Published: August 7th 2009August 7th 2009 Monday:
Two samosas from a little store near FHI, yogurt, and a Coke Zero - all for $2!
Another good day at work! There's another woman from FHI-NC here this week so there are dinners planned at different people's houses for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
I finally caught Lizzie the Lizard tonight and set her free. She ventured out of the bathroom and into the hallway so she had no corner to hide in. I do miss her - the bathroom seems lonley without her there.
I tried a new restaurant tonight and mt stomach is starting to suggest that it was not a good idea. I was trying to expand my list, but I think I'll cross The Sierra off my list.
I'm reading Jospeh Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness" as a follow up to "King Leopold's Ghost". It's interesting, but slow going and I have to remind myself when it was written because the narrator's attitude is offensive. There's a good introduction to the novel by Joyce Carol Oates and she explained quite a bit about the context of the writing, but some of the words and the atitudes are difficult to read. Tuesday:
As I was walking to the office today, I took a different route from usual, partly for variety
Pear Tree at FHI
Some of the fruit of this tree hangs over our well gaurded fence (lined with broken bottles)
and party so I could go by the official tourist office and check on gorilla permits. They have one for 26 Aug 2009, but I don't think I'll still be here then. Plus, I'd have to but it today to guarantee my spot and I won't find out until next week how long I'll stay. As I got near the heard some sirens and saw flashing light. Two cars leading a motorcase came flying out on to the main road, heedless of traffic. More cars came after these two and I think President Kagame was in the middle car! In trying to stop, one SUV was stuck with no where to go and it got slammed into by a bus. It managed to turn enough to avoid the rest of the motorcade, but then ended up in oncoming traffic. Once the President's motorcade was gone, traffic resumed with the SUV facing the wrong way and nose to nose with another car. Everyone was honking, but the car had no where to go. It finally backed up into the correct lane and looked like ti was going to pull over. There was glass and debris all over the road. Scary! I
FHI Muhanga Office
This FHI office is in the Southern Provice of Rwanda
usually walk down the road off which the President's compound is located. It would have been cool to see him go by more closely. You can see the presidential compound from the road, but there are gaurds and you can not see his actual house. The Presidency where he works is quite a ways from his house.
Tonight I went to Jennifer's for dinner. She had FHI and non-FHI folks and it was a nice evening. Her house is great and she's renting it from the Rwandan Ambassador to Kenya. It has a beautiful wrap-around porch and with the weather here so nice, it's usable most of the year. Wednesday:
Today I went to three health care centers: a local health care center, a districy hosptal, and a referral hospital. It was interesting to compare the differences. There is an amazing range of health care available here with much of it delivered at the local level. The facility we visited is staffed by 17 nurses with a doctor who comes once a week. The nurses treat 3,000+ patients a month! Part of the clinic rotates on a seven day schedule and I got lucky because we were there
Doing laundry in the sink
on vaccination day. There were easily 100 babies (and their Moms) waiting in line and they were all soooooo cute! I didn't have much time, but I did get a few to smile at me. The vaccination programs are very strong here with close to 100% of the babies vaccinated on schedule.
As we were walking around, this little boy of about 8 was following me. I tried "hello" in English, French, Spanish, and even Hindi, but got nothing from him. He finally said "good morning" to which I could reply and he grinned from ear to ear. He then followed even closer and finally when I had to leave he said "good evening".
Today was a good day, but I had to keep reminding myself I was working and not on vacation. The countryside is beautiful with all of the hills (Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills) and the farms, many of them terraced. I wanted to stop and take photos, but couldn't. There's a Genocide Memorial in Butare and we also passed several smaller ones along the way. The Rwandan National Museum is in Butare and it's supposed to be very nice.
Crafts for Sale
Crafts for sale at the Caplaki Co-op. Many of the masks and statues were antiques from the DR Congo.
The former seat of the Rwandan monarchy is in Nyanza and you can visit the King's Palace there. If I stay another week, it might be worth a day trip to visit all of these places.
In the evening, I went to Jessica's for dinner with Jennifer and Lisa. Another relaxing evening with excellent company, food, and drink! Thursday:
Tonight I did laundry in the sink! I went to the store and bought washing powder (60 cents) and a clothes line ($1.25). There's hotter water in the kitchen than in the bathroom so I went for it there. I've got clothes hanging up outside and inside.
"The Office" and "30 Rock" are on here on Thursday nights, just like at home. "The Office" was an old episode while "30 Rock" was from this season. There was an episode of "Sex and the City" on and it was not censored at all! All of the other shows and movies I've seen have at least beeped out the really bad words. Friday:
Today there is an All Staff Meeting for FHI-Rwanda so I'm working from "home" since the office is closed. Here, we only work until 1:00pm on
Crafts for Sale
I thought that staues of European explorers (top shelf) were interesting.
Fridays so I have the afternoon free and am heading to Caplaki, a collection of 30+ artisans who sell their handicrafts.
I walked to Caplaki which was about three miles or so away, most of it down hill so it wasn't too bad. There were little stores all in a row and I had to go in each and every one since the artisans were sitting outside. I went through all of them before I bought anything. Many of the crafts were the same and there was some variety in prices for the same things. I ended up buying everything from store #2 where the woman was very nice and her prices reasonable.
I walked back home which was not nearly as easy a walk since it was all up hill. I hate a very late lunch/early dinner at the Bourbon Cafe, a coffee store in a small mall in town. I also had an Iced African Coffee that was apparently loaded with caffeine because my heart was racing for a while. I haven't had much caffeine in the last two weeks so it hit me hard. I walked home and stopped at a few more craft stores
Crafts for Sale
The large basket on the top shelf took two months to make!
along the way.
There's a Salsa Club at the Sun & Moon pub around the corner with free lessons so I think I'll head there around 9pm and party it up! Just kidding - it will be a quiet night here this evening to rest up for this weekend.
Shrek 3 is on the Rwanda Television channel! Bummer - it just got bumped for a track meet! Saturday:
Tomorrow morning I am heading off to Akagera National Park for a two day safari! Thanks to Amanda, Joyce, and Roxanne for their helpful pre-safari advice, e.g. no raw meat in the backpack, no poking sleeping animals, and the need for a hat for protection from blonde-loving panthers! More from there (if there's an internet connection )...