Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The Tour de Rwanda

August 21st

Down early to the internet café and I spend the best part of two hours uploading pictures as blog entries, and sending emails to all and sundry. For the first time this month I feel I’m electronically caught up on myself!

There’s nothing much happening at the district office and nothing really for either Soraya or me to do. We drift down towards “Tranquillité” again for lunch. As we get near the town centre every market porter and every lad hanging about suddenly sprints towards the main road. We can hear sirens in the distance, approaching. At first we think there’s been some major road accident and everybody’s racing to see who’s been hurt, or who is lying dying in the road. Then I think there must be a food drop of some sort to get this lightning reaction from so many people.

We turn down the little lane that leads from the market to the main road, and see the road lines two deep with people. Before we can think, and before I can get my camera out, a police motor cycle outrider hurtles past, followed by team cars. We’ve intercepted the “Tour de Rwanda” cycle race – our national equivalent of the Tour de France. A few seconds later a group of about a dozen cyclists flashes past. They look severely professional, dressed in all the gear and riding what look like seriously high-tech bikes. There’s stunned appreciation from the crowd, but not much noise. A couple of minutes later, and more support vehicles later, the rest of the riders appear. By this time the crowd has woken up and these riders get a huge cheer. A couple of minutes later there’s the meat wagon and a final police motorcyclist and it’s all over. We’ve seen the Tour de Rwanda en route from Butare to Kigali. Rwanda is a punishing country for cyclists – it’s hilly, there’s the altitude to cope with, and it gets hot. These guys must be seriously fit.

By the end of lunchtime I’ve managed to fix an inspection for Munyinya school tomorrow morning and I’m feeling a lot better that I’m getting back to “proper” work.

In the afternoon I’m back at the office for a while finding Munyinya’s documents and printing off their results charts – it’s so good that I’ve got all this statistical information to hand; it means that when I visit a school now I go in the door with a pretty good idea of what I’m going to find and what I want to ask them!

Back at the flat the rest of the day drifts somewhat. I feel jaded and have to have a siesta. Tom’s late coming home and it’s down to me to cook, so I do a lentil stew which we tweak by adding curry. It’s Tom’s first venture into the land of lentils and I have to say it doesn’t taste too bad. We’ve soaked the lentils for 24 hours but they’re still slightly crunchy; when we do lentils back home we pressure cook them and they’re really soft. I don’t know whether they need more than an hour’s cooking or whether they’re supposed to taste crunchy!

Today is Teresa’s birthday, and we celebrate with fruit salad and jelly and custard. Hope you’re reading this, Teresa! I try ringing her to say HB but she’s out, so I have to leave a message on the answer phone. Well at least I tried!

My shoulder is still giving me a lot of trouble at night, and in addition I’ve managed to catch a cold during all my moto rides on Tuesday, so I’m feeling under par tonight. And one of the side effects of both this altitude and the whole Africa thing is that even if you’re the slightest bit below par seems to take forever to get back to normal.

Funny day today – not the business-like start to the autumn programme that I intended, and entirely my own fault for not getting on the phone to schools quickly enough yesterday!

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