Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Something is in my Room

I’m still sick, which is quite unfortunate for my last week in Kigali. I even took my cold with me to Butare to do a cover letter training for my eager students. I’m exhausted and ill, but I’m taking the time out of my Nyquil trance to tell you a little story . I really did just cough then.

I have a HUGE fear of a certain insect. And there is currently one somewhere in my room. I came home exhausted the other night, open my door, a gecko thing sprung out at me, and I jumped. But they’re everywhere. They’re fine, except when I find them in my bed, but they just are so fast they scare me. So anyway – that was just the beginning. I turn on my light, look to my left and I saw it. Probably the size of my hand. I cringed, whimpered, cursed myself for living here and then texted all of my roommates, who, on a Friday night, were all out. Just me and the beast. I tried to kill it, but just couldn’t. And then, wanting more action, the gecko came back. How? Well as I walked to the bathroom he jumped down almost landing on my head and scurried back into my room and into a pair of jeans I had on the floor. I’m considering burning them.

Anyway. So then I decided to wait up for one of my roommate’s to get home. It was 12:30am, but I had drugged myself with unisom (as I do every single night, because I have to for various reasons). The fatigue washed over me, so I decided to make one more attempt. But he was gone. I assumed behind my dresser, but, not taking any chances, I locked myself into my mosquito net and passed out.

I woke up the next morning and just waited. Waited for the sound of one of my hungover roommates to wake up. The second I heard it I ran across the house – HI GET IN HERE HE’S STILL ALIVE. My very tired roommate (who we can all pretend is a girl if you all want) sauntered into my room to kill the mammoth that lurked there. Getting behind the dresser with my flashlight as I squealed from the corner, he couldn’t find it! Understanding my intense (and understandable) fear, he looked under my bed, on top of the dresser and in every corner of the room. But nope, nowhere to be seen. Now if I was in DC I would sleep in one of my roommate’s rooms or in Buffalo I’d make my mom or dad scour the room before insisting on sleeping in their room. Wait, how old are you again? A very mature 23. But I feel like that’s a little weird here, and I’m not sure I’m on that level with anyone – not to mention two of my roommates are engaged (to each other) so I’m not sure they’d appreciate me insisting on sleeping between them. Not that I’m above it in this situation. So now I’m locked in my mosquito net, just waiting.

In the middle of writing this my mosquito net fell on me for the 100th time, causing me to scream and whimper again because I’m sick . You may think I’m a huge baby or not rough enough, but I don’t care. You’re not living alone in Rwanda with a monster under your bed (or somewhere, maybe in my clothes). I’ve created a “safe zone” which is my mosquito net. I supplied it with water, my computer, phone, etc. I keep talking to myself about my “safe zone”. Like Saturday night, Nora don’t forget to put pajamas in the safe zone. I only go in and out of the safe zone now while in my room. But you know what? I only have one more week, so I can live on an island in the middle of my room…and I’ll try to stop talking to myself before I get back.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancing My Bleep Off

Now I know I went to Rwanda in fantastic shape, had to leave that running group of mine behind – you know that one that runs, in that place, by the thing-, but whoa. Ouch. I went out with my students this weekend, and holy crow I’m tired. We went to Cadillac, a Rwandan club, and tore up the dance floor. I feel old. Wonk.

I really wish I brought a bottle of water, because I was so dehydrated. We didn’t have time to actually drink alcohol, because I think I stayed on the dance floor for ohhh 2-3 hours straight (it’s also really expensive like NYC prices). It seemed like there was always someone with enough energy to whip me across the floor, and I just panted trying to keep up. The great thing for me is we went with a bunch of male students (don’t forget they’re all older than me; I’m not bringing teenagers out), so I was never without a dance partner. This was not the case for Tim, my fellow volunteer, who was attacked by Rwandan women, all pining away to dance with the kiwi. I left absolutely soaked in sweat, drenched as was everyone else.

The music was a mix of American rap and Rwandan music. Never slowing down. And neither did I! I’ve spent the entire Sunday in bed, only dragging myself out to hit up Bourbon with a fantastic travel writer! In sum: what is this? Am I getting old? It’s not even a hangover, it’s a danceover. And I don’t like it.

