Saturday, September 26, 2009

8 Months In

***Sorry I fail so much at posting***
So, because I dont already have enough of a spot light on me, beingthe only white single female in a rural village, MTN,Rwanda's biggestcell phone company, decided to build HUGE antenna literally 10 feetfrom my house. It is atrocious, and looks ridiculous stuck amidstswaying banana trees and rolling mountains.Worse still, I now have agiant NEON-ORANGE (neon orange!!) tower which can be seen from milesaway, marking my house.I thought my novelty had warn off since thepack of curious children outside my gate has been thinning, but nope.What was once a group of kids is now literally a crowd, becausehanging out at the antenna has become a village past time. When I askanyone walking toward my neighborhood where they are going, theyanswer, "Oh, Im just going to look at the antenna!"as if to say, "Imheaded to a movie," or "Im off to the grocery store!" Its hilarious.This means that I cannot so much as makea trip to the latrine (thatsthe hole-in the -ground toilet for those of who are lucky enough tonot know) without being noticed, nor can I open my window when I wakeup at 6 a.m without an enthusiastic "Mwaramutse Emma!" Who can reallyblame them, though? With just few bars (I use the term loosely) andone generator in the whole village, there isnt much else to do besidesstare at an antenna. If my camera hadnt been stolen, I would haveposted a picture so you could see just how awful it is.Anyway, when Im not glaring at the antenna with hatred or trying todash unnoticed to the latrine, I'm doing well. The month of August wasvery tumultuous, especially with the dramatic robbery and subsequentadventure (or rather, nightmare) at the police station.I am realizingthat although my novelty hasn't quite worn off, the novelty of Rwandanlife is slowly doing so. Things have become a bit routine and I'm notsure how I feel about that. Work is taking a priority over socializingand enjoying the sweet slowness of rural life. The difficulty oftrying to accomplish things in a completely different culture isbecoming more apparent, especially when language skills are not yetfluent. Although, I have graduated from, "Look! Sun!" to "Sun me brunif sun is many-my skin white!" to the current, "If I am outside for along time, the sun burns my white skin." September is going well. Iwent to a weeding on Sunday which was lovely, at least the parts Icould understand. During Rwandan ceremonies, a basket is given to themain members of the groom's family.Each member comes in front of thecrowd when his name is called and accepts the basket veryceremoniously.Imagine my surprise when I heard my Kinyarwanda namecalled-I was sitting in the back trying to understand and focus onwhat was going on, but really dreaming about Trader Joe's and mexicanfood.This is sadly how I spend a lot of time at Rwandanceremonies-trying to get whats happening but eventually drifting tothoughts of food that will not be available for another 20 months.Iwas presented with a beautiful basket, and was really touched at thegesture.As I mentioned, complexities arise daily from living and working in adifferent part of the world, and as soon as I think I've got somethingfigured out, it turns out to be even more multi-faceted than Ipredicted. Especially when it comes to planning projects, I findmyself doubting that any big thing I try to do will actually work. Ifind the most value and satisfaction in small, day-to-dayinteractions:teaching my neighbor how to bathe and nurse her firstbaby, helping another neighbor with homework, playing basketball withmy giggling and extremely hormonally-charged high schoolstudents.These are things which are valuable but which one cannotreally measure numerically or in a fancy report, and things which Iwill probably remember the most fondly after I leave. The communalstyle of living here suits me, and I've gotten to children running inand out of my house.Its amazing to see that alhough the residents ofmy community may not have much, they really band together in times oftrouble to help one another.I'm really going to miss that when Ileave.Its getting increasingly difficult to picture myself ordering alatte at Starbucks or driving on a paved road.I certainly miss thecomforts of home, but I know there are far worse ways to spend onestime than playing basketball with students and learning how to plant agarden from the ancient woman next door.For the time being, things inthis part of the world are well. Thank you to everybody who has beenso wonderful, sending mail and taking the time to skype-it truly makesall the difference in the world. I hope Fall brings all of you peace!