Monday, 12 January 2009

Rain, frustration, shopping....

January 9th

Wake up to steady, continuous rain and a cold shower on a cold morning. In fact, a cold night altogether. I only put one blanket on my bed yesterday; within thirty minutes I was up fetching a second blanket and even then I had the shakes for a while. I must have been more tired than I thought!

I’ve primed my phone to remind me about all the things I need to do today, but because of the rain I’m running late. While I wait for the rain to stop I do some more sorting out of stuff, then I’m off to Hayley at the YWCA to borrow her internet connection and send a mail to Teresa to let her know I’m back safe and to send on my keys. I also try to post yesterday’s blog but the system won’t let me. I wonder if it’s because I’m using my new laptop and there’s something about windows vista that the blogging software doesn’t like! Hey ho, that’s yet another little conundrum to solve this weekend.

By the time I’ve finished at the YWCA Janine’s at the flat waiting to be let in to clean it. I rush back, and let her in, then charge off on a moto to the prison. Why the prison? Because it’s supposed to be the best place in Gitarama to get keys cut. I know, this sounds really daft, but just think about it. A place full of petty criminals – it’s the obvious place to look for expertise in things like making copies of keys.

At the prison they’re very willing to cut me a key, and they they’d be able to do it quickly and cheaply. Unfortunately they need a second key to adapt into a copy of the first, and that’s precisely what I don’t have, so they can’t really help me. I call it a day for keys and decide I need to go back into Kigali tomorrow morning and get it all done properly. I seem to remember there’s a key cutting place in the town centre very close to the bus station.

There’s nothing for me at the post office – God knows what’s happening to our newspapers once again.

At the District Office Claude isn’t there; he’s off to a meeting at the ministry in Kigali. Innocent is around and welcomes me. I want tthis year’s primary exam results (i.e. from the exams which were sat last October) to start working on. Guess what – they’re not around. Neither electronic nor paper versions. The only person who might help me is BĂ©atrice, and she’s off work today. Innocent looks all round for me, but in the end we don’t even know whether they have come, and someone has got them, or whether they’ve not even arrived yet. So other than letting them know I’m back in Rwanda, it’s a pretty pointless visit to the office. I can’t do any proper work, and can’t even talk to Claude about using the motor bike.

So back to the flat and a shop up around the market. At least I have no excuse for not getting caught up on all domestic affairs. Then at the market I find the main covered section is closing early, presumably for some sort of market traders’ meeting. Happily there are enough traders on the fringes to get all I need.

Honestly, it’s turning into a day of small victories and big defeats! – can’t upload a blog; there’s no post; also no exam results to analyse, I can’t get the big bulk amounts of veg that I need to make a batch of soup, I can’t find the piece of paper with Emmanuelle’s phone number on. So I fall back on cooking and decide I’m going to eat well today and enjoy myself. Soup making is becoming my favourite way of venting frustration on contrary days! I play my ipod on the external speakers, and there’s Congolese rumba to drown out the hairdresser opposite.

For lunch I have the most gorgeous, creamy avocado with a home made salsa accompaniment (onion, garlic, green pepper, fresh tomatoes), plus a knob of cheddar cheese. Now that’s a healthy and delicious meal, so I feel full and virtuous.

In the afternoon I cook a batch of peanuts to use as snacks when visitors arrive (Hayley and Soraya are coming round this evening).

For evening meal I make an experimental concoction with yellow lentils and a rich tomato sauce, with carrots so fresh they smell as if they were only pulled a couple of hours ago. It looks revolting, but tastes great and is pretty wholesome. But, I have to admit, it’s a very far cry from the things I have been eating back in England over the past month!

Soraya fills me in on all her wanderings since we last saw each other (a whole five weeks ago, which is a long time here). Hayley tells us about the interview she had with Radio Bristol on New Year’s Eve – they wanted to interview Bristol people who were working abroad on New Year’s Eve, and via VSO London they contacted her. She was at Kibuye, and the interviewer was staggered to find that here in Rwanda we are usually in bed and asleep by ten o’clock, so that staying up for midnight is a very special occasion.

Soraya was playing badminton all New Year’s Eve, and losing every match she played with her Philippine friends, but enjoyed a good social life all through the holidays.

So how was my first working day in 2009? Pretty well a non-starter in terms of “making a difference”, I’m afraid. Bang go all my carefully prepared plans to launch into work with a flourish as soon as I get back. But I mustn’t grumble. I suppose I need a quiet day to finish adjusting back to Rwandan pace and style. Everything else will get done in due course.

I’m looking forward to meeting more of the gang at Hayley’s birthday bash tomorrow. Tiga’s back, Els is coming, also Han and Mans who are leaving for good at the end of the month. In fact, I think tomorrow might be their final “public appearance” before they go on a holiday en route to home in Utrecht.

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