I’m seriously resting until next weekend (my last weekend in Kigali) because the boys are throwing me a going away dance party. I also came down with a cold because my frail body can’t take the temperature drop that happened in Kigali. I’m sitting in my bed with a huge blanket, in sweatpants and sweatshirt (obvi), scarf, and I just drank some hot tea. Aaaand it’s about 65. Pathetic.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Momma Problem

This one will tear at your heartstrings. The babies at the orphanage call me momma. Passing the tissues? It’s absolutely heartbreaking. They know I’m not their mother – I mean I do look a bit different; I mean I think they know (sidebar: sometimes they try to touch my eye because they’re blue – which hurts, and sometimes I let them touch my teeth, gross). But they’ll say momma this or that. I’ve become utterly attached to Mutessi, a little 2-3 year old girl. Little Mutessi is the sweetest little girl, and I honestly want to give up my DC life, move back to Buffalo and raise her (with my parents, obviously, hence the move – but I think know that all of you would secretly love that, because who doesn’t love a baby in this family?). Anyway, whoa just made up a little life for myself there. Job? What? Well this is a true test if my parents are reading this. Ready grandma and grandpa?

So charter that plane you all have on reserve to come get me, because I would give anything to take her home. Here’s the problem: the nuns don’t allow us to fundraise. So, for now, we’re been paying for everything we bring, which is fine since it’s not that expensive, and it’ll be even more fine when I have an actual salary and can send money to Rwanda. But, what’s going to happen in the future when all the volunteers that go with me now leave? We’ve been bringing bananas two days per week and last Sunday the sisters made us take a ginormous step back by saying we can’t bring them anymore. Then yesterday they let us (because we brought them anyway), but we just never know what mood the sisters will be in.

So that’s the problem readers. The sisters change their minds everyday, and we’re all going to leave soon. Suggestions PLEASE?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Giving Directions

Something you may not know about Rwanda is that there are no street signs. Luckily I live near a landmark, so I can tell motos to take me to the nearby hotel, and then direct them to my dirt road. Sometimes (most times) when I’m super lazy, I make them rumble over the gravel to take me literally to my door. But, come on, I’m already over-paying because I’m white, so I should get what I pay for! No one lives on a main road, and, even if they do, said main road isn’t labeled. Giving directions here is an art.

I stayed at my friend’s house a month or so ago, and she gave me directions by telling me to go to a main market, turn into a gas station that doesn’t look like a street, but it is a street, go left, walk straight, turn left again at the corn husks where little children yell “Good Morning” and walk uphill, go a little ways and you’re there. What? I made it though. That’s right.

Last weekend I got on a moto headed to the other volunteer’s house. They sort of live near a police station, past a main mosque. So I explained by saying “Go to la mosque, twende, a la policia station stop. Hano.” Soo…in total that’s what? 3-4 languages in there? So really, “Go to (English) la mosque (Spanish/French? Really, I just put LA in front of mosque), twende (Swahili), a la policia (Spanish) stop (English). Hano (Kinyarwanda).” I mean I don’t even know what language that all comes together as. And why I continue to speak Spanish here confuses me and everyone.

I am planning to go to South America next; unless I can make no winter 2011 in Burundi happen. But seriously, apparently I’m on the wrong continent and when did I get so good at Spanish?? No sé, pero necesito ir a South America. Adios!

*Don’t correct that if it’s wrong.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peanut butter in Rwanda

I had the most delightful peanut butter here. What’s that you say? Peanut butter in Rwanda? Oh yes. It’s fantastic. Probably because it’s not loaded with sugar and crap that the US piles into our food, but I really enjoy it. I impulsively bought a container of it at the store – sidebar: it’s really nice that my impulse buys here are $2 – and I haven’t been able to stop eating it. I’m half way through it!

Wow Nora you live such an exciting life that you’re blogging about peanut butter! I know. Oh, I know. My favorite part is probably the high tech label that comes on it:

It might sort of look like vomit, but it’s still great.

Do I sense some judgment? I may, or may not, have eaten almost all of it in one sitting, but get over it, move on, I have. And yes, my hand is that pale even though I live in Africa.

In sum, I’m running out of things to blog about, but a few more people said they read this bringing my grand total readership to about 5, maybe 7 if I’m being generous. I’m even putting more pictures in to make it seem longer or like this blog post might actually go somewhere or have anything to do with Rwanda, but alas, my friends, isn’t so. I’ll have a brainstorm, get my PR skills back in shape and come back with a great post next time. For now, enjoy my glutinous habits.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Madness in Rwanda

So I get it – it’s March Madness. I’ve seen it as everyone’s Facebook, Gchat, Twitter, Buzz status, and Georgetown has emailed me about a million times. On top of it, I’ve been invited to fill out no less than 10 brackets, which normally I would jump on – but I can’t read the news some days, let alone download a bracket.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been out of the country. In 2007, when Georgetown made it to the Final Four, I was lounging by the beach in Australia. I had to wake up at 7am and start drinking, after a night of drinking, in order to watch the games. So I know what it’s like to have to be at the beckon call of time change.

