the way there was a steady parade of Rwandans coming and going from church and to work. Mama Arlene and I had a lovely visit, she has 17 babies in her care at the moment. It is so upsetting to hear about Jacob who was found abandonned in a ditch and Sarah who was left for dead and brought to Urukundo by police. It is a relief to know there is a place for police to bring them. And quite impressive to see Claudine- the little blind girl who weighed no more than a bag of rice when she was brought there in 2009. When I was here before she was non-communicative, wasn't walking and quite ill. She is now a curious girl with a beautiful smile. Her heart condition was fixed, her eyes are good enough for her to attend school although she is at a lower level developmentally than most girls her age. Mama and I fed the kids lunch and had a nice long heart to heart talk. The orphanage has a school, a farm, a skills centre where local women learn to sew and it continues to grow.
Finally, and most recently, I decided it was time for a second walk through my neighbourhood. (No way am I going to let a nasty interaction with a random get in the way of remembering the kids and the neighbours who were so sweet to me when I lived there.) I took a photo of Jean-Pierre with me and I literally walked from door to door and asked in battered kinyarwanda "Hehe?" "Ndshaka Jean-Pierre hano." The first 5 people I asked shook their heads. I saw other kids but none of my Art Club crew. I was a little discouraged and I stood in the centre of the road and said a quick prayer. Maybe they've moved on, maybe it's been four years and I'm not going to see any of them. Then....from the corner of my eye, I see Serge. He was one of the duo Serge and Thierry. He came over, shook my hand and when he recognized who I was went running back into the house screaming "Rebecca! Rebecca!" Soon, Thierry, Gloria, Angelique, Ivan and many more children came. I took out some balloons (yes to induce chaos) and started blowing them up and passing them around. There is literally nothing sweeter than watching a kid chase a balloon and laugh. Still, at this point nobody could tell me where Jean-Pierre was, even the Art Club crew. I was resigned to him being lost to me.
That was not God's plan.
In the midst of balloons, laughing kids, taking photos and soaking in the moment- he called my name and I turned to see a young man smiling at me. I think my heart just about burst out of my chest! We hugged, I told him I had a gift for him and he filled me in on his news. His father is fine. He is studying in Senior 2 level and his favorite class is biology. He invited me to watch his soccer game tomorrow in the stadium. I cannot believe that we were able to meet and I feel so so blessed to get to see him again. We left the group of kids- who had now grown to 40 and I definitely didn't have 40 balloons so an exit strategy is necessary at this point-and we walked toward the main road. He is no longer the 12 year old boy with one set of dusty clothes. He is a young man, fit from playing soccer and with a determination to speak to me in English. I'm so happy he is in school. I'm so happy he looks healthy. We walked to the main road and I realized that his little friend Fils was not among the group we'd just met. Fils was the one who stood in front of the umuganda group and told them he was not being cared for at home and did not have enough to eat. I remember that moment when such a young boy did such a brave thing and brought his most vulnerable moment before a crowd of his neighbours to ask for help. I asked where Fils was. Imagine this....just as I asked about him, Jean-Pierre turned and pointed down the street. There was Fils, walking with his school bag towards us. We took pictures, I'll upload them soon. Truly there is no sweeter moment than this for me- not seeing the school, not seeing my expat friends. I cared about these kids and they became my pseudo-family for a year. And now, four years later God decided the time was right for us to meet again.
When I first arrived I had a chat with my friend Christi about where my head and my heart were. I described it as being in a dark room and standing in front of a door that was open just a crack, letting in a sliver of light. I described that I was nervous to open the door all the way, I felt safer just letting a bit in at a time. It is a metaphor for protecting oneself from being hurt. But the brave person would just swing that door wide open and let their heart be flooded- and their spirit lifted- by the love being presented before them. God grant me the courage to be brave and let the light all the way in.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Receive Love. Give love. Repeat.

Receive love. Give love. Repeat. was written on a church sign at Bloor and Dufferin the week before I left Toronto. Since arriving in Rwanda, it's been holding up pretty well as a mantra.
Yesterday my friend Christi met me in Kigali and we took a bus out east to visit the RCP school. I'm happy to report that it is doing very well. In two years they have opened 4 classrooms- which is double what they predicted they could do-hired 5 teachers and are not currently in need of any new funding as they continue to be supported by organizations in Ireland and France. It was a treat to see a birthday ceremony, visit each class for the typical serenade of various English nursery rhymes and hymns by excited students and an honor to sit down with the staff to discuss how my school in Toronto can continue to build relationship with their school here. They received our package yesterday (?!) and there were pictures of my students on the wall of the office beside a Canadian flag. The top student of the class got the Raptors jersey we sent. And one little girl named Rebecca came up to shake my hand; we agreed it is an awesome name.
I was surprised to see Bosco- who used to work as a domestique in Kabarondo- and so pleased to see him proudly say he is now the secretary of the school. And it was nice to meet with Eric Platini, the Headteacher, who moved to Rwamagana to make the school his top priority. I remember leaving Rwanda in February 2010 and arriving in Dublin to find that the RCP's launch party was the next day. No time to gather my thoughts as we met the next day with 12 people at Kennedy's pub near Trinity College to share the idea for the RCP. For the next year, it was a passion project. We had a contest to name the school, we chose the logo, we bought a plot of land and we tried to relate Rwanda to our friends and families. I learned a lot about event planning, fundraising, using resources and connecting people. I think the highlight event was using AziziLife crafts made by a women's cooperative group in Gitarama to host a booth at a ChristianAid event in Dublin to raise funds for the RCP school project in Rwamagana. I wonder if the women in Rwanda who made the crafts know that they helped build a school in Rwamagana. A really lovely school with solid walls, a playground with swings and 6 very caring, engaging staff members. Altogether a beautiful morning!
