Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Posting from the Kigali airport

Up way too early this morning but got tons of work done. My reports are almost finalized and should be able to get those done while waiting around in the Brussels airport. Takes 10 hours to get there...arghhh. Going to miss various things here and especially love to hate the toilet at the IREX office. It has a toilet seat with a mind and motion of its own.

Heidi has been ill and is shortly off for a much needed vacation with her husband, Chris. So, hoping she gets well enough to enjoy every minute of her time with him. They have had a very rough time these past 18 months or so. So, good wishes are being sent across the ocean to you both.

Taking a lifetime to upload a photo...so will do that from home. Enjoyed the work and the people here and sosoosooso happy that I got to see Eddie, enjoy her home and meet Diana and Toni. Nice to make friends...and of course, they are now, "my people." We keep kidding because Eddie has "people" to help make her very busy life special. Diana and Toni helped me considerably and that isn't counting driving, shopping and chatting. And of course, in countries that are sometimes a bit inefficient or ineffective, it is nice to come home to vent with compatible "people." Wondering if Richard and Alex will be "my people?"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jesus Christ and Genocide....

It is Easter week and it seems appropriate to reflect on the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ, his death and the deaths of those who have died in horrific situations like genocide. Here is a picture of Jesus Christ, written across a roof top here in Kigali...lest we forget Him. This makes me smile...can you imagine code enforcement allowing the roof tops to be printed in a city with Jesus Christ? If it is done, I haven't seen it in the US.

The Genocide Museum is snuggled on the side of a hill, surrounded by greenery of all types. A beautiful reminder of how quickly the sublime can become dust.

There are 100 days of mourning for those who died here in 1994. The eternal flame is lit to commemorate this and will be lit here shortlyas we enter April. Elephants stand at the ready in each direction to warn and remind people of the atrocities and that we must be vigilant so that planned destruction of peoples will not happen again.
As I travel, I am asked how unique a country and the people are. And it is photos like this that remind me that we really are so very similar. These ladies are working in the gardens at the museum...check out their handmade brooms. Just like in Tajikistan, Honduras, Colombia and Kenya. Different colors, different sizes, different clothing and climates...we are the same. Jesus, I think has that covered, as well.
Now, just like in Honduras, grass is cut with machetes...except at Eddie's house where the gardener has a lawn mower!
And let me tell you what happens here when you have scared the guard at 3:45 a.m. I woke up at 3:30 a.m....worrying about work and Heidi, who is ill and excited to go home. At 3:45, I turned on the lights and in about 1 minute, the guard was peering in the window at me, waving as if to say, "are you OK in there?" I smiled and waved and he crossed his heart and walked calmly back to his station. I felt protected and watched over...oh, Jesus has that one covered also!! While you all sleep, I am off to work. See you all soon. Much love.


Close to the entrance of the Genocide Museum are mass graves and around the museum one can see flowers which have been left in honor of the dead. I am not sure why they are left all wrapped in plastic but these bundles were everywhere.

The graves are separated...families, children, men and women and the graves of concrete are surrounded by the living plants and trees from around the country. Out of death springs life.

I visited the Genocide Museum here in Kigali yesterday and moved emotionally and was very very impressed with the quality of their museum and dedication to those who lost their lives here in Rwanda during the genocide. The gardens are lovely and there is a garden of unity, division, reconciliation and protection. There are fountains and many many elephants and animal representations. Elephants represent long memory and this fellow has a cell phone to his ear and he is telling the world about the atrocities committed here in Rwanda and asking that all be aware...genocide is not new and it can happen again! Besides the mass graves there is a portion of this museum that reminds us of the genocide which occured in the Balkans, Namibia, the Holocaust, Cambodia and of course, here in Rwanda when the Hutus were killing the Tutsis.

Here is a portion of the wall remembering those who died by name. This wall is yet incomplete.

As I am writing about the horrors of genocide, I am listening to the bird chirping and watching the sunshine glisten off the greenery outside. God is good...out of ugliness grows beauty!

