Friday, 14 August 2009

Topsey turvey in the town

August 13th

A really odd day today, but quite successful in the end. Claude texts me at 5.30 in the morning to say he can’t get the District car, so we can’t go up to Rongi after all. I decide to work from home in the morning, and get stuck into stuff for VSO. At the moment there seems to be a never ending stream of reports to write, surveys to fill in and requests for information. It’s becoming a full time job.

Tom has a better day today. By eight o’clock in the morning one of the FHI workers has come down from Kigali with proof that they really have paid their electricity bills, and has been in to see Electrogaz in Gitarama and threatened them that unless the office is connected immediately he’ll send Tom and Janine back round to savage the manager. Sure enough, within half an hour there are workmen back at the office reconnecting the juice. What a farrago and waste of manpower!

I work in my pyjamas until about nine o’clock, and that’s a stroke of luck. Suddenly the water comes back on, and I can have a proper shower. But by ten o’clock it has gone off again, and stays off for the rest of the day.

BTW I see that some of you volunteers who are coming to Rwanda in a couple of weeks have been reading this blog and are getting worried about all my griping about lack of water. Please don’t worry. The water supply is intermittent, but you’ll never be put into a situation where your health is seriously at risk. It’s a nuisance rather than a threat. And if the problem really is due to a lack of processing chemicals (see yesterday’s blog), there’s every prospect that you won’t have this problem next year. The rains are due any time around mid-September, so by the time you go into your placements you’ll be faced with more water than you know what to do with…..

Later in the morning I stroll up to the office. It’s a beautiful day. There’s not a cloud in the sky; the sky is a milky blue and it’s hot without being scorching. The road through the town is nearly finished now; there’s still confusion every few yards where the workmen arbitrarily close off the road while they spray tar and throw gravel chippings around. But you get used to anything if you have to put with it long enough. We dodge round the traffic that’s held up, all hoots and pent up aggression, and skip round the hot tar and flying chippings.

On the way I bump into Jeanne, the headmistress of Nyabisindu school. She’s the young head teacher I’ve been intending to ask round when we have a film night or big collective meal. But somehow we’ve never managed to connect. Now I think I know the reason why – Jeanne gives me an invitation to her wedding next month! That’s one wedding I really must make sure I get to.

At the Office there’s no sign of Claude, nor the modem. It transpires that Claude has found a car from somewhere and has gone up to Kiyumba. Blast it – that’s another secteur I need to get to. If he’d rung me and said he was leaving in 10 minutes I’d have downed tools and rushed up to the office on a moto to hitch a ride with him. Honestly, these people don’t do any joined up thinking. He knows I’m having problems getting to the far out secteurs, and he’s always saying we need to visit them. Why doesn’t it occur to him to take me along and do two schools instead of one?

After a couple of hours there’s no more work I can do in the office so I come back home, and eventually try the new internet café which has just opened in the town centre. Wow what a revelation! This place has a really good, fast connection, almost as good as Claude’s modem. In one hour I get all the emailing done that I need, and I begin to feel the day has been productive.

Next is a serious trip round the market. Peppers have definitely gone up in price; you now only get two decent sized ones for 100 francs. But carrots are better value, and I make a point of buying avocadoes. Three weeks in England definitely leads to a pining for Rwandan avocadoes!

Tom and I scratch our heads to work out what to cook for the evening meal. We have a fridge full of left over odds and ends, none of which particularly go with each other. But we throw everything in and survive. It wouldn’t win any prizes in a cookery competition, but it’s certainly wholesome and if anything we’re overdosing on fresh vegetables. Avocadoes with tomato, onion and green pepper salsa; pasta and noodle mix with leftover leek and potato soup and remnants of tomatoes and cheese, with carrots and green beans, the rest of the salsa, and some ancient coleslaw as side dishes. See what I mean about throwing everything in? We’ll probably be burping and worse all night, but by God we’ve had our five a day of fresh veg!

One good piece of news for me is that Tom has had to replace the gas cylinder in our kitchen during the time I was in England, so I won’t have to bother with it while he’s home. I’ve just got to remember to pay Janine for being our domestique, and put money on the electricity meter before the blessed thing runs out.

Best thing about today – discovering this new internet café, and getting the bulk of all my VSO reports etc done. Oh, and an email from Tina to say she’s due back very soon.

Worst thing – I still haven’t been out to a school and I’ve almost been back a week.

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