Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Vegetables galore and a fishy tale for the evening

April 18th

A bright and sunny Saturday. Tom’s off to Kigali to meet some people arriving at the airport; it turns out their flight is delayed and he’s stranded for most of the day at Kanombe waiting for Ethiopian Airlines to fix their plane and get it to Rwanda.

We have absolutely no vegetables left in the house so I go round the market and do a big shop up. The Saturday market in Gitarama is getting bigger and bigger and taking up more and more space. In the “informal” section the sellers are jammed in so close together that it’s really difficult to get through them. Its not helped by the number of people who stop in the only available piece of unoccupied land and have a good gossip for thirty minutes at a time. Then there are the small children and teenagers who are so bored that the sight of a muzungu doing the market is an irresistible attraction; I end up with a “tail” of a dozen or so kids all peering at me buying avocadoes as if I was doing do magical business.

Back at the flat I have Delphine coming round for her English lesson, and I have to quickly prepare some materials. Then I set to and make up a batch of soup; it feeds Delphine and I and makes two boxes full to put in the freezer. That’s two lunchtimes sorted for next week!

In the afternoon Tina comes round to collect her post and we catch up on each other’s news. Tiga is back after her operation in France, which is good news. Almost everybody is back in town now; just Charlotte and Hayley who don’t return from South Africa until Monday.

The afternoon is beautiful weather, hot and clear and without any threat of rain. I take myself off for a walk in the countryside, but it gets jading as nearly everyone I pass asks for money. Much worse than on any previous occasion. Some are saying it for fun, others really mean it. If things are like this across Rwanda then we‘re far more into a “dependency culture” than I realised.

In the evening Tom and I decide to eat out, and we go to the bar just up the road from our flat. There’s a music system playing a lot of our favourite East African music, but the sound is so distorted it sounds as if the speakers are under water. Tom orders fish brochettes, I order goat brochettes and ibirayi. The waiter returns after five minutes and he and Tom try to have a conversation in Kinyarwanda which I can’t really follow. The only bit we both understand is that we’ll have to wait quite a while for our food. That’s no problem – we usually do!

While we’re waiting for our order, the lights keep going on and off. There seems to be a problem at the restaurant – all the rest of the area is still lit up. I think what’s happening is that a fuse has blown because the circuit is overloaded, so in good old Rwandan tradition they just keep putting in new fuses without reducing the load on the circuit. So each new fuse lasts about ten seconds and then blows. Eventually the penny drops and somebody does something to the circuit. We’re lit up. Then a few minutes later somebody obviously plus in the extra gadget and we start the whole fuse blowing process again. Well, it helps while away the time it takes our meal to arrive….

When the food comes we realise that what the waiter was actually saying was that they had no fish brochettes left, but would he like a whole Tilapia fish? And Tom, without fully realising what he was ordering, had said yes. So suddenly we’re faced with a meat feast – brochettes and a full sized fish. Of course, we agree to go halves and we attack the food with gusto. By the time we’ve finished we’re bloated. It has cost a lot more than we expected, but its good food and we can afford it.

Back at the flat we both decide we’re tired and opt for an early night. Meanwhile the nightclub near to us is just getting started and pumps out the beat until after the call to prayer tomorrow morning!

Best thing about today – just enjoying a quiet day.

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