One cannot take photos inside the museum but there is a gorgeous stained glass window created by the son of a Holocaust victim that literally made me cry and I have been to Auschwitz and Dachau...hard to imagine the level of destruction these horrors have caused. Beatrice, our maid here in Eddie's house told me that she hid out during 1994 in the bushes with her oldest daughter.

I have been having issues with the blog the last couple of days so am not going to press my luck. More coming but going to post this so it actually uploads.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reading, Exploring and more...

This would be me holding up my leftover shrimp pasta in the "take away" container given to me at The New Cactus restaurant last night. We thought it a hoot. A huge hunk of aluminum foil but not foil like we have. This stuff stuck together...it didn't just close like ours does. For an old lady, not looking too bad...whadyathink??

On our travels on the way towards Lake Kivu we saw traffic signs just not seen closer in to Kigali. We saw one that said "Rappel" which we thought fun because we WERE in the mountains but it just meant that there were crazy hairpin turns ahead.
Diana persisted in driving like a crazy woman and at one point, Toni took Diana's camera because we were in heavy traffic and she was shooting a video of the street chaos while driving! I saw this colorful woman from afar...took her as she walked by but the front of her dress was much prettier. Note the landscaping nearby...this is not unusual. Gorgeous plants everywhere and in the mountains yesterday, we could smell eucalyptus in the air everywhere.

Again, these women were very suspicious as I tried to aim at the shops but I wanted photos of the colorful dresses many African women wear. When I go back to Kenya, I am going to get a wonderful outfit made for me. Typical street scene....note the paper bag. NO plastic here at all.

Oh, Toni and I checked out sanitary pads at Nakumatt...very small packages and hugely expensive which is why the woman is creating the women 's co-op to make them. I was told that the women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo...a few short hours from here are the workers. Men rest, drink and beat their women and the women are nothing better than pack mules, carrying water, wood and heavy construction materials. One of my drivrs told me this...I want to go see what the DRC is.

I took this photo outside of a construction site and what looked like an impromptu market on Sunday. I just put the camera out the car window and as you can see, folks were looking at us very strangely.

I brought four books with me that I will leave for Eddie's next guests and one I brought from home, worth mentioning was, "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" by Terry Ryan, and yes, I know this should be underlined, not in quotes! Another book I read, of Eddie's is called "Expat" a book about foreigners living abroad and their experiences trying to fit in and fit their experiences into who and what they were becoming. I could relate to many of those essays.

This bundle of wood secured high in the trees was rather interesting to us. Interesting because with thousands walking by and with no heat, one would think someone would take it...but not. And then, is this for shelter in the mountains if it gets horrid out?

The trip that almost was...

Diana, Toni and I took off a bit late today to head towards Lake Kivu, a few hours outside of Kigali. The weather was horrid...like Michelle says, "a grade A, grey day." Rained most of the day so all the photos are hazy but we drove through some gorgeous countryside. Rwanda is called the land of a 1,000 hills and today, we were definitely in the hills and later, the mountains. Steep, windy roads which were actually in very good repair for most of the trip.

We did not make it to Lake Kivu which is a good thing because we would not have made it home before dark. Dark people, in dark clothing on dark roads with vehicles that either use headlights OR tail lights...they never have or use both. As you can see, the river is incredibly muddy...red dirt everywhere and we have had some horrid storms so everything is full and running quickly. Interestingly, the roads and the drainage is incredibly well planned. I compared the systems to those found in Honduras and Honduras has a lot to do to catch up.

This country is going through "reconciliation" to try to mend the terrible rifts caused by the genocide which ended in 1994. It is not uncommon to see people in their 40's and 50's with no arms, legs, gashes in their heads where they were attacked, but survived. Almost no Rwandan has his/her whole family alive.

In April, the first two weeks will be dedicated to "mourning" and we passed this building and a couple of signs regarding genocide. The Hutus and Tutsis are now first and foremost, Rwandans. The country is working very hard to mend and I have asked various people about this and they genuinely believe that the government and even some of the radio stations and media companies have been instrumental in leading the charge. Tomorrow, I will visit the Genocide Museum and praying it doesn't affect me like Dachau did.

