Friday, 12 June 2009

Zonked in Kigali

June 9th

Well, I end up getting about four hours’ fitful sleep. There’s a mozzie in the room, and my bed is a single bed in a double room, strategically placed in the middle of the room with two nets, one on each side of the room, neither close enough to use. I’m too tired to try to move the bed or do anything about the nets, so I try to snuggle under the covers and end up drenched in sweat and still bitten.

It’s a relief to get up and doing just after seven o’clock! It’s a bright, sunny morning, and on the half hour walk from AEE to the VSO office the temperature goes from nicely fresh to definitely hot. In the office I get a lot of blogs posted. There’s full scale building work in progress in the VSO office; the kitchen has already been moved upstairs and is operational, and they’re about to start on converting another room into a dormitory for people like me to sleep over at very cheap rates or even free.

Charlotte comes in for a chat; she’s off to Canada on VSO business tomorrow and like me she is raiding the library for something light to read while she’s travelling. I’m glad to leave Kigali by mid-day – it’s got sweltering hot and I’m wilting fast. I just want to get home to Gitarama and collapse. When I get home I discover there’s a major Gacaca court sitting; every single shop is closed; the market’s closed and we’ve got no vegetables in the house), and even the bus park is fenced off and we’re dropped unceremoniously at the roadside. At the “Horizon” bus depot in Kigali they told me there would be no Gitarama buses until three o’clock; for a Gacaca to cause such widespread disruption it must be a very important case indeed. I text Tom and suggest we eat out tonight – a pity, because I had been looking forward to some home cooking after several days of eating out.

It takes me all afternoon to get the place back into shape after Catherine; not that she’s messy but there’s stuff to iron; stuff to put away – I take my time, and suddenly the whole afternoon has gone. On the dining room table there’s an invite from the Queen – to the Embassy Birthday Bash in Kigali. Last year there was a crucial spelling mistake on the invite; this year they’ve forgotten to put the starting time. We gather that this year they’re shortening the event to a mere couple of hours, and the days of free beer are over. My God, the recession must be biting deep if H M Government is cutting back on the canapés and drinks, even in Kigali.

Becky texts me; she wants to meet with Delphine with a view to taking her on as her domestique. If this works out I’ll be very happy – it’ll be cash in Delphine’s pocket to go towards putting her through university, and I know that she’s honest and hard working. Let’s hope it all works out.

Tom comes back from Kigali and we go out to “Green Garden” for beer and brochettes. We’re just been served when the girls ring; they’re in the same situation of having no food in the house and unable to buy some. So they come and join us. Somehow the conversation moves to accidents we’ve seen and we spend a thoroughly grisly half hour talking about people losing fingers in encounters with circular saws; of people crushing various bits of their anatomy under filing cabinets; of people putting arms through windows.

But by nine o’clock we’re all back home, tired out, and more than ready for bed. Yay – tonight I’ve got my own bed; not the mattress on the floor; not a strange bed in a stuffy hostel.

Catherine – hope you’re back safely in Dorking. Rwanda will soon be a distant dream….

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