This time around, I’m in Africa. And, sort of sad that I don’t get to keep up with the Hoyas, I’m trying to avoid the whole madness (see what I did there?) Anywho, I got another email from Georgetown today, and, out of boredom, I opened it to see where the game watches are this year. And what did I discover? That Georgetown University, my proud school, has game watches in South America. WHAT? Yes, not one, but a couple, in South America. Rude. And racist. So enjoy it you South American travelers, not only can you wear shorts and dresses above the knee, but you can all crowd around a bottle of tequila to watch the games.

Furthermore, the email was titled “Join the Hoyas for an NCAA game watch near you!” Is it near me? Is it really? Because it seems to me that the closest location is about a 9 hour plane ride. Georgetown, as much as I love you, take your discriminating emails elsewhere, because this Hoya is in Africa.

And now this whole blog is irrelevant, because Georgetown just got knocked out of the tournament. I’m still posting it, because I took the time to write it - but Georgetown friends I understand if you don’t tune in, we all need a day of mourning.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Nora the Explorer Came to Be

This isn’t a Rwandan update at all, but I was just laughing to myself about it, so thought I’d share with the class. Probably everyone reading this has been asked by me, What should I call my blog? And some of you gave absolutely hilarious answers. A lot of these come from Meg’s fancy law school friends as well – shout out Emory Class of 2010. I’m only going to put the blog-appropriate suggestions, but enjoy:

Good Morning, Rwanda!

Nora vs. Wild

A Fish Called RWanda

Where in the World is Nora Leary

Where’s Nora

Rwanda Accord

Rwanda Civic

Finding Nora

Buffalo, Rwanda

Rwandan Buffalo Wings

Love in the Time of Malaria

African Nora Safari

Are you laughing yet? No? Well you should be. If you just thought of something even funnier (blogable or not), email me so I can have a laugh. Murakoze, Cyane!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Weekend in Burundi

I went to Burundi this weekend for a relaxing stay on the beach. To clarify, Burundi is a tiny country next to Rwanda, and Bujumbura is the capital – it’s on a lake and has a beach. This is going to be a longer post, because I’m going to explain my whole trip. So maybe go get a snack, an extra pillow, because this may take a while.

The ride started off…shaky. We boarded the bus at 8am, and set off for Burundi. The bus was flying around the curves! How fast? Fast enough that someone threw up in the isle. Oh yes friends, vomit in the isle. Luckily Rachel, my fellow traveler, and I were a couple seats back, so even though the vomit spread throughout the bus – and landed on some girl’s leg -, it didn’t reach us. But what did reach us? The urine. Someone peed in the isle after the vomit. Now, I would guess that the vomiter was also the uriner, but that remains unconfirmed at this time. Investigation still pending. The worst part: no one laughed. The two muzungus in the back of the bus almost added more urine to the aisle we were laughing so hard. I mean vomit and urine in the aisle for a 6 hour bus ride; how is that not funny? Actually at one point it wasn’t funny – I was really hot and bothered and I too had to go to the bathroom! Part of me really wanted to say what of it? I’m peeing in the aisle! But, I’m a lady - I went outside on the side of the road. After that, it was funny again. And giggle-mcgees we were until we reached Bujumbura. We hit the beach and then found dinner before meeting up with other friends visiting Bujumbura as well.

So there we were: 2 Americans, a Canadian and a Brit, ready for a night on the town. And what a fun town we chose. Bujumbura is known for its nightlife, lots of energy and partying. We jumped in a cab, heading to a local place where a taxi told us to go. We went to two clubs, one being a Havana Club, confusing since I was in Burundi…There are a lot of French people in Burundi, where a lot of people speak French. We met a couple UN people, locals and mucho primus. A 2am jaunt back to our motel, called Le Christmas Club (no joke), and that was that.