It was unclear if this is a museum or not. When we went by, the gates were closed and I hopped over a culvert on the way back to take this photo. Some guys were inside, as you can see, working to repair something. Almost fell into the rock lined deep culvert which was running with coursing water.

Took this photo on the way back into Kigali. This is a typical street scene...tons of people on foot and on the move. We noticed today that people walking miles over the mountains with bundles, water etc. had on flip flops, were bare foot or had on fake crocs. Toni, only here now for three days, was amazed at the little kids lying right next to the road watching the world walk or drive by.
Meet Toni on the left and Diana on the right. Both are housemates with me here at Eddie's house. We went out to an outdoor restaurant tonight...and for a change, it was a bit cool so we had jackets on for a change.

The weekend.....

Meet Bosco, our handyman, helper at IREX who was trying to feed the momma rabbit the carrot I brought in for her.
Our weekend ended up being totally lazy and somewhat decadent. We sat around and watched "Rescue Ink" for several hours...a show I had never seen before of these tough NYC toughs who are out saving and rescuing abused animals. Something interesting about these seriously tattooed hulks hugging tiny animals.
We went to see Shutter Island and about 1/2 hour into it, I leaned over and told Diana that we need to see a comedy or a love story...two weeks and we see this very very weird psycho movie and The Hurt Locker...both intense. During the movie, all hell broke loose and the sky opened and a deluge began. Heaven, the open air movie theatre/restaurant meant we had to huddle forward in our chairs. Diana was wrapped in a blankie that the staff passed out...lots of fun.
And to top off the evening, I was able to buy from the owner, a Primus beer glass, to take home for the beer glasses around the world collection. It had been suggested that I just steal one because I couldn't find one to buy, but was able to purchase this from Heaven for only $2. Now, to get it home.
It is Sunday morning and we were to be going off to Lake Kivu this morning. Almost 10 and no movement happening. Went for an early morning walk and no one was out...forgot that most folks are at church on Saturdays not Sundays. Diana turned TV on and Saturday cartoons are on today....kinda turned around here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quiet Saturday

This is the momma rabbit at IREX being fed a carrot I brought to work by Bosco...that is his arm! She and her family live in a cage behind the office. Very fun.

I may have mentioned that there is a national campaign against HIV/AIDS here and a push for family planning. The Rwandan personalities are all over billboards here holding up condoms and telling people to buy and use them. Very cool. Very progressive. Because it is community service day, Diana was able to park the car so we could take a photo of the poster. The roads are horridly packed so having no one on them today was a tad eerie.
Flowers in front of Eddie's house...no clue what they are but very pretty.

Diana, Toni and I went out to go get some money from the one ATM that works in town and get some groceries for the house. We had forgotten that today is community service day, mandated by law, to clean up the country, which is very, very clean. There were NO cars or motorcycles on the road and NO stores open. We couldn't get in to the ATM so ended up coming home.
We may go off to Lake Kivu tomorrow just to look around. We puttered around and I actually started to slowly pack my suitcase. Coming home soon. Can't wait to see my family and my friends. Making new friends here and have loved being in Eddie's home but also wishing she were here. Diana and Toni are good fun and they decided after staying in Diana's "cell" at KIST that they would enjoy the huge house here....and I am happy to have the company.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tidbits.....of nothing tied together!

Jesus Christ! Not a blasphemy, what is written across the top of a house roof as one approaches the bottom of the valley on the way to one of the main drags here. My driver yesterday took me a different way to the office than Dieudonne, the usual guy, goes. As we took a step decline I glanced up and saw "Jesus Christ!" atop this red roof. It looks like this was created with white shingles against red...or is painted in white. So, I am assuming this is the home of a Christian but with the ! after it, I began saying it with emphasis. Hmmmm.....

