IN THE PAST 3 WEEKS, SINCE LAST UPDATING, I HAVE:
~eaten more cassava than I thought was humanly possible
~accidentally stumbled into a genocide prison (and not been able to get out):My friend and I were walking on a side road in Butare, chatting away, when I noticed a beautiful, and at the time inviting, little path, surrounded by groves of banana trees and such. Being the person I am, I suggested we explore and check it out. We weren’t walking for 10 minutes when we noticed 5 men in uniform, with machetes, walking towards us-by the time we noticed who they were, it was too late to turn around, so we kept walking until we reached a field, where a handful more were working. At this point, near panic, we tried to walk down another path toward the main road, where we ran into a fence-we had no choice but to crawl through it to escape, so Im sure to spectacle of two white girls emerging onto the main road was pretty unusual.
~witnessed my first chicken slaughter (quite traumatic)
~attended my first Rwandan wedding, which was AMAZING! And lasted for 12 hours…Rwandans REALLY like talking…a lot…
~acheived a personal record for longest time without a shower-5 days! (Is it sad that Im a little proud of this?)
~made pizza and guacamole for 60 people in a Rwandan kitchen with no running water or electricity, in the rain (no joke on this one, the volunteers were craving American food so badly we endured 7 hours of manual labor plus a harrowing trip to the market to get ingredients.) I think we made the vendor’s day when we told him we needed 20 bags of flour and 30 avocadoes, in the local language to top it off.
~Witnessed a stand off between a cow and a monkey, probably the best thing Ive seen since being here. My friend and I were walking in the valleys outside town and ran into a herd of cattle chilling on the road, as they often do here. I heard something drop from a tree, and this little monkey first looked at me, then the cow, who was equally curious, and then they just faced off for a good 30 seconds.
~ visited my work site and the place where I will be living (when training in Butare is over in a mere month).Words cannot adequately describe this experience, but I will try. No running water, and no electricity, but I do get about an hour of power per night because I have a solar panel (really, I count my blessings). I have an “apartment” with two rooms. My village is beautiful, but poverty stricken, and the views are amazing. I took a walk around and was surprised at how my Kinyarwanda abilities have improved-I can actually communicate and hold conversations with people! I will be teaching health and English at a high school with over 600 students-crazy!I visited the school and was introduced to all the students at once, who laughed hysterically at me speaking Kinyarwanda, but seemed really excited to have me there. Then they invited me to play basketball, where needless to say I got my butt kicked, awkwardly flailing around trying to just get my hands on the ball. Me? Basketball? A bunch of Rwandan high school kids? Pretty disastrous.I’ll also be working at a health clinic, doing home visits and HIV education. I think visiting my site made me simultaneously excited and terrified to be on my own in this place, and for such a long time. Its far too overwhelming to think about too deeply, and Ive become close with a lot of other volunteers, so it will be hard to leave them, too.
So, all in all, in a country where I can count on being mobbed by school kids on a daily basis, monkeys popping out of trees, and incomparably beautiful hillsides, (but not on running water, power, or being sure that what Im saying in Kinyar makes any sense), I am happy. I miss that states every day but I feel like I am where I should be.