Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012, 1PM.

I'm waiting for Miriam to arrive. She is coming to help me plant my few garden seeds I brought. I put the packets in a long sock in my suitcase and thought I was running a huge risk. They never even looked in one of my bags in customs in Kigali!  Sure wish I'd brought a lot more. I have none of my heirloom tomato seeds. Here is what I have: Radishes, 2 types: French Breakfast and Plum Purple; arugula; cucumber; bright lights Swiss chard; three types of flowers--some yellow four o'clocks the seed of which I harvested at my house in Oak Park in some past year; cosmos; and some double yellow sunflowers. I'll put all the flowers up against my tall bamboo fence. Not even sure they'll germinate as they look like little samples and no telling how long I've had them...And now it's thundering and clouding up.

Jackie brought me a hoe and a rake. One would recognize them as such, but the hoe is shaped differently. These are the hoes that all the women carry up in the mountains. Usually, they carry them over their shoulders but every once in a while you see one balancing the hoe on her head!

1:35: Miriam arrived just as it started raining a little. We planted the sunflowers and the cosmos, then it was coming down too hard. We're just sitting in my living room now as it actually looks like it might clear up. See if we can wait it out. The soil is very dry. We haven't had rain in at least a week which is very unusual for the rainy season.

We were soon rewarded by the cessation of the rain, blue skies, and lots of sun. Got everything else planted!  These photos are of Miriam planting the last hill of cucumbers and of yours truly in my schmata and my Chicago Bears shirt! Best investment I ever made! I'm going back to that second-hand market again.  Miriam laughed at me when I actually sat down in the dirt and moved along a row to plant seeds. Rwandan women always stand to work. They do not bend their knees. They bend over to do whatever they are doing (laundry, thinning seedlings, etc.) They are very long-legged and graceful.

Here are photos of the rake and hoe we used

Random photo of Miriam taken earlier in the week. The two big yellow "Jelly cans" under the table are the cans of water they bring us every day since we have no water. They are really heavy. The small yellow one-liter containers on the table are what Miriam buys the milk in. They were once containers of cooking oil. Somehow they clean them out well enough to carry milk. Miriam and I had a real problem with "potatoes" this week. She fixed white potatoes and I showed her how to make mashed potatoes. I then asked if she could make sweet potatoes. She made them, and they were still white and tasted like "Irish potatoes" to me as they call them here. We agreed that I will go to the market with her sometime soon so we can straighten out what we each call sweet potatoes! I want to see her buy our hot milk, too!
And the final photos are sort of weird, but I thought you might like to see them. The photo of the ladder was taken in the open area between my house and the little shed in the back. They have left the ladder there all week as they continued to tinker with the water system. Until now, I have never seen a ladder hand made from found pieces of wood. It actually looks quite sturdy and somewhat a work of art. The big black tank you see up high and the smaller white tank just outside my kitchen door are the hot water tanks. We actually had hot water one night this week, but then it disappeared. And we had no cold water, so with nothing to mix with the hot, we couldn't shower in it! The other sad picture is of the crumpled and torn metal water tank that "broke" along with the structure that held it when they filled it with water the first time. Supposedly, the Clinton people sent a plumber from Kigali toward the end of this week to help them figure out what to do. That tank cost around $2,000 USD. I hope that plumber will oversee the project till it's finished. Someone smart needs to be in charge.

That's about it for now. We only visited two clinical sites this week. I feel this project of interviewing instructors, students and staff sort of slipping through my fingers. All Jerome's resolve has disappeared and my ineptitude with the languages keeps me from going out by myself. A note to MiJa: next year's group definitely needs some Kinyarwanda instruction before they get to Rwanda. It is very hard to study and learn a new language while you're in the middle of doing another job. My "Advisor" work takes all the energy I have every day. I'm learning a few words in Kinyarwanda, but it is going every slowly.  

I hope everyone is doing well. Must be getting close to midterm time at school.

Your Advisor on the Ground in Rwanda

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