Friday, 27 June 2008

Tea for two and lots of music from Byumba

June 23rd

I’m still not feeling right – can’t regulate my temperature. I don’t actually have a temperature, but whatever I wear either feels too cold or too hot, and I’m desperate to keep my chest warm and get rid of this cold and phlegm which are still lying on it.

The plan for the day is to lie low at home as far as possible and get all the work I need done on the census presentations for Wednesday. So as soon as Tom leaves in the morning, with his parents, for Kibuye, I sit and down and crunch numbers for hours.

By lunchtime I’ve worked myself to a standstill; I’m not wildly excited about the secondary presentation, but I certainly feel secure with the primary one.

In the afternoon I go to the internet café to see what emails have come in (lots, and Oh Dear, there’s so much flak flying around from my botched decision to cancel today’s training….) and try to send Sarah’s gorilla-point to her. But once again I’m thwarted by a bad line. I’m beginning to think she’s not going to be able to get this damn thing before the day!

During the afternoon I stroll through the market. I’m feeling confident enough now to banter with some of the women on the stalls, and I know they recognise me as a permanent resident rather than one of the transient muzungus who seem more and more common here.

I go over to Cathie’s to see how she’s feeling and talk shop ready for Thursday’s marathon training session at Nyabinoni. Cathie’s sprawled out on the floor; she felt better this morning and went into Ahazaza school. This turned out to be a mistake, and she’s overdone things.

She’s turning out books and papers; this is her last week at work and to me it almost feels like a divorce! However, we decide to postpone the Nyabinoni training for a week. This will give me more time to recover, reduce the amount of stuff I’ve got on my plate, and give us a chance to get Els over from Nyamata to help with the training. We really do need two people for these jobs, not just to spread the load and help rest each individual’s voice, but because at one point we split into 1st and 2nd cycle groups for sessions, and clearly I can’t do both on my own at the same time!

Things just get better and better as the afternoon goes on. Els texts back to say she’s on for Nyabinoni; she’ll have to stay over with Tom and I on Weds and Thurs nights but that’ll be fun, as well as a change for her. I think her Director doesn’t let his muzungu girls out for long distances on motos, so Els is going to have quite a learning curve by the end of next week…. Just hope to God she doesn’t hurt her back or do anything else which might get me into trouble!

As the sun sets I’m busy peeling veg when the phone rings. Out of the blue it’s Polly ringing from England for a chat. What a lovely surprise! I fill her in on some of the most recent happenings, and vice versa, and I’m pleased to know she’s still not ruling out a return to Rwanda sometime next year. It’s lovely to hear her voice again, and I’ll pass on her news to the other volunteers as I meet them.

Irene’s workshops run on a bit, and my grand feast which I’m so proud to have prepared has to be warmed up from nearly cold – for once in my life I was ready right on time, but she was late. Never mind, I’ve proved to myself that I can make a decent meal for a guest if I’ve got plenty of time and don’t feel stressed!

After eating we spend hours swapping music files from our computers. Somewhere in the process mine manages to pick up another virus, but whether from Irene’s stuff or whether it’s a latent one from last week I couldn’t say. I’m going to have to see the person in the District Office tomorrow and get my machine cleaned, even if it means I have to cancel one of my inspections.

It really never ceases to amaze me how in the space of a few seconds we can transfer literally dozens of CDs from one computer to another with no reduction in sound quality. I’m so happy I could run naked round the garden! (Don’t worry – I wouldn’t want to scare the guards…). I’ve got lovely music from East and West Africa, Brasil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia….. It’s so nice because whenever things get difficult or if I feel miserable, I’ve not only got all my favourite music to listen to, but loads of new stuff to explore and get to like.

If anybody reading this stuff is thinking of coming out as a volunteer, you really mustn’t underestimate the power of music to keep you sane and balanced. An ipod or other mp3 player, or a computer with decent speakers, is a necessity not a luxury!

Irene is staying at Kabgayi which is only a couple of kilometres up the road. By the time we’ve done with all the music swapping (we’ve been doing it for about two hours solid, and that’s just transferring things from one machine to another without properly listening to any of them), it’s about eleven o’clock. It’s too late to risk motos so we walk. It’s a lovely fine, moonlit night and after a big meal and a day spent mostly indoors it’s a pleasure to get out and listen to the crickets in the grass. There’s quite a breeze blowing, which is unusual from Gitarama. Irene notices how much warmer Gitarama feels after Byumba, but then Byumba is exceptionally high, cold and wet!

Back home I tumble into bed, happily!

Best thing about today – the day just got better as it went on. Suddenly this week is feeling manageable.

Worst thing – I’m back in the same situation as I was at the end of March with a computer virus that is getting seriously annoying and where I need outside help to shift it.

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