Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays from Rwanda!

Since I don't have a house at my site, I spent the holidays with my headmaster. He has a house in the city, which is at least as big as my parents' house in America and has electricity. It was frustrating at first to be in a house full of people again when I was looking so forward to having my own space, but I made the best of it and enjoyed my time in the city. Now I know my way around Rwamagana and have been able to meet some neat people.

We went to church on Christmas morning. If I didn't know that it was Christmas, I would not be able to tell that it was. I don't think the sermon was even about the Nativity. But boy do Africans know how to do church! There is so much passion in their singing and dancing. The men were wiping sweat from their brows and the women tears from their eyes. I think that it was mostly for show, but fake it 'til you make it, right?

That evening I met my headmaster at a bar. He was already there with a few of his friends. It was an interesting mix of people. There was a man with a Master's degree, one who was a doctor, one was the pastor of the church we went to, another also worked in education, and the last one... well, I don't know, but he had about six beers. We had beers and brochettes, and I even got to try fish for the first time in Rwanda. I think it was tilapia. It had spikes on its back. It tasted good.

The day after Christmas I moved into my room at the school. Still no house for me - and I doubt they will find me one, so I'm making myself at home here. Since I was installed by Peace Corps at my headmaster's house, I had to hire a taxi to take all of my belongings to the school. My headmaster and his nephew were trying to convince me to save some money by taking all of my bags on a squeeze bus and just pay for the extra seats that the bags would occupy rather than hire a taxi. I gladly paid the extra for the private taxi. Sometimes saving a buck is not worth the extra hassle. I was proud that I got the price for the taxi down from 20,000 to 12,000 franks.

As soon as I got to my room in the school, I started scrubbing the walls down. The place is filthy and cleaning it up should keep me busy for awhile. I'm getting settled in here buhoro buhoro (slowly by slowly). I might even paint the walls some day if my headmaster lets me.

Mbere (before)

I don't know what the yellow stuff is that I scrubbed off the walls. I don't want to know.

I started near the bed and worked my way towards the closet.

Above the closet. I haven't even touched this area yet. It's become a place for me to throw trash for now.

Nyuma (after)

Not perfect, but much better! I sacrificed a pair of stretched out socks and scrubbed the walls with some bleach.

I stretched my mosquito net around the bed frame, which is for a bunk bed but it doesn't have the top bunk.

I only have a few random things in the closet right now until I get organized: water filter, gifts for my host family in Kamonyi, and some bubbly for celebrating New Year's.

And the other side of the closet, filled with items from a shopping spree in Kigali and the Kabunga market. Be jealous of my gas stove!

I must have hiked at least twenty kilometers today through the hills. It felt great on the way down. Coming back up was a different story! Especially since I was carrying a bag full of groceries from the market. And yet I still have energy right now because I have enabled myself to cook my own food! Hooray for fresh vegetables!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!

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