Friday, 22 May 2009

Quiet weekend. Nothing much is happening in Gitarama...

May 16th-17th

A very quiet weekend. There have been all sorts of plans for dancing, parties etc this weekend but for one reason or another I end up opting out and going for the less exciting option. Tom has a nasty cold and doesn’t feel like doing very much either.

I spend a lot of Saturday trying to write up an emended version of the ”How To” guide from Friday’s meeting, but don’t manage to get everything done.

On Sunday we both go to Momma’s for the church service there. It’s a nice, short, child-centred affair and we meet Meredith who is the new American Peace Corps volunteer based in Gitarama. I’m still not sure exactly what her role is but at least I know it isn’t in education! But she’s certainly the first Peace Corps I’ve met in Rwanda and the first in Gitarama. The Americans have a really different attitude to their Peace Corps people from our VSO one. They insist on a much higher level of Kinyarwanda fluency before allowing them to go into placements than we do. (But then, how many Americans are fluent enough in French to use it as their everyday working language?). They give them much more basic living conditions than we would accept, and their placements are frequently extremely isolated. Most of them seem to be here on two year tours of duty, the same as us. The key difference is that they tend to be a lot younger than us; it’s more like an extended gap year affair than our system, and few, if any of the Peace Corps people are graduates with at least two or three years’ experience. Everyone thinks that “VSO is the English version of Peace Corps”, but they’re very different creatures. Never mind; the more friends we can make out here the better, and I don’t care what nationality they are or what organisation is sponsoring them!

On Sunday after church we decide to get food ready for our “bring and eat” supper at Christi’s. I make a massive coleslaw and finish off the last of our mayonnaise; Tom does something fancy and vaguely Mexican with potatoes and a sachet of sauce.

That done, we both watch DVD’s for the rest of the day. I decide to have a Hitchcock Fest, with “the Man who knew too much” and “Close Encounter”. I seem to watch videos in fits and starts; nothing for weeks and now I’ve seen six in just a few days. Oh well, at least by the time I come home I will have seen all my stash of films.

Ulrike has finally left Rwanda to return to Germany, so yet another experienced fixture of the Gitarama scene has gone. Tom and Christi are easily the longest serving volunteers in the town now, followed by me and Soraya.

Everybody – even the Rwandans – are grumbling about how miserable the weather has been this last week. Cold, wet – everything smells damp and we can’t get clothes dry. I’m not worried; a couple of days of hot sun will change everything and cheer us all up, but we are overdue some good weather!

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