We spent all of Sunday lying on the beach, drinking primus and playing in the water – though watching out for Gustave – the 20 foot crocodile that lurks in the waters. Look past my incredible tan to see the amazing view I had:

I also went to the zoo/museum. Anyone who has been to the Bujumbura museum will probably sympathize with this experience. First, let’s discuss the leopard (or whatever it was). For sport, they feed him in front of you. Hoping it wouldn’t happen, I moved towards the crocodiles, but I heard it. The loud screams of a live guinea pig and the leopard trying to jump out of its cage to get it. For $2 you can feed it yourself. The guy threw it in, and I nauseously watched the leopard rip its hear off and devour it. Next we went into the snake pen, where our guide opened a cage and walked away. He opened a cobra cage. A cobra. I then screamed “RACHEL CLOSE THE CAGE, CLOSE THE CAGE!!” – because yes, I was already running outside. Rachel then closed the cage, but our guide opened it back up to poke the cobra. He poked the cobra. He might as well have poked a bear. It reared up and did its coil thingy, as I cried outside, wondering what un-caged animal was about to devour me. So thank you Buffalo Zoo for always keeping it modest.

We took helmetless motos everywhere, which I thought was fine – until a random woman and man came up to us and asked why we rode them with no fear. I guess Burundi drivers are notoriously bad. I’ve never been on a faster moto ride in my life, so I suppose I should have some fear, but I’m young and carefree, right?

Bujumbura has energy and life, and I really want ‘no winter 2011’ to be spent there. I can pretty much lay on the beach all day and go out all night – and, being 23, that is my ideal life. I’d also really learn French, so really it’s educational.

The way home was not as exciting as a vomit and urine filled bus, but I made it. Neither of us had coffee in the early morning, so we pretty much stayed silent the entire way. I’m wonked that I didn’t get a multiple entry visa, because I would definitely go back. But, I think Tanzania is calling my name next.

More pictures on Facebook – and yes, I’m still wearing my bathing suit in every single one - I wore it all day, to the zoo, to dinner; I would have slept in it if I wasn’t so badly sunburned. So get over it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

When the Water Runs Dry

Ironically, whenever it rains heavily, our water runs out. I’m not sure the 5 W’s or how, but whenever we get a big rain storm, the next morning it’s no showers, drinking water, or anything. I really don’t understand the mechanics of it, but as I’m in the rainy season, it’s happening a lot. It rains everyday, sometimes for a short while, sometimes all night, it depends. But running out of water while it rains? If anyone can explain this to me, that would be fantastic.

The thing is it’s not as bad as you think (though, for some of you reading this, it would be as bad as you think). Yes, not washing my face is annoying, but a couple days with not showering, or sometimes a bucket shower, not the end of the world. It cuts down on my morning routine, and, if my water is out, the other volunteer’s usually have no water either, so it’s not like I’m the gross one at work. I’ve also gotten used to my brown feet (from my dirt road) that simply cannot be cleaned and look like I used sunless tanner – I hope you all still accept me.

The only time it’s really inconvenient is when it goes out after I’ve been at the orphanage. The kids spit, sneeze, cough, use my shirt as a tissue, pee, etc. on me – actually, I’m pretty sure someone pooped on me last Wednesday - so a nice shower after that is preferable. But usually it’s a wonkadoo and a change of clothes after that and everyone around me dealing with the scent of urine. I swear I’m making friends.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Best Day Ever

I got a package from my mom! And it was grand! After having a ridiculous morning at the Burundi embassy, I walked into work to find a large parcel from a far off land. And what pray tell did it contain? SO MANY TREATS. How many? Enough that I’m really sick writing this. How sick? Really, really sick. Why? Because I have no self control. Don’t you always get sick from eating too much candy? Yes. Where did you learn this behavior? My mom’s side of the family – you know who you are.

I’m giving most of it away to people here and my guard and such. Because good grief I have no self control and ate way too much of it.

AND in another grand moment, I had a hand-written letter from Erin McCaffrey (college roommate, for those confused). Having been in Africa, Erin clearly knew how much it means to get heart-felt notes – and how long it takes to get here.

I am overly happy still, even after realizing wow my body CANNOT handle that much foreignness. Soooo I guess that’s a no to fast food when I get home…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Day in the Life of Nora the Explorer

So after talking to Meg for over half an hour the other night, spending the millions I’m worth, I realized I never let any of you know my day-to-day. So how about I take you all through a day in my new life? Would you like that?

I get up around 7:30-8:00am, which is fine because even with ear plugs it is so GD loud outside. There are some sort of pterodactyls and my guard making a raucous outside of my window. Oh yeah, I have a guard. I immediately make a cup of instant coffee before even talking to anyone. I shower (sometimes) then get dressed, nicely, and walk the 5-10 minutes to work, stopping at my local place to get bananas and bread for breakfast, using Kinyarwanda - jealous? No? Well it costs me about 30 cents. So - jealous?