Yesterday there was a march for women's rights...the right for girls to attend school during their periods. I was advised to NOT go and didn't. Aren't YOU surprised? Andrea called to let me know that there is a woman here who is/has set up a women's co-operative where they will make pads for girls to use during their periods and these will be made out of recycled paper and recycled fabric from all of the small shops where clothing is made. Toni, Diana's partner, indicated she saw these items on sale at the store but they were very expensive. I think we are all going to Nakumatt, Rwanda's idea of Wal-Mart, and going to check out the prices. Apparently, girls have to stay home from school during this time of the month, missing out on education and often, a future. People are still using cloth to staunch the monthly flow...and consider how yucky that would be to hand wash all of that every month!

My driver yesterday called the office to let them know I wasn't ready. JP called me and told me the driver was waiting and I suggested that he was not at my house because I was waiting outside the gate and no one was around. He thought he might call the driver to see where he was exactly...in the meantime, I walked out into the road to scope things out. I could see a car down the road in front of another gate, so waved. My guy...wrong house.

And then, I got into the car which had its windshield super glued together and the car door was falling apart but the hole in the floor where my feet should sit had ME a bit unglued. We got to work and back home again but am hoping I will be back with Dieudonne and in the IREX vehicle on Monday.

The night guard left this morning at 6 a.m. and I had to wonder how he shuts the door after he leaves. There is a button to open the door in the shack but once outside, how does he manage? Maybe he has a clicker or something but there are different guys out there every night. Gotta figure this one out. I know you cannot shove it shut. There is a door within the door that I exit, using my keys which Eddie had made before she left. Oh, and there is an outside door in every room of this house with its own key. So, we go around opening up the house in the morning so we get fresh morning air...well, I do. Diana is sleeping!!

Pictures coming...I may have mentioned there are rabbits at the IREX office and I took some carrots in for them the other day. Bosco, the gardner and handy man there is in charge of these guys. The gate was open as I left yesterday and I worried that mommy rabbit would leave. Bosco assured me that she knows where her food is and wouldn't venture out. Hope so.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Odds and Ends.....Corruption!!

This little guy made me jump! We got to where the vervet monkeys were settled and hopped out of the car and yours truly forgot just how smart monkeys are. Within a minute, this guy was going for MY open door. We had food in the car and he was on his way in when I ran towards him and scared him off. Eddie would have had heart failure to learn that this guy got inside and "marked" his territory with urine.
Kristin can tell you about Costa Rican monkeys peeing down from above to let folks know...this is MY place.

This is absolutely my favorite photo I have taken looking over Lake Ihema and into Tanzania. I want to go there!!
Look very closely...these are huge thorns sticking up and very, very sharp. The giraffes eat around these and eat the green leaves, leaving the thorns in place.

The house below is not exceptionally poor or awful. Just a normal sighting around here.
Clothing are on lines to dry or on bushes...whatever is close and works. And the animals are housed in this case, right next to the regular home. Shelter is difficult. Cleanliness is impossible. Bathing irregular but clothing is well tended and always spotless. I cannot figure out how they get the red dirt/clay out of their white clothing....but they do.
Today, I was accused of being corrupt by two of the news media who were not selected to continue on in the grant process with IREX. I have never been accused of this and most likely will not sleep tonight. The natives say this is just an excuse and not to be concerned and Louise defended the process and my honor but I am terribly concerned that someone thinks I am in the US Government's pocket. Makes me crazy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Diana...my friend

I haven't done justice to my newly budding friendship with Diana, who is on faculty at VSU and a Fulbright Scholar teaching here in Kigali. I want to properly introduce her to you all. She is quite humorous and has a quirky sense of self. Take a look at how she has mounted her African art in what she fondly calls her "cell" at KIST where she teaches math. Her cell is actually two full rooms:one bathroom and her bedroom which also serves as desk area and kitchen. Fortunately, she is also friends with my friend Eddie who has generously shared her home with us both.
Diana actually would get along super well with Richard...both prefer duct tape to other methods of fixing, attaching, and framing items. By the way, this is a painting done on fabric. When I suggested a frame, she mentioned the walls are cement. They do have cement nails or maybe a frame hanging on a nail might work??
Tonight we went out to dinner at Heaven, where we saw The Hurt Locker a week or so ago. We went out because today is Beatrice, the maid's day off and we had nothing prepared....pobrecitas! Tonight was not a movie night so we just ordered dinner. We sat in the open air restaurant and the fun for the evening was that it was a bit chilly for Rwanda. So, the waiter brought over a pile of blankets and asked if we wanted one? He thought we might be chilly. Never been asked if I would like a blanket while eating dinner. We had fun with that one.
Lunch today was a soup that Beatrice made and which I took into the office for my meal. Diana had the same thing and both of us found that about five minutes after eating the soup...we were looking for more food. We left the house at 5 in search of dinner...felt like old folks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More photos and whatnot!!

