Sunday, 28 June 2009

Tiga's farewell bash at Butare

June 27th

A lie in this morning. Its umuganda day yet again, and the morning is blissfully quiet with the hairdresser opposite silent and minimum traffic passing. Since I have the internet modem I make sure I catch up on emails, and the morning passes quickly. I’m looking at the coverage of Glastonbury back in Britain; my Rachel is working there and it makes me feel less distant from everything to follow events online. There is the inevitable rainstorm for the festival, including a sharp thunderstorm on the very first day. That should ensure there is the customary mud bath. I know Rachel will be in a caravan, probably sharing with some of her friends from school, and she is an old hand at festivals by now, so she can look out for herself.
In the afternoon I meet Soraya in the bus park and we take a matata down to Butare. The afternoon is not quite as hot as usual, but the bus is full to bursting and I’m always glad to escape when we reach Butare bus park. We pass Moira and Kerry, also waiting for a bus south, at Kavumu. Just before we reach Butare they phone us to tell us they are already here ahead of us. They have had a lift in some body’s car.
At ineza motel we find that every room in the place has been booked (and paid for) by Tiga; I get what is jokingly referred to as a double room; the bed is narrower than my one at Gitarama. Moira and Kerry are waiting for us, and we go straight to Tiga’s. She has a beautiful house with a massive garden, right next to the main road junction but set back a few hundred yards behind St Teresa’s church. It is the perfect place to throw a party. There are hedges all round the garden so we have privacy. She has thought of everything – a whole sheep is roasting on a spit in one corner, and she has rigged a long extension cable so we have music in the garden. The garden is flat and grassy and ideal for dancing on. Being Tiga, she has planted vegetables and the salad greens she has harvested and used for the party food. There seem to be endless bowls of pasta, salad, rice, guacamole etc. And limitless crates of drink, too. It’s just as well, because it feels as if virtually every VSO is coming. More and more people arrive, well after dark, and when every single available bed in Ineza has been claimed. Tina is ill again and not coming, but Épi and Jeanneau arrive and have to go down into Butare town centre to find somewhere to stay.
We eat and drink and dance and talk till well after midnight. Hassan from the “Matar” supermarket is there, and she has ordered a celebration cake from him. It is the most enormous affair, with chocolate icing and coco-pops for decoration.
I discover that Tiga is flying home on the same day that I’m returning to England for the summer – July 18th – but she is flying Brussels airlines and I will leave Kigali a few hours ahead of her. That’s a shame; having flown out to Africa together it would be appropriate to return together. Many of the other volunteers are leaving in December and everyone is talking about the jobs they have applied for, and are awaiting interviews for, or (in a few cases) how they have made dozens of applications so far without any joy.
I talk with Joe at the party and we provisionally arrange that Soraya and Moira and I will travel down with him to Nyamasheke next weekend; it is one of the places on my hit-list to visit before I finish In Rwanda, and I’m becoming aware that there are precious few free weekends left to fit these visits around.

A good day today – seeing some volunteers whom I haven’t met for a long time.

No comments: