I am writing quickly in the downtown core of the city, before going out for dinner with some friends. I would have updated sooner, but the other day I walked to my trusty internet cafe in Kicukiro, to discover it has disappeared. Like gutted-room-no-sign-disappeared. Weird.
As much as I have been enjoying my time in Kigali, it was time for kathryn & I to get out of the city. So we headed up to Kibuye, a small town on the coast of Lac Kivu across from the Democratic Republic of Congo, last weekend. And by "heading up," I mean death defying Atraco bus ride for 3 hours. Atraco buses are both the TTC and Greyhound combined, as they are run both within the cities and between them. But instead of streetcars or large buses, take a minivan, add two extra benches (five in total), put four people per bench (not including many babies - our ride home was 24 people in one minivan. TWENTY FOUR), throw in some tassel adorned windows, and a hilarious slogan in metallic letters on the back windshield.
Some good slogans so far include:
YEAH! (in that dripping blood font)
Rest In Peace (makes you feel so safe to get aboard)
No forget me.
20 20 Vision (just in case you were wondering)
...and my all-time favourite of a large photocopied cut out of Snoop Dogg with dollar-sign glasses on. Which is fitting considering, our soundtrack consisted of "gin & juice" to phil collins to jay z t sarah brightman to the BEST EVER "a whole new world" from disney's 1992 Aladin. I officially love rwandan radio stations. All of this occuring at 6:30 in the morning.
Our ride there was the equivilent of the last leg of driving to Tofino on Vancouver Island, if one was going double the speed, and passing cars at whim with little visibility. But it gave us a great chance to just to soak everything in. At one point, our van was being chased by a herd of little girls. Their deep royal blue uniforms fluttering behind like tiny wings. Baby swallows, swooping, laughing, diving. Their delicate bare feet smacking the ground, raising red clouds of earth with every step. One hand clutching dog-earred notebooks, kept safe in unico pasta bags, the other flailing wildly above their heads caught in a wave. A minature flock of birds.
Rwanda is unbelieveably beautiful. The Mille Collines is aptly named, if not an understatement.
And i can honestly say that Kibuye is one of the prettiest places I have been in my life. We stayed at the St. Jean guesthouse in a tiny stone cabin, on a tropical looking penninsula, hundreds of feet above the water for only 10 dollars a night. Every morning I would sit overlooking miles of mountains and the lake drinking tea & drawing, listening to fisherman singing far below. Odd that such a peaceful place was a location for such horrific events, as Kibuye where one of the most comprehensive slaughter of tutsis occured during the genocide. 11,400 people in less than three months. The only other thing on the penninsula was a church and genocide memorial. A beautiful building we attended mass in on sunday morning. A place of such sorrow, exuding so much life.
Life goes continues on in Kigali. School is well under way. i spend most of my day in a room equipt with 9 old singer machines, operated by foot pedals, a literal IRON iron heated by filling it with coals (and we thought the industrial irons were scary, my beloved fashionistas....), and 30 or so hilarious energetic students ranging from 15 to 22 years of age. So in some regard they are essentially my peers, but I think that is working to my advantage. The other teacher Samuel is only 22 himself. And needless to say all of the donated supplies were accepted excitedly, and have immediately been put to use. So a big thank-you to everyone who so generously contributed from the Mwana Nshuti school!
Also, because 'r' and 'l' are interchangeable here, my name is awful. I am either Lola or more commonly Rola to my students (or mzungu when they think i'm not listening). The girls were quite reserved with me at first, some still are, but five of them sat me down yesterday and attempted to teach me some songs in Kinyarwanda. Clearly laughing both with and at me. But it was a nice ice-breaker. The boys on the other hand have loved me from the start (perhaps a little too much..."how can you...show me..that you love me?"... ummm fake husband here we come!), but seem to debate my sewing abilities. Which is frusterating, but i suppose I'll just have to prove myself, as both a seamstress and a figure of authority somewhat. Regardless, all of these individuals are orphans or were street kids, and incidently have been through quite a lot.
So I am willing to wait on feeling accepted by them.