This vervet photo was taken by Diana and note his blue balls. They really are blue but I didn't get a good shot of that part of their anatomy. She is a way better photographer than I am. And I am acclimating to the daily process of living in Eddie's home. Today at 5:15 a.m., as I drew water to make coffee, a man's head appeared in the window and for the first time, I didn't flinch, yelp or anything. Just greeted the guard with a "bonjour" and he smiled. Two days ago, I spilled my coffee when the guard appeared in front of me. Sometimes, I can hear the guard crunching on the gravel but other times, there is this surprise. Just don't expect a face looking in my window.

Talked last night with my Aunt who is in a nursing home in Huntsville, Alabama and she was totally enthralled that I was calling her from Africa. She spent about 5 minutes trying to figure out how I could talk into my computer and end up on her phone. We had lots of laughs.

Meeting with all of the seven media groups that we will continue working with over the next few days. Was trying to upload some more photos this morning and it is taking a lifetime. Will do so this evening.

Monday, March 22, 2010

More about Akagera.....

When we were at Akagera we saw the most interesting animals...these ducks are actually a golden brown color. Maybe they are geese but they were very unusual and pretty...hence, the photo. No reason, just shot over a hundred photos and the first time I have ever done this. And this Nile Monitor Lizard, maybe four feet in length sauntered by and upset the birds. You can see the bird to the right fluffing her wings out and as the lizard closed in the birds would display their colors, the breadth of their wing spans and hop about. They were unamused.

Hippos keeping cool during the hot afternoon in Lake Ihema.
These guys are gorgeous and are Topi. Their coloring is lovely, with black on the fronts of their heads and then, as you can see on their thighs down to their lower legs. Again, my photography does not do them justice. Their lower legs are a golden color.

And Diana or Adrienne thought these are called pom pom flowers....pretty. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying all things flowering and even spent time looking at and avoiding the acacia thorns. There are a variety of types of acacia which are eaten by the giraffes. Somehow they can eat the leaves and eat around the thorns that are a couple of inches long and spiky...as in, you best have your arms inside the windows or you will rip them to pieces.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On the way to Akagera

This is a typical home in the countryside. Note the wash hanging and the black animals reclining next to the house, near the wash is very typical. In some cases, you can see the animals actually entering the home. The munchkin to the left was one who waved at us...as the four of us drove by children, they would wave and laugh at us and ask for money. We waved at everyone and I was wishing I had brought bags of candy to pass out like I did in Kenya.
Another typical house below...screens are pretty much non-existent here and of course, malaria, yellow fever and more are prevalent. The photo was shot with an eye to the woman carrying her water jug but I needed to be discreet so you get the mirror from the car. Every day people here take their empty jugs, in some cases, walking for miles, to refill them. Many carry the jugs on bikes, many atop their head, like this woman. My driver told me when kids get to the age of six, they begin working and we saw many a small child lugging one or two of these yellow plastic jugs up or down hills. Living here is quite difficult. And the red dirt makes everything just coated and crusted with filth.

Check out the dirt...when we were in Akagera, as we drove through on the tracks, we passed through this typical red dirt, then into a white and then, a brown. Changed with the environment...had palm trees in one area and cactus in another.
Eddie's poor car turned red from the dirt. The gardener here at the house will wash it so it will return to its normally healthy greyish color.

