Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Karibou (car-e-boo) means "welcome" in Kinyarwanda and Sawa, means, "sure." Slowly picking up some words and I am actually beginning to understand the gist of some conversations which are conducted in French. The last official language here was French. The government, literally over night, changed the official language to English. Think teaching school...texts in French, teachers fluent in the language and overnight, a whole country begins to learn another language. Think what would happen in the US if the government said the official language would be Spanish on Monday! Funny.
I just finished reading Mudbound, which is a wonderfully sad and emotionally wrenching book about the South, race relations, how we treat/ed our returning military and more. I highly recommend it! Now, reading a book by a Tanzanian woman who lived here in Kigali and wrote a book called Baking Cakes in Kigali. If you want to get a very good flavor for how things are done here...read this one by Gaile Parkin.
Eddie and I have been fascinated by the huge retaining walls being built around the city. Photos coming when I learn how to upload from her camera to my computer. Groups of men are in the streets with huge piles of mammoth boulders and they hack and chop at these to make stones which will be set into the side of the hill. NO jack hammers. No machines...just hours and hours of back breaking work.
Flat Stanley, now renamed, Bite (Bit-A) and I have been very busy. While outside of the city, I cannot take photos of him with people...a bit shy and a bit nervous about folks stopping to shoot photos. Today, we went to Skol, a beer company and they are located way outside of town on the worst road ever...and we pull up to an actual building that looks like it would be perfectly situated in the USA or in Europe. NOT the typical building here. I accompanied one of the Blink Magazine guys on a couple of sales calls...it was a learning experience for Andrea (yup, HIS name is spelled this way but pronounced, Andre). Bedtime...photos tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Another friend asked that I post a comment on my Facebook page indicating where, "I do it." Now, I put that "I do it on the kitchen counter." However, this is something that has to do with breast cancer awareness and the women in the know, know what is going on. My 20 year old son has sent me at least three Facebook messages and four or five email regarding "how uncomfortable" he is with my sexual statement. Tried to explain but I will be a better mother and make sure he/they have NO indication that someone my age might actually think periodically about sex. Forget doing it...just thinking about it makes him crawl.
And then, last night, I went out with a fun group of people, some Rwandan, some my age and some younger to a Quiz Night. This was incredibly fun and we debated questions on into the day today. One question: who created the parachute? Another: Who assassinated Archduke Ferdinand? And just how many continents are there? The Anglophones thought 7 and the Francophones, five. Proof arrived in my inbox early this morning from one of my colleagues. A fun evening with a group of people who were opinionated, experienced and resourceful. Had a great eggplan parmigiana with a couple glasses of wine and about four hours of laughing and learning.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Morning here and didn't sleep too well. We were at dinner at a friend's home and when I got back to Eddie's house, I found that I had somehow lost her house and gate keys. I cannot leave without locking the house, and the gate to get out of the compound must be opened or closed with the key. The gate is a huge metal affair that opens with a clicker OR a gate key. Lost mine. So, going to the health club with Eddie...praying I locate the one I lost. She isn't sure and I have no clue how we can make/obtain another set. Arghhhhh...been ages since I lost a key. Oh, and I left my camera at Ginny's. She is the woman who put her own car carrier on top of her SUV and she had spent this past weekend canning and putting up spaghetti sauce.
Do scroll down to see yesterday's photos.
At the art studio, we saw some young Rwandan kids practicing their dance routines outside. Boys were drumming, the young man in the blue shirt was dancing with his wooden spear and shield and there were a row of young kids sitting near by chanting a son. The young men who are owners of Ivuka Arts are also artists and sponsor groups like this to encourage young creative children to participate in the arts. Very impressive art and young men.
