Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Slow weekend in Gitarama

May 17th-18th

Well, I had intended to be away travelling somewhere this weekend, but things don’t always work out as you intend! The original idea was for Soraya and I to travel East to Épi’s and see what her school at Gishanda looks like. But a combination of Épi not answering her phone and Soraya dithering till the last minute meant that in the end Soraya met Épi in Kigali while I was busy training teachers at Mushushiro and they went and did their own thing while I was left behind!

So I spend Saturday morning working on my statistics presentation. It’s now completely different from the one Mans did for his district; it contains 20-odd photos to illustrate points and a lot of colourful charts. I think it looks good; I just hope I haven’t made any obvious clangers so that the primary heads can pick holes in one little part and then dismiss the whole thing!

In the afternoon both Tom and I are at a loose end, so we go to watch Muhanga play football in the big stadium. Muhanga is a newly formed team; they are in the second division (you mean that Rwandan boasts two divisions….!), but it is free admission. Of course, we’re the only muzungus in the stadium and for a lot of the street children who gather to watch the free entertainment we are more of an interest than the game. They crowd around us, backs to the game, oblivious of all the fouls and showing off on the pitch, and just stand and stare at us for minutes at a time. I can swear I see fleas jumping on one little lad…..

Another bunch of youths are high on sorghum beer or something stronger; they have a drum and are whistling, banging the drum and blowing on trumpets continuously. The sun comes out and it gets very hot; we are in the part of the stadium without shade. Muhanga wins eventually; there’s a big crowd and they all go wild as if the team had won the cup. There’s a sending off, fouls aplenty and in the dying couple of minutes all the players are hamming it up and doing their party pieces for the crowd.

After the game we go for a leisurely beer and then home to cook a meal. Unfortunately, at the flat we discover that the power’s gone off in our building, and because it’s a Saturday we’ll be without power or lights the whole weekend. This keeps on happening and it wrecks the weekend. If we knew we were going to be without power we would organise our time around it, but the cuts just seem random – there’s been no storm lately to cause problems.

So we go out to eat at Delta and have the best “omelette spéciale” since we arrived. Piping hot, big, and with loads of meat in it. It takes a long time to arrive, but it’s worth the wait. There’s been a big wedding reception at delta during the afternoon and we’re wondering if some of the meat is left over from that…..

It’s early to bed because we’ve no lights to read by.

On Sunday morning we go down to Tom’s office before church and get in a solid session on the internet. This is very welcome – emails read, blogs sent, even some pictures posted. Church is much the same as always, but fortunately it finishes early and we get in another hour on line before lunchtime. I’ve been able to post a lot of pictures including all my Shyogwe photos, and re-send them in an email to Holland. So there’s some good coming out of this weekend at last!

In the afternoon I try making pizzas using our oven. The topping works perfectly – a lovely base made from shallots, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and covered in cheese – but something’s very wrong with the dough. It rises with the yeast, but not enough. I think I’ve got my quantities all wrong, but I can’t work out how. The flour, too, is very heavy wholemeal. It’s edible, but only with a lot of dedication. Definitely a case of back to the drawing board. The oven, though, seems to work well – it gets extremely hot and doesn’t burn through the bottom of the pan.

In the evening we go out to “Tranquillité”; this is becoming something of a ritual. We have Karen, Ulrika, Karen’s two profoundly deaf guests, and not just Christi but all her family who have just arrived from the states. Parents, sister and brother.

They’ve only been in Rwanda two days and already the parents have had stomach bugs! They’ve hired a matata to get them and all their luggage from Kigali to Gitarama – interesting idea. Makes me start thinking again about the logistical side of Teresa and co arriving here in July.

Once again we’re early to bed and I’m completely asleep when Teresa rings. Oh dear, tales of woe from home and I feel completely guilty that I’m not back in England being more supportive. I think the absolute worst thing about being abroad is if there’s a problem back home which can’t easily be resolved. It’s not the practical things that are the issue – you can always find someone and pay them to fix the plumbing etc; it’s the relationships and long-term work related things which don’t lend themselves to quick fixes which cause so much angst.

So I can’t just down tools and rush home, and even if I did I can’t solve most of the problems in a short time; I just have to be supportive from a distance and sympathetic and hope to God everything sorts out before the summer.

Best thing about today – good session on the internet and catching up on myself

Worst thing about today – lack of power in the flat; lack of power to help sort things out at home!

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