At work I check email (gasp! So different) and upload these fantastic little blog posts. I chat with my coworkers about whatever is going on – all the Rwandan gossip - then get down to business. But first, we French press some Rwandan coffee so we can really get it going. Sometimes students come in and we work one-on-one with their CVs and/or cover letters. Other times, we do trainings on how to write a CV or cover letter. Other times, we are organizing internships, so I read over CVs and cover letters and short-list. Another task I’ve taken on, and this one is a real shocker, is social media for the organization, which keeps me pretty busy. Students come in and out of the office pretty frequently, so there is usually something going on.

Wednesdays and Sundays I go to the orphanage to see my babies – the nuns are letting me bring bananas this week! And at night, I either hang out with the other volunteers, get dinner and/or read – lots of reading. Since I have trouble falling asleep here for obvious reasons – I PRAY that someone sent me Tylenol PM -, I usually stay up pretty late reading and writing, until I am about to pass out – but not too tired to fashion my mosquito net around my bed, which I wake up to as a blanket. One time, when I was absolutely exhausted, the entire thing fell down on me (it’s supposed to hang from the ceiling), and too tired to care, I slept with the metal ring and net literally on top of me, rendering it useless and just really uncomfortable. And then today, I woke up and what did I see?? A mosquito in my face, literally cuddling me as I greeted the day. Soo yeah, apparently I can’t get those mechanics down.

Weekends I either work or travel, if I’m in Kigali I go out or meet up with friends. Travel is easy and cheap, so I’ve already been all around Rwanda…and outside Rwanda.

So that’s what I’m doing here pretty much. Questions? Concerns? Concerns that I don’t already know?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Will Smith is Here

And he keeps wearing skirts. There’s a little boy at the orphanage that is seriously Will Smith’s secret son. They are identical, well if Will Smith was a 3-4 year old Rwandan orphan. What’s fantastic is that Will Smith has taken a liking to me, essentially making me famous by association. However, sometimes Will Smith can be bad. Some days he politely sits next to me, only requiring my hand to play with or my one arm around him; but other days Will Smith is very, very bad. He’s been known to bite other children in an attempt for me to only hold or play with him, push and punch. It’s extremely difficult to say oya (No) the only word I can really use with them, because he is so freakin cute. All I can think is WWJD: What Would Jada Do?

The best part is, lately Will Smith has been boldly crossing gender lines. Now some of the little boys have been in dresses (I swear it’s not me dressing them), but Will Smith has taken to skirts. Last Wednesday he was in a pink skirt and pink top - very Miami – and the week before that it was a casual red skirt with light white off the shoulder top. This is all well and fine by me, as I’m all about knocking down gender stereotypes. But yesterday, Will Smith had on green shorts and a red t-shirt (…Merry Christmas). What?! Has he crossed back to the stereotypical boy? Well, before I got too disappointed, I looked down and he was wearing hot pink oversized crocs. Thata boy.

I just really wish the real Will Smith knew about this, so that he could come here and adopt his son. No one would even guess he was adopted! I’ve typed Will Smith so many times in this blog post that wouldn’t it be great if Will Smith saw it? Does anyone know Will Smith?

I would love to include a picture, but the sisters do not allow anyone to take pictures of the kids, and I do not want to cross them. So, while trying to get Men in Black out of your head, you will all just have to imagine little Will Smith in drag.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quick Note

This is just a quick side note for everyone. And by everyone, I really mean my family, who, among a few interested friends, are probably the only people that read this blog - because you all have to love me, even though I dropped the bomb I was moving to Rwanda on Thanksgiving, almost ruining the holiday for everyone and then threatened to bring back a baby. But it's family, right? So many of you (again, family members) have offered to send me packages, which is incredibly nice since it's such a long way! But, it takes about 6 weeks or so, and I'm only here for another month - so don't waste the postage, which I'm sure it outrageous!

But thank you for all of your messages and emails! This experience can be incredibly emotionally draining at times, so it really makes all the difference to get quick notes from all of you - really more than you know.

So everyone please exhale, I'll be home in a mere 4 weeks.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm Here, I'm White, Get Used to It

A lot of people ask me if I stick out here. Not that I think it’s a stupid question, but it has an easy answer: YES. The other day I walked all the way to work with a woman walking next to me, facing me whispering muzungu the entire way. Muzungu means white person or foreigner, but it can mean all types of people: American, European, Asian, etc. it’s a very broad term. If you’ve been around Eastern Africa, then you’ve been called a muzungu. Since it means foreigner, it doesn’t matter what you look like – if you’re not from around here, you’re a muzungu.