Travelling here is way easier than in Honduras. We pulled up behind this group and just had to show you how group travel, Rwandan style is often handled. There were at least 20 young men in the back of this Toyota pick up. Sadly, we couldn't pass to get a front shot but had to love it.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Went out with Eddie and a few other folks to dinner at Zaffron, an Indian restaurant here in Kigali. Very inexpensive and delicious. We ordered five dishes, some vegetarian and some meat and shared. Yummy. Eddie's home is in the section of town called Kacyiru (Ka-chee-ru) and is very lovely indeed. All walled, gated compounds with lots of flowers, chirping birds and most recently, Eddie had a civet hanging around the yard. He appears to be gone...would have loved to see that.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I thought about it for a moment, and asked two of the men I work with here what that word meant in Kinyarwanda, their local language, saying the word carefully. Both laughed and said, "niggah, like you use." We talked about it a bit and they indicated that they were offended by the word painted on the bus but said it is used widely here but only between good friends. Both said I could NOT say that. NO problem. I wouldn't!
Now, if it is that bad, and not publically used, how can one paint it in letters a foot high across the front of a vehicle? They thought that I would ask that rather funny. You see, Rwandans think we Americans have "freedom of speech." Consider what the impact of something like that written on a bus in a capitol city in the United States and the ramifications. Wouldn't that cause a riot? HMMMMM????
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Woke up every two hours last night...just hearing an absence of noises that I am used to and hearing new ones that I, again must become comfortable with. Power issues last night and internet connectivity issues but all eventually resolved nicely. Woke up to roosters crowing and some animal caterwaling about who knows what...maybe mating season or something.
Off to the office shortly and looking forward to re-connecting with the five media teams I worked with earlier. It will be very interesting to see how far they have advanced since last I was here. All should have completed their marketing surveys which we worked on last time.
Oh, and today, I must find some adventures for "Flat Stanley" who has travelled with me to Kigali. I anticipate that he will be adorned soon in African garb and will be playing some African music for the kids in Madison, Alabama who sent him to me.
More soon....oh, and there was a lady sitting behind me from Brussels to Kigali and a man joined her half way through the trip. They babbled on and on but I was smiling as I heard their use of "ehhhhh" a sound that works for "OK, what more?, and, sure and neat." Memories.
I also sat across the aisle from a family consisting of mom, dad and two kids, maybe five and three. I groaned thinking of a ten hour flight with munchkins crying, whining, yattering and these kids were the best behaved children and the most inquisitive. NOT one whine...but many, many questions like, "what is the difference between air and space?" The little boy had asked if we were in space or not. His mom suggested we were in the air. Which led to his very intelligent question about the difference...she stuttered, groaned and daddy answered quite sweetly.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Heidi and I took Chase to school this morning and the conversation on the ride was over inappropriate behavior on the playground. What CAN a five year old do wrong, one might ask? Well, Chase and his best friend, Elizabeth are kissing on the playground and that is just not to be done. Heidi suggested he might do that at home, if needed and Chase thought that might be a bit embarrassing. NOT embarrassing to kiss on the playground? Elizabeth's mom, Sarah, also told us yesterday that she would have that same conversation at her house. Wouldn't it be fun to get a note home from the kindergarten teacher indicating your five year old was involved in such activities. I mean, does that go in your school record?
Sunday, September 19, 2010
The young lady on the left is Kenz, my grandaughter and a best friend, Jenna. They shared their dinners with Stanley and do note Kenz' World Cup t-shirt. She is getting a new one that isn't a knock off and which came directly from S. Africa and the games. Will get those when I get to Rwanda.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Another view of the Mississippi from the car. Gorgeous scenery. Oh, we found out that the big corn we took a photo of the other day in Rochester is a water tower, connected to the Seneca canning factory, where the Libby brand vegetables are canned.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I had hoped to get up to see my cousin, Lance and his family this weekend but we decided to just head on home. Emotionally and, for Heidi, physically draining experience. We are both exhausted but very very hopeful. And so...we hit the road and will look forward to our return here to the Mayo Clinic in November.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
And we met Laura, a woman with symptoms that mimic Heidi's in many ways. She has a brain tumor and is facing possible brain surgery and the tumor is located in a section of her brain that could erase all speech and memory. She has four children and is trying to imagine waking up from a surgery where she wouldn't recognize or remember her husband or her kids. Heidi and I are meeting people who are in worse shape and handling these situations with humor, tears and a level of cheerfulness that we have to admire.
