I had another "interesting" day. I want to blog about it but don't want this in any way to reflect my opinions of VSO as I have met many wonderful employees and have felt very welcomed and appreciated. I know that my working relationships will survive these challenges and I am still feeling very positive about the whole thing. I imagine this is just a set of unfortunate circumstances? and look forward to the difficulties being minimized soon.
That disclaimer out of the way, here we go:
Went to the office at 9am, meeting didn't happen until 11am. Was told (incorrectly) that I have to pay for my household equipment myself, that my VISA app. is underway (it's not) and then it was suggested that I move into my house even though it does not have a solid roof.. and by the way you'll have no electricity- here is how you use a kerosene stove and charcoal. Bruce (another Education VSO) suggested I come to Gitarama today and he would take me on a school visit with him in the morning but I asked and was told to stay here in Kigali :( There were still no arrangements to take me into town so I hopped on a motobike myself with my large empty backpack. This time I kept my eyes open for the ride, my legs weren't jelly but I did vomit a little in my mouth :)
Went to the bank again- did not have 2 passport photos required. Called office. Oh yeah, come back and get them. Strike two with the setting up of the bank account. Went to a shop called Nakumatt which is the Wal-mart of Rwanda. Am considering once I'm in my house of spending some of my own money on a lazy-boy recliner I saw there. Maybe? Spent my household allowance on pots, pans and a pillow- all of which fit nicely in my large backpack. Walked on my own through the open market which unlike Ghana, has vendors but not overly aggressive ones. Random shops with random things. It was nice to get my bearings because though I had been there on Friday briefly, I couldn't have told you which way was up at that point. I did get hassled a fair bit but like I mentioned in my previous blog, once you establish a smile and hello, the tone of the interaction changes completely. I've come to think also that maybe because of my experiences with Mike, I am somewhat used to being stared at in public and it doesn't really bother me. I never once felt unsafe or threatened. With the altitude, I get worn out quickly and after 2 hours of walking- and no money to buy lunch, I hailed a mototaxi and returned to the office.
I think they were more than a little surprised that I had gone into town alone and returned with my supplies but I had insisted several times on a driver taking me and not gotten anywhere with the request. I feel better that I atleast have a pot for cooking so if I do end up having to go to my house very soon, I'll be able to cook something- assuming I don't blow myself up with the kerosene stove !
Now, the best news of the day is that a few emails I put in yesterday to the Country Director (who is in UK with newborn twins) and to my VSO boss (who is on assignment in Ethiopia) have been answered and I think some of these logistical nightmares will be dealt with tomorrow.
I am considering being firm about the house. Interestingly enough I was offered two choices:
A) Live at the Catholic Diocese in a one-room, the nuns will cook all my meals, I'll have a 6pm curfew and be allowed NO visitors or B) a 3-room house of my own with no electricity but I can hire a domestic to do my cooking, it has a fence around it but no roof. I seriously considered the nuns but I think those restrictions (of curfew and no visitors) will turn out to be quite limiting a few months from now when I have my routines established. I have thought seriously about insisting on electricity but am wondering if I should atleast give it a try without first? Any thoughts on this people? FYI: I had Mr. Noodles and an orange for dinner.