I'm sure there will be more to say about the school visit but as I am now in Gitarama I'm going to switch my focus.
Last night I slept 14 hours! There is no way to articulate exactly what it feels like to be back in Rwanda. There is an ease about getting around because I know where I'm going. I remember (mostly) enough kinyarwanda to hold my own. (Although in my fatigue yesterday some German and some Spanish got mixed in when I chatted with the moto guy). Yes! I took a moto in Kigali! I toured around the capital, got rid of my molasses-legs- a combination of jetlag and altitude adjustments mean that the first few hours of being in Rwanda your legs don't work as they should. I got a reprimand from a local as I was busy taking pictures of a tree full of bats- yup, they'll be a photo of this it was intense- and as I wandered down the street this man stopped me. He told me what I was doing was wrong but didn't say why. He broke the all important 2 feet of personal space rule I have and after a bit of miscommunication, he finally tuned me into the fact that I was taking photos of THE PRESIDENTs HOUSE and I should really stop. oops.
Now I'm in Gitarama and I have met up with Ken and Moira for a melange at Tranquillite and a bit of a memory walk catching up on life and events since 2010. I got hug-tackled by a group of small children yesterday outside of Christi's gate. This has to be my favorite thing about Rwanda. It's like a love-bomb. The first kid spots you, points then giggles with eyes wide open and then the boldest one runs up and hugs you. Like full on squeezed! Then the other kids, encouraged by the bold one, do the same and I try my best to greet each one, ask them their names and not fall over or step on toes while I plan my escape route. Tomorrow is a holiday and the kids won't be at school. I think I will walk around my old neighbourhood tomorrow. I can't wait to see Gloria, Noella, Voisine, Fils, Francois and hopefully, HOPE-fully Jean-Pierre. I've already taken a Fanta with Cyriaque- the headteacher of my former model school and met with Procar- the man who has the shop I most frequented in Gitarama. Christi's housemate Louise and her son Bruno and I enjoyed making a craft together that I brought him as a gift and then when the girls were away, Bruno and I spent about an hour playing with a red balloon. I plan to visit Mama and the orphanage so I can give her the clothes that Gabriel sent with me. I am meeting Emmanuel, my former nightguard at 5pm today. Life is pretty sweet right now.
Receive love. Give love. Repeat.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Funny ha-ha's

*when crossing the street in a foreign country that's not England (where it's written in bold print: LOOK RIGHT!), it's important to find a local and mimick their crossing. Ie: let them step out first, especially near roundabouts, and then step out at the same time. Now...if they do a funny hop, skip and jump to avoid oncoming motorbike taxi driver, it doesn't mean you have to mimick this move. If you do....laugh at yourself. It's an appropriate reaction.
*am reading Sheryl Sandburg's book "Lean In" about women in the workforce and leadership. this morning I saw a Rwandan lady with a baby on her back and a briefcase in her hand. mat leave and "guilt management"...ya right! she was getting it done!
*two words: TREE TOMATOES! I had one for breakfast this morning. love that strange little is-it-a-fruit-is-it-a-vegetable.
*woke up to birds chirping, so awesome. tried to record the chirping on my phone to share with friends at home and birds stopped chirping. recorded 1 minute of dead air time. turned camera off. bird dive-bombed me and flew to nearest branch to resume chirping. this was at 5:30am local time
*had to resist urge to take moto last night. urge won this morning. first "miscommunication" of the trip led me to MTN centre instead of UTC centre and paid a little extra ($2 total) to get to right place. not whiteknuckling it this time. prior knowledge key and assurance that my moto guy doesn't want to wreck any more than i do.
* so many hills- every direction you turn is either walking up or walking down. great training for future "warrior dashes" and "tough mudders"
*Reminders of various memories here: meeting Bobby Scott and Jeremy Fokkens, having lunch with Catherine O'Heithir, going to the SportsCentre with Tina Hewing, swimming in Canadian Ambassador Bill McCarthy's Pool, lots of adventures with Karen Jacobsen including having doctor play Kenny Rogers "Islands in the Sun" before giving us the results of bloodwork for "do i have amoebas in my belly" test and the marriage proposal
CAN'T WAIT TO GO TO GITARAMA! I get the warm fuzzies when I think of Marie, Jean-Paul, Emmanuel and Procar. And I have been praying a lot about seeing Jean-Pierre (the boy who made me Christmas dinner) again.
*got AziziLife a hook-up at breakfast this morning as i met an expat girl at breakfast who wants to do the Azizi Tour next week.
*noticeable changes: bank machines, more cyclists and the VSO office is a laundromat now.
*noticeable non-changes: La Nouvelle Planete is still there, Ndoli convenience store is exactly the same and Beausejour....ah it feels so restful there. I am staying in the room 2 doors down from where I stayed for a month in April 2009.
I must go venture around Kigali now! Oh yeah....and I'm about the fastest walker here. Thanks Toronto ;)