Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've Survived 3 Weeks...

Sunburned to a crisp, bug-bitten, and un-bathed. Rwanda does wonders for your looks!

I am sitting underneath the stars listening to Radiohead….we have wireless (temporarily) at the convent/hippie commune! I’m so psyched, its great to be able to connect with everyone.The world is not so big after all…

Lets see now, what of interest has happened. My friends and I managed to go out for din and drinks on Singles Awareness Day, which was very nice. Hotel Credo is kind of reminiscent of any American club, except with plastic tables and chairs and you can hear goats bleating in the background. They also play American country music mixed with some Beyonce, which is awesome. We ordered some sort of meat dish and 20 minutes later saw a motorbike pull up with two men and a live goat sandwiched between them. Enough said.

On Saturday we went to a genocide memorial, which was absolutely stunning in so many ways. Our poor bus broke down on the way because of the steep hills, so we ended up walking there which was SO amazing.It was a beautiful setting, a kind of plateau set amongst mountains. The memorial is actually a burial site for over 50,000 genocide victims, and many of the bodies, including children, have been exhumed and displayed to convey the horrors of that time. It was a truly truly emotional experience, to say the least, and to witness it with our Rwandan trainers made it all the more affecting. I would have liked to take pictures just to somewhat share the experience, but it felt wrong.

Sunday I spent alllll day with my host family, which basically consisted of us staring at each other and laughing awkwardly because my Kinyar is DEFinitely not ready for any kind of interesting conversation. Our convo was kind of like this:

Me:“Ibyshimbo ni bgyiza” (Beans are good)

Mom: “Yago.” (Yes)

Me: “Nkunda ibyshimbo”(I like beans)

Mom:”Nkunda umuceni” (I like rice)

Me: “Urakunda inyanya?”(do you like tomatoes?)

And so on like this for about 8 hours….

To spice things up, I got proposed to by my host mom’s nephew, AND invited to a wedding in a few weeks, which should be awesome. I hear Rwandan weddings are a great time, and I may even get to witness the cow ceremony. Clearly I am in with the cool crowd here.

Ive been getting a lot of request for snippets of my daily schedule, God only knows why, but here it is:

Get up at 6:30ish, 2 hours of language class, health training (im probably going to be working in maternal health clinics or doing HIV and AIDS eduction) more language, lunch, more language, perhaps some laundry, an afternoon beer with some other trainees in town, or a bucket bath followed by dinner and more classes.. pretty exciting stuff. Weekends are spent hiking to my hearts content around the little villages outside our town, practicing language with the locals, and doing cultural excursions with the group.

Things are good, Im happy, and becoming increasingly used to this fascinating and beautiful place. STILL trying to link my flickr account to this thing, so more pics to come. The one above is of some kids that followed me for seriously an hour on a run! They were SO cute and fascinated when I showed them their picture on my camera.Amahoro!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bienvenue a Rwanda!


After a 20 hour flight and 7 shots (the vaccination kind, not alcohol) I am in Butare, Rwanda.

The past days have been a blur of meeting ambassadors, government ministers, and Peace Corps staff. Apparently its really big deal that Peace Corps is returning to Rwanda after 15 years of absence due to the war, and everyone seems really excited to have us here.


The little Ive seen of Rwanda so far is absolutely and stunningly BEAUTIFUL. There is no way to describe it but I’ll try. They call it the “land of a thousand hills” (le pays de milles collines) and there couldn’t be a better name. On the drive from the capital to Butare, we were all silently staring out the window and just soaking it in: the land is thick with every imaginable color of green, so fertile and lush and gorgeous I couldn’t believe it. Banana trees, avocado trees, everything-little villages are sprinkled around and you really kind of cant believe what you’re looking at. Ill try to link my flickr account so you guys can see pics.


The convent where we are staying for the next 3 months of training has electricity and running water, kind of. Its basically bucket baths with trapped rain water and you are fortunate if you get to flush the toilette. Every time I turn the  light switch on in my room I cross my fingers it will work. Our trainers tell us we are getting spoiled and reality will hit us when we arrive at our work sites, which are extremely rural (picture me carrying a water jug on my head for miles-haha) So this whole internet cafĂ© luxury will be short-lived L


Learning Kinyarwanda has proved to be 1,000 times more difficult than I anticipated. Simply saying  “American” is “ndi umunyamerikakazi” and “village” is “ubudugudu.” How I will survive alone in a rural town is beyond me at this point, but it’s a full immersion program for training, no English allowed, so hopefully that will help.


On a different note, it is amazing to be in a country that has only recently survived such brutal violence. I am really hoping to learn more about the genocide, but it is very taboo to discuss it.


Anyway, all for now J Amahoro, Nkunda, nkaba Komera (peace love and strength)