But yes, it gets incredibly tiring. For some reason last week was terrible. As you know I always allow my friends to diagnose me, and Rachel, my fellow volunteer, explained that I am experiencing delayed culture shock. It never bothered me before when children would yell to me, come up to me, shake my hand, I could deal with always having to haggle and knowing I was getting a higher price because I was white and I could even cope with hearing people say muzungu then something in Kinyarwanda, so I knew they were having a little conversation about me, though I was standing a foot away. Recently this happened at my local place (in the comfort of my neighborhood, where I can practice my Kinyarwanda openly) and I whipped around so fast to stare and shame them with a look that says what the f did you just say about me, yes I know that word, and I’m just going to keep looking at you. Harumph.

I think the Uganda trip gave me some relief, and I’m back to my tolerant self. In the end, it’s a pretty minor price to pay to get to be here. I sometimes have to take a step back and realize I’m haggling over twenty cents, even though it’s the principle! Rwandans are very friendly, and many people have helped my Kinyarwanda improve. I will never not stick out here, but I do get to be in an incredibly country with so much culture and interesting people.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take a Gander at Uganda

To get away from the big city life in Kigali, I took a trip to Uganda this weekend. I went to Lake Bunyonyi for a relaxing couple of days filled with hiking and canoeing…that’s right, outdoor activities for this sporty gal.

We got to the bus station around 11:15am, and what’s that?! A bus was leaving at 11:30am! After thoroughly discussing how lucky we were, our bus ended up leaving at 1:00pm. Over the border and into Uganda we went, rocking and rolling the entire way up and down mountains. We arrived in Uganda and immediately had no idea where we were. The easy thing about Uganda is people speak English. Which is good and bad, because in Rwanda I can have a conversation (I usually will talk really fast) in English and people don’t understand. But in Uganda, everyone can cut right into that private conversation. Sometimes I even talk to myself on the street in Kigali, but you’d just look crazy if you did that in Uganda.

Helmets are also not required on the motos, though they are introducing the law. This made the ride from Kabale to the lake the most insane ride of my life. It was very potholey and windy up and down a mountain with tears streaming down my face because of the wind, and the fear. When we arrived at our destination, the European owner had no idea that we made reservations and declared they were full for the night. Luckily we wrote down two numbers, so realized we had to go to one of the islands on the lake to sleep. We walked down the street and met Gad, our soon-to-be guide for the weekend. He offered to take us to this island in his dugout canoe – which we somehow thought was a better idea than the motorized boat. We climbed in, but this was no free ride! We were expected to paddle as well. When I say “we” I clearly don’t mean me. Let’s be real. I comically paddled for a minute and a half, while Tim rowed the entire half hour. And I’m sore.

This island is owned, or maybe owned I’m unsure on that story, by a New Yorker. It is a very European hostel, well maybe American but I’ve never stayed in an American hostel. Either way, we had 14 roommates! To my delight, as I tiredly climbed into bed, I realized the sheets were damp, probably not given enough time to dry. I tucked in my mosquito net anyway and drifted off to sleep – only to awake with a mighty cold. A cold in Africa?? Yepp, so stop complaining about the winter DC.

Gad came to get us in the morning for a canoeing adventure. We explained that we did not want to do anything touristy, so he took us to a village where his sister lived. One of the villagers offered to make us lunch, which I hesitantly and Tim readily accepted. On the menu: pork. After photo shoots with the village kids, we sat down to eat. Here’s how that went down:

Gad: Here you go, we have no forks

Tim: Do you have a spoon?

Gad: [blank stare]

Tim: I’ll get the wipes

The bowl that we both dug our fingers into was full of pork bits and cabbage. I early on decided not to even try to eat the pork, as my weak stomach wouldn’t allow that – and lord help us all if I get another parasite. And good thing since one of the pieces still had the hair from the pig’s snout on it. Repeat: the pig’s hair from its snout. After eating what could only have been a bug, I decided to stop trying to pull out cabbage bits and allow Tim and Gad to finish the meal.

We left, causing quite a stir in the village, though I’m sure you all thought we’d fit in here, and went back to camp, where we ended the night with some new friends – a couple Australians, a very typical American and Brit. Another night with 14 strangers, and we made the painful ride of three matatus back to Kigali. All in all, good, interesting, relaxing trip. I’m including a picture of the Ugandan children and me (I’m in the middle, in the blue shirt).