Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Cafe culture in Kigali

May 23rd

Into Kigali today for a Volcom meeting. I’m chairing it, so I need to read through all the paperwork and be prepared. I get into town early and go to the “Simba” café to get something to drink and familiarise myself with the draft new Volunteer Handbook, which is what we’re going to be putting together this morning. Christiane and Sabine are already there, and eventually we drift up separately to the “Karibu” café for our meeting. We all order more drinks and get started on the meeting. We have a review of the emergency evacuation test last week (some vols are saying that they weren’t told at the start of the phone call that “this is a test message” and some of them thought for a while that it was the real thing and we were all being evacuated out of the country.

We’re getting things stolen from the library pigeonholes in our VSO office in Kigali, and we want to ask for a safe room where we can store stuff, including suitcase and rucksacks. Charlotte stuns us by saying they’re planning some large scale alterations in our programme office. The kitchen will move upstairs, and not only will we get a secure store room but also a couple of rooms where we can have mattresses or even beds and put people up cheaply, if not for free. (It costs VSO a bomb to bring some of us up to Kigali for meetings).

I raise the issue of vols coming “out of synch” with the main groups; Becky’s had a wretched start to her time in Rwanda and I want to make sure nobody else has to endure the endless confusions and passings from one person to the next which have dogged her start.

When it comes to the Volunteer Handbook we discover that we don’t have copies of the revised version to look at. There’s no point in our talking without them. Several of us have tried to proof read the handbook and sort out all the typos; it doesn’t make sense to do it all again. So we agree that Amina will email us all copies of the revised version; we’ll all look through it during the week and do circular emails to comment.

All this means we finish our meeting very early, and we can sit and make conversation with each other until its time for dinner. The “Karibu” mélanges are not to be missed; they have things like roast cauliflower with cheese cubes, and aubergine stew which we never get in Gitarama.

Suitably bloated after all that lot, we go our separate ways. I’m at a loose end; I’ve got nothing planned but at the same time it seems a shame to rush straight back to Gitarama where there’s also nothing much to do. I ring Kersti and we meet at the “Blues Café” for yet another drink and a good gossip. Here comes the best news of the day – Kersti has definitely got the science teacher post in the new Kigali international school. At last things seem to be going on a roll for her. She’s off home to Europe for a holiday in two weeks, with a wedding to go to as well. We agree to meet up during the time Catherine’s out here with me. Jacob is definitely going to be staying on and teaching in the new school as well; he’s become Kersti’s best ally in the local teaching fraternity, so they’ll be able to support each other. I really want to try to get a copy of the “Contract of Moral Integrity” that all the retained KICS teachers have had to sign. When I put it on this blog you readers simply won’t believe how intrusive and irrelevant it is, and how it wouldn’t stand up for five minutes against a typical European country’s anti discrimination legislation.

Last night was the KICS school prom; Kersti went and enjoyed herself; a lot of the children there are beginning to realise just how many of their better teachers won’t be there next year and they’re getting fearful for their exam chances.

Kersti’s out on the town tonight with Irene, Leah and Nidhi. That’s one hell of a combination of girl power; Kigali men are going to be reduced to mincemeat. She goes off to meet them, and I drift around until I end up in the “Bourbon” café. Here I’m meeting up with Tina and Sarah. Tina’s almost completely recovered from her illness, but Épi’s gone down with it. We agree that Tina and I would definitely prefer to put off our “Zanzi-Tan” trip until the end of the year. It will be cheaper then, and we won’t be pressed for time in the same way as we will be in July. Soraya is equally happy with July or November. The unknown quantity is Épi, especially if she gives up VSO and gets a teaching job in either KICS or the new International School. She’s so difficult to get hold of; I must persist, though, because it wouldn’t be fair to make decisions without her and which would possibly exclude her.

By now its late afternoon and all I’ve done today is hung around in cafes. No matter, I’ve met lots of people and caught up on a lot of gossip (most of which can’t be posted on a public blog!!)

Back to Gitarama on a bus; all these late afternoon ones now go on from the town centre to Kabgayi, and I get dropped outside my front door. Can’t be bad!

Tom’s trying to make an enormous tomato salsa; it calls for five pints of tomatoes and we haven’t got anything like that amount. He adds some vinegar to stretch things a bit, and the result looks for all the world like my mum’s red tomato chutney. It’s also got a kick like a horse! We make a lovely guacamole from an avocado which is so fresh and ripe it’s like a pound of butter wrapped in a fruit skin, and watch films or try to concentrate on writing blogs until bed time.

I’m still spluttering and sneezing and feeling vaguely sorry for myself, but at least the electricity’s holding out. The water pressure, though, is so low that using the tap is a real pain.

Best thing about today – café culture. Simba, Karibu, Blues Café and Bourbon. Café latte, thê africain; water and coffee – today I’ve had the lot.

1 comment:

Eva said...

Have taken a cheap flight to Kigali for your holidays and cannot find a perfect place to party at. Cafe Culture is the place to get all the delight and the entertainment your awaiting for.