Friday, 2 October 2009

Learning dominoes in a thunderstorm

September 20th

I’ve decided not to go to church today; there’s so much written work needs doing. I’m still unsettled by the business about the blog, and spend the morning writing up the rest of the week’s entries and going back through some others which I haven’t yet posted and revising them. In all honesty I can’t see anything in them which people could find offensive. For example, anyone succeeding me in January and proposing to visit Gasovu needs to be aware of the kind of reception they might get, and my successor could well walk into a storm over the use of the new Shyogwe classrooms.

During the morning an enormous convoy of Egyptian UN vehicles and supplies passes the flat along the main road. There must be well over fifty articulated lorries carrying armoured vehicles, jeeps and trailers, desalination units, and countless closed containers of supplies. Judging by the garish warnings on some of the containers, I think they probably contain ammunition. In one open lorry there’s what look like barriers to stop traffic. But the writing on the barriers is in Arabic. That’ll go down really well in Rubavu! (I assume this lot is on its way to the southern border between Congo and Rwanda at Cyangugu – Rubavu).

After lunch Delphine calls round with Clarisse, her next youngest sister, who is in her final year of secondary school. They’ve been to church at Kabgayi and are taking shelter because there’s a big storm coming in. Within half an hour the air is white with rain, and thunder banging and crashing all around. I get out the dominoes and teach them how to play – neither of them has ever played before. They’re quick learners but always trying to cheat by sticking a domino in places where they’re not allowed!

Yesterday while Becky and I were waiting for our bus to leave Gitarama for Kigali we were spoken to by a middle aged couple outside the vehicle. Neither of us recognised the couple and I was trying to remember whether he was a teacher from one of the schools I’ve been to this term. It turns out the couple were Delphine’s parents. Oh dear – what a clanger to make. She says they were OK about it; it’s just that the older I get the worse I seem to become at recognising people out of context.

Then, after the girls have eventually left, I discover the third bad thing about Saturday. I’ve completely forgotten about Jeanne Remezo’s dowry ceremony which was in Kigali during the afternoon. I was preoccupied with the need to get money before all the closures this coming week, and then the business with the email about the blog threw me somewhat. I’d got it into my head that the dowry do was the following weekend. Oh well, I’ll have to apologise to her when I see her next. I did contribute to the dowry and I’ll try to make sure I go to the actual wedding itself.

During the afternoon I get stuck into more report writing until my head’s aching and I’ve got a sharp pain behind my eyes. At that point I decide to call it a day.

At the muzungu meal there are only eight of us; various others are unwell or absent. I’ve got post to give to Kerry, and a power point presentation for Moira about the water project for Muheta. Moira thinks her sponsors will jump at the Muheta plan, so now it’s just a case of how to transfer money into the school’s bank account.

Moira, Kerry, Charlotte and Amalia have all just come back from Akagera with the college of education people. They actually went round the park in the college bus, which didn’t fit comfortably under all the acacia trees and whose white and black paintwork is now battle scarred…. They stayed around Lake Ihema rather than trying to venture up into the hills of the northern part. Apparently by the time they finished they had so much dust on them that when they took their sunglasses off it looked as if they’d plastered their faces with fake tan!

Back home to read for a bit, listen to music, try to finish some crosswords in my Guardian Weekly and then off to bed. Wonderful lilac coloured lightning reflecting off the clouds.

I’m probably going to have to rethink school visits now that the rains have come, but I need to talk to Soraya tomorrow.

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