Akagera Game Park, Rwanda

Today was a wonderful adventure which found us at the mercy of Diana, driving Eddie's vehicle. She actually did very well given that there were three adults trying to guide her. Let's just say, it isn't easy driving here and the trip home, in the dark had us "clenching our buttocks" more than once. Consider, dark people and dark goats walking on unlight roads in droves with cars, buses and motorcycles bumper to bumper without either head lights or tail lights...sometimes, without both. Diana deserves an award!!
So, Akagera is about 2.5 hours from Kigali and though it started slowly with the animals all in hiding, we were able to see quite a few varieties of birds, animals, insects, flowers and vermin!! This flowering tree looks over Lake Ihema, which means tent in Kinyarwanda. And this scene looks out over the lake and into Tanzania. We ended our day here at a hotel where we had french fries and a coke before heading back to town. The flowering trees, plants and shrubs were lovely.

These guys are wart hogs on the run. We saw many today and I hadn't seen them in Kenya. The day started out overcast which is why no early animal sightings, I think. Later, as it warmed up, the animals came out in droves.

This is our travel group...Diana Perdue is nexxt to me and Adrienne Wootters and her husband, Bill accompanied us. Adrienne is a Physics prof and so is Bill. They live in the same guest house as Diana and Adrienne is also here on a Fulbright. Again, this is looking out over Lake Ihema.

More wart hogs that have just had been wallowing in mud baths. They apparently have ticks and like the mud. Huge animals...kinda look like cartoon characters, sayeth Adrienne.

These are baboons below and yes, I can see that this is now underlined. NO clue how to stop this but hoping it goes away shortly. Black you would like...we shall see. The baboons (and yes, I see I now have black) were very cool. They are huge and sorry my photography skills are so limited. More tomorrow. They sat, drank and groomed themselves and each other at teh watering hole.

This is a Masai Giraffe and for those of you who have been following my adventures, this guy has a totally different look from those I saw in Kenya. Apparently, those are reticulated giraffe.

These colorful birds are weaver birds and they weave these nests which are in the shape of a ball. They enter through the hole in the bottom and the nests are filled with seaweed or ferns...something green.
The day was filled with adventures, sights to see and fun conversation. More tomorrow.

A Franklin bird...in Akagera.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wandering and Pondering

On the way to Radio Izuba, I saw many a family activity that one just won't see in the U.S. And I spent time talking with my driver about how amazing some of these sightings are because, though normal to Rwandans, just isn't done. This man, and I saw many others, was walking his goats on a leash of rope. At times, you would see folks holding the goat while it grazed but just as often, like this guy, they were walking down the road with goats. No one has dogs here...my driver said it is just one more mouth to feed. When I mentioned we walk our dogs...he laughed. Now, this photo caused a bit of a ruckus...this guy is walking into a military installation and I shot the photo not knowing what this place was...and of course, it is illegal to take photos here. Driver floored vehicle...Teresa yelped!

Also, it is quite normal to see unattended kids, 2, 3, 4, 5 sitting in the road, beside the road, playing soccer and oblivious to the world, the vehicles etc. They tie the goats up but the kids run free and unattended.

Not uncommon to see young men holding hands walking down the street....I was told, "they aren't gay." I didn't think they were but men are comfortable showing affection here. Like that.

Also, yesterday was market day and consequently, one saw whole families walking together. Think about the last time you saw munchkins, teen agers, the mom and dad walking somewhere together. We walk and often together, but the whole family unit? Saw this again last night...families on the move, together.

My driver was very accomodating and stopped at the local market so I could experience that.

I met this young man there and he jerked away when I took his photo because I wouldn't pay him. He and many others had live animals for sale. One guy had a goat on a bike; another chickens, another a huge grey rabbit squirming and held by a rope around its neck.

In the first photo, check out the young girl's purple fancy dress. Saturday is market day in this community but also family wedding day. She had somewhere special to go. And the brightly colored women's dresses are fun...check out the mother with baby strapped to her back. I want to get a lesson in how that is done to guarantee the kid doesn't fall.
Do new mom's make mistakes??
And notice the shortly cropped hair on everyone. Cleanliness is a huge issue. Very few have running water in their homes and keeping full hair clean and without lice and other vermin is difficult. Hence, shaved heads for boys, girls and even men and women.

Amazing happenings.....

