Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Frustrated in Kigali

May 20th

Off to Kigali with Cathie. We want to get the 8.00 SOTRA bus but find it isn’t running today. No explanation, just a bloke with a lollypop in his mouth outside the booking office, which is locked and deserted. The usual ATRACO express buses are fully booked till 9.00 and we don’t want to wait an hour, so we cram into a stopper which fiddles around the bus park for ten minutes desperately trying to find customers. It’s a slow run to Kigali, but at least we’re not too cramped and it’s cheap. We get dropped at Nyabogogo bus depot; Cathie goes up to Mu Muji on a moto and I get a second matata to Kimironko and the VSO office.

I’ve got a long list of things to do at the office – travel money to claim, library books and video to return, letter boxes to check, and I want to do some more computer work.

But, of course, the VSO computer still isn’t working. There’s some problem with the power supply and it cuts out every few minutes. You just about get logged on, then it stops working. So no emailing for me; no looking stuff up on line. I might just as well have stayed at Gitarama. Cathie joins me; she wants to do some photocopying (but the photocopier is making unreadable copies), and some printing from the computer (but the toner in the printer has run out). We both sit and fume. How on earth can the office say it’s supporting us when all the reprographics we rely on aren’t working!

I get my travel expenses but not without a fight – why didn’t I go and see a doctor when I had Giardia? Because I wouldn’t have lasted the trip into Kigali Polyclinique, that’s why! Apparently self-medicating is frowned on, even when you know very well what the problem is!

Cathie and I go round the supermarket, then back to the office and the computer still isn’t working. So we have lunch and go back again, and it’s still not working.

However, I’ve found just the right book to prepare my Brain Gym and VAK stuff for the June training course, so the day isn’t entirely wasted.

We go back to Mu Muji and I see if the posh supermarket stocks treacle so I can make flapjack back in Gitarama. It doesn’t.

So we go round a material shop and find a nice batik design in green. We both like the pattern, and the cloth is sold in one size, so we buy it and agree to share it. I’ll get a shirt made up, and Cathie will get a skirt out of the remainder.

By this time Kigali is boiling hot and sticky, and we’ve had enough. On our way to the bus station we pass a street trader selling some nice screen prints; they’re mass produced designs and I’m sure they’re from Uganda rather than Rwanda, but they’re unmistakably African. I like one with dancers because I like the movement in it. We get a good price and we each buy a print. It’s another souvenir I’ve been wanting to buy, like the pirogue I got at Butare museum.

Back in Gitarama the electricity is back on at last, so Tom and I can cook in comfort and I can catch up on some correspondence on my laptop.

We decide it hasn’t been an entirely wasted day – I’ve bought some batik, bought some material for an “African-style” shirt (I’m moving on from the Marks and Sparks style in African fabric…); I’ve got exactly the textbook I want to use to prepare my training session; I’ve got my travel expenses and spent them all straight away! And we’ve got electricity again!

Worst thing about today – the VSO office. I’m going to stir things at the Volunteer Committee meeting in June!

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