And then, we met "Big John." Big John was a huge man in a wheelchair, wearing sunglasses and trying very hard to hit on pretty young women. He finally made it over to Heidi and sucked up to her....she mentioned that she is happily married (note the huge rock on her finger!) with three kids. Big John has a last name but he had asked the desk secretary to notify the staff that they were not to use his last name....they could call him Big John and they did call for him to go for his test this way!
We heard one young man who had just finished his EMG talking to his father. Dad asked how it went and the young man indicated he had puked his guts out...worse than chemo. Heidi was going in for that test in a half hour. Guy looked pale and wiped out.
Another young man was asked to go in for his test and he was holding his dad's hand (kid was about 16). The nurse looked at him and asked if he would like his father to accompany him and the young man said, "pleeeassseee." It was the longest, most heartfelt word I have ever heard and filled with so much emotion...I teared up which I find I am doing quite a bit here. We never know how lucky we are until we look carefully around us. We are truly blessed.
One woman told me that despite a huge family and 10 friends on her friends list in her phone directory that not one person had called to see how she was doing or to wish her well...again, what can you say, except, "I care and good luck?"
And throughout the Mayo buildings are incredibly wonderful art exhibits. This hand blown glass arrangement is about 200 ft. above the subway level in the Mayo Building. One walks around scanning up, down, and around to see art from Morrocco, Egypt, South America....modern, contemporary, and art from the White House.
Heidi preparing for her first test of the day. We began at 6 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. Because it was required, Heidi could only sleep four hours last night...we were both exhausted beyond belief but Heidi underwent hours of pushing, prodding, electrical stimulation and painful nerve stimulation. She held up well and we are both counting down til bedtime. Hoping and praying for results tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Curtains are ticky-tacky and probably the worst feature. However, we decided we aren't here for the drapes!
The Mayo experience is totally awesome. I knew this would be a huge, state of the art facility but I didn't understand how huge the campus is and what a machine this system is.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
We had a ball on the toll road in Illinois. The signage before the toll booths had the amounts duct taped over. At one point, the sign just before the booth said .60 so Heidi dug that out of the "wad" of coins I gave her. Before we went 100 feet, the rate had increased to .80 and then, in a blink, a $1.00 Toll scamming in Illinois!! I mention "wad" because apparently one might have a wad of dollar bills but it is not remotely possible to have a wad of coins...Heidi says so.
You may have seen the numerous news programs investigating and reporting on hotel bed bug infestations. We had a super good laugh when Heidi hopped in bed yesterday for her afternoon nap and as she laid down, I asked if she had checked yet for bed bugs? She hopped up and we both checked it out...did the same today when we got to Rochester.
And we have enjoyed signage along the way...what does "engine braking prohibited" mean? Another proclaimed "vehicle noise ordinaces enforced." OK...is this to outlaw Harleys or something? If a car backfires, can I be ticketed? And while I have heard of the Wisconsin Dells and want to see this at some point...exactly what is a "dell?" We have words to look up. Another oddity here in Minnesota is the signage announcing the county road number on the highway. So, going W on 90 and below us is County Road 7. Why do I want to know that because there is NO way to get down to it. No exit, no path, no lane. Of what use is it to the person above on the overpass?
The wind gusts today are up to 50mph. As we packed our car this morning, I dropped the room key. No problem, we would pick it up when we went back. The key card blew in one direction and the card holder in another....people watching must have died laughing. Heidi is gimping along and my leg is killing me and we are both trying to catch these pieces of nothing.
