All your thoughts of strong tires pulled us through the last trip safely! Thank you, thank you!
We made it out to Kageyo, getting lost many times trying to find our way through all the unmarked back roads. We finally picked up an older man in one of the villages we passed when he offered to show us the way. I think it may have been his first time in a car, and he spent most of the trip pushing the window button and gasping with surprise each time it moved up or down.
We interviewed 17 people in Kageyo, the most remote of remote no-man’s land IDP camps here, and even made it back to Kigali before dark. I learned, with great displeasure, that an astounding number of cars here do not use their headlights at night. I’m not sure why, but it seems like a cost-benefit analysis gone very wrong to me.
I’m tearing through books, and am bummed I only brought 5. I’m struggling to get used to the pace of life here. I am accustomed to always having something to do, and if I have nothing to do, plenty of entertaining things to distract me. I am not at all used to this more simple lifestyle, in which, lacking both distraction and friends, I feel quite aimless for most of my time. I have been trying to pass some time in the late afternoons by walking around the Kicukiro neighborhood. On my walk a few days ago, I passed a man sitting on the side of the path, just staring into space. Almost 2 hours later, as I was returning home, I passed him again and he had not moved an inch…still staring into space. I’m trying to learn how to contentedly be more like him. You’d think as a Quaker I’d be good at sitting quietly and not needing anything to do for extended periods of time, but apparently not.
I feel very aware of the fact that I have spent the majority of my last four years wishing for more free time. How luxurious a Saturday with nothing to do but read a book seemed! Now I feel almost burdened by the lack of things to do – I guess the grass is always greener…but annoyingly so.
However, there may be quite a few things coming up to occupy my time. Saturday I’ve been invited to the wedding of a woman who works here at FPH. I feel undeservedly lucky to have such an opportunity, but also unbelievably unprepared. How dressed up does one get at a Rwandan wedding? Do I take a card? These questions are amusing, not stressful, and I’m excited to see what it’s like—showing up as dressed up as possible (meaning my one dress), with a handmade card (meaning I have to learn how to spell her name before I go!). Hopefully next week I’ll be going to Gisenyi, up in the northwest, right on Lake Kivu and the border with Congo. I have also been invited to accompany a guy here to various parts of the country to help him conduct his dissertation research on trauma.
But plans seem to be as flexible as time is here, so we’ll see.
Also two mistakes to fix in previous posts!
1) A typo – IDP stands for Internally Displaced Persons. They were indeed internationally displaced when they fled Rwanda for Tanzania (internationally displaced also meaning “refugee”), but now that they reside in the country of which they are citizens, they are internally displaced.
2) “Bless you” after someone sneezes is spelled urakire – it’s hard to decipher what people are saying! Urakire translates into “may you be rich,” and the response from the sneezer is tous, which is the French word meaning “all of us.” I was on a bus with Francine (she translated this event to me after the fact), and an older man sneezed. Only one guy in the back said urakire. The older man turned around immediately and did not say tous, he said “Yes, YOU and ME only!” The rest of the passengers were stunned, and started demanding why he would say such a rude thing. He responded by saying, “he was the only one who wished that I would become rich, so he is the only one who should become rich with me. You should all learn to be more polite and it will serve you well.” I’m not sure that it went over very well, but I found the whole exchange to be quite amusing.