Now this is a pretty bad photo but look right and left of the solid wall to see hanging beads. See the red light?? Well, behind those beads could sit...a couple or a small group having an intimate dinner at Stella's VIP. Now this restaurant is so dark, Diana had to use her cell phone to highlight the menu.

At Stella's...Vidost, the Rector of the math department at KIST, a Technology University here in Kigali, Diana a Virginia State University math professor and Fulbright Scholar and Faustin, a KIST faculty member and I enjoying a dinner out on the town,
What you cannot see is that Vidost is about a foot away from a sink that is on the back wall just to his right. Dinner was a tad unusual...we ordered chicken and it came with NO meat on the bones. We ordered two half chickens but just bones and sinew arrived! The thigh meat was gone but the bones were all hooked together and grilled. We ate the best french fries ever and apparently, french fries are served at every meal here. Guess so...super delicious. Vidost ordered a salad and what appeared was a whole plate of thinly sliced onions completely covering the plate. Tried them...tasted like onions. He single handedly ate most of them.

This photo of some city housing was taken out of a media company's window. You can see the small housing and the laundry hanging. Primus is a local beer and their signage is everywhere.

I asked really important questions at dinner with Vidost and Faustin. I wanted to know about the sounds Rwandans make when they converse. There is a whole language of sounds woven into the spoken conversation that I find fascinating. There is a spitting type sound, which means, "I do not agree with you." Another that is made to get folks to continue the conversation; another that is an agreement sound and one that kinda sounds like, "tssss" in combo with a hand motion that one uses to get attention. These sounds are just so common that the people don't even notice it...and women do the same but with a different tone.
While I was out with the driver and on my way to a meeting at a media house, we started to turn left and the vehicle in front of us slammed into reverse and the mototaxi veered quickly right. What happened was a near horrid collision with President Kagame's convoy. They quickly crested the hill coming towards us with lights flashing and going about 70 mph. Kagame was at the wheel of his SUV and was waving at the people he had almost run over. Six vehicles, six seconds. Dieudonne and I were hyperventilating. Apparently this happens quite regularly. Think about that...Obama driving himself around town in a convoy????

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More odds and ends.....

Today began the one on one work with the radio and newspaper groups I am to be targeting for the development of super wonderful strategic plans. Now, we were to work with 3-4 and have now decided that I should work with 7. Not so sure how I can accomplish that and get everything done by the 30th of March. We shall see. Went to Radio Flash today...bright group of folks and an interesting afternoon.
These guys are hugs...photo not so good, sorry. They come out at dusk and saw them at the office yesterday. They look for whatever in the grass and then, begin flying, en masse.

Here they are atop a nearby tree. Again, hard to get the perspective. I asked every one of the office staff and they didn't know what type of bird these are but I am betting some type of vulture.
I was asked by my driver what I learned today and I told Dieudonne that I learned to swear in Kinyarwanda. He asked what I learned and I said, "askyiii" and he about doubled over. First, women don't swear here and this means shit...or I am pissed and the more iiiii's one puts into the word, the more pissed one is. Anyway, I told him that I wouldn't swear here but wouldn't it be fun to just pull this word out in say, Colombia? I would feel better and no one would even know what I was saying!! He was dying laughing.
And then, Rwandans have to work one Saturday, a planned and posted Saturday, for four hours cleaning up their country. The Saturday after next is the community service day, also called Umuganda, so not real sure what I will do that morning. I suggested I might also go work and the folks in the office laughed. Speaking of which, when I asked to learn some swear words, John Pierre was very embarrassed and wouldn't tell me any. Anastas gave me my swear word but turned purple!!
Had an issue this morning....after the storms, I noticed that something was running constantly. Got showered and dressed...still running so went outside to see what was what. The water heater was spewing water out of the top, and keep in mind, water is priceless here. So, called the Embassy folks to have them come see what was up and first question asked...where do you live? What sector of town? Don't know, said I. So, I narrowed it down in terms of other agencies nearby and the guy on the phone figured out where I am. There is no house number, nor is there a street address...like Tegucigalpa. So, the water heater got fixed and all is right in my life for now.