Did I mention that Heidi's favorite show these days is Bachelor Pad? This inane show was on for two hours last night and the ludicrous conversations and strategic leveraging of relationships was definitely interesting if you happened to be a Martian trying to figure out human interactions. For real folks...the ultimate in mind numbing.
We have arrived at our hotel and it is quite nice...large sitting area, quiet bedroom with a door blocking the sleep area from the living/kitchen area. We have a full sized fridge, toaster, coffee pot, microwave and the kitchen is stocked with real dishes, glasses and silverware. I had packed paper and plastic but all we need is dish soap and we are good. I brought laundry soap but had no idea we would have the real thing here. Breakfast is included and a full hot meal so we will make sandwiches and quick dinners and lunches. The Mayo Shuttle pulled up as we parked and we can take that in and back every day...saves us a $12 per day parking fee. Heidi is sleeping now....shush!
Driving through Chicago on a holiday was not pretty...way too much traffic for me these days and Heidi reminded me of how much I loved driving the Long Island Expressway every day into Manhattan from Wantaugh where we lived...I must have been nuts. NO, just young. We had several close calls with people driving like nutsos, passing and almost shearing off the right or left front bumper. I was pretty tense and had to shake out my hands and arms...which was funny, because Heidi does that also. Quite a pair.
This trip will be a tough one for us...lots of together time and we are independent women. But it is also a time to enjoy each other and see things through each other's eyes. People watching, we both love. This morning, there was a very obese man sitting at the table next to us at the hotel, as we ate. This guy had on a wife beater undershirt, suspenders holding up his holey sweat pants and he drank his cereal. Now, we saw more of someone's body, fat body than anyone not related to or sleeping with him should see. NOT pretty. The woman with him was dressed normally....you'd think she could assist him with his clothing choices. Oh, that doesn't even work for me and mine.
We have had several run ins with the southern voice on our TomTom. He called me a "butt munch" for missing my turn. Folks in Chicago seem to know where they are going and signage is clearly mounted for those knowing the ins and outs of the city. For outsiders, it would seem that the DOT people could give a hint...like get in the left lane cuz the road is going to drop off...right here! Only missed one turn and then, to be called "butt munch" by the machine just made me cry laughing!
The adventure continues.....
Monday, September 6, 2010
I was told to hang back and Alex asked the young woman if she had any "fleshlights?" She asked, "why would you come here for a flashlight?" She had NO clue. He very carefully explained what he was looking for and she pointed us back to the wing that held the sex toys! Keep in mind...momma is walking five steps behind him!
We arrived and Alex asked for the device and the sales person pointed but suggested that rather than purchasing the "fleshlight" there were some lower cost models that worked as well or better. He then asked if he could help me? I said, "no, I am with my son." Son puked...and man kinda winked....like sure, he is your son, knowing that I was a dirty old lady with some young hunk. Alex said, "MOM!" And the man took a step back realizing, I was the MOM.
We went to check out the devices...they are rubber/plastic vaginas for use by men who don't have access to a woman. Get it...guys in Afghanistan! And so, we were invited to "try" the device, which really made Alex green. We found one we (read that Alex) liked and we went to purchase it. Oops, we needed "lubricant" said the sales man to enhance the experience. Alex turned green and the man gave us a bunch of sample packets to take....we explained this was to be sent to a young military guy based in Afghanistan so he threw them in for free!
We wrapped this gift and mailed it along with the lubes and with some candy to our Bud but the package went missing and so, the story went untold....until now. He is leaving Afghanistan and had his "package" happily in hand.
I was reminded of this story today when Heidi and I, on our way to the Mayo Clinic, passed Climax, a city on our way. Had to chuckle and was reminded anew of how seductive seductions can and should be....and then, my mind turned to our Bud and to the men and women who serve and defend the freedoms and the Constitution which affords us, the often seductive lives we live. I am thankful for all I have and for all who have touched my life.
By the way, neither of us tried the "fleshlight" and we did wonder if the package would get to our Bud without being used. Guess the US postal service and the US government gotter done.