Friday, July 5, 2013

Last entry from Rwanda

Friday, July 5, 2013

Well, Dear Readers, this is my last entry from Rwanda. I leave in just five more days, July 10. Because I want to record some of my reactions upon returning to the U.S. after a year in a very different culture, I will continue to make some entries once I get to Illinois. So.....it ain't over till its over!!

I've been trying to get rid of Rwandan francs but I'm afraid I went too far. Now I may need to do some fancy dancing at my bank in Kigali. One of my drivers who owed me 15,000 francs (for fuel I bought him) sent it up to me today from Kigali. I thought I'd never see it again. I have found the Rwandans I've dealt with to be quite honest and ethical. Nice to know these habits still exist. Or maybe it is just out in the rural areas. Paul Kagame runs a pretty tight ship in the urban areas as well, though. Maybe a little too tight.

The rooster and the cows are singing to me. If only I'd had a dog here, it would have been perfect.

I said my good-byes at the hospital this morning at a staff meeting. The staff and faculty are having some sort of "do" here at the school for me on Monday. We'll see what that is.

Hope you've enjoyed this blog. I kind of ran out of steam during the last six months. It just seemed like there was not as much going on or there wasn't as much going on that was noteworthy. I was just working for Mr. Clinton!

Don't abandon me yet. Stay tuned for stateside musings.

Carrol, etc.





Sunday, June 9, 2013

This and that

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Five weeks from today I'll be on that big silver bird heading for Chicago!

Friday, JUNE 7, 2013

Actually, I just found out I'll be leaving here on Wed., July 10 and arriving in Chicago on July 11. Even better!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I seem to be having difficulty finishing this blog entry. I'm determined to finish it tonight!

I've learned some things about my travel back to the midwest. I will only be allowed two bags of no more than 27 kilos each (that eliminates Julia). Whereas the Clinton Foundation paid for my extra baggage on the way over, no one will pay for it going home. Actually, these have helped me make a decision. I will likely leave quite a bit here in my house. I'll try just to pack my clothes and see what happens!

This coming Thursday Miriam and I will go to Kigali for shopping. She said she knows where some good shops are and I need to look for gifts. I will be looking for small items!

Jerome (the director of the school and for whom I am supposed to be the advisor, and I are considering how to set up an exchange between the students at UIC (my school in Chicago) and the Byumba school here. For one thing, we've been told that he should get his Visa while I am still here to vouch for him in person. That will take a good day at the American Embassy. They are slow there, and not particularly helpful. We also need to consider some logistics of such a project. I would love to see it happen. Both groups of students will be in culture shock, but it would be good for them all. And I'm hoping this project would earn me trips back to Rwanda and some trips to Chicago for Jerome who is most anxious to go there. We shall see.

The cow and her cowlet are doing fine. The little group of chickens on campus have suddenly taken up residence in my yard. They can eat a few bugs. They no longer lay eggs, and I have a feeling they are too tough to cook. They, however, add a little to the general landscape out here in the boonies. I went to Kigali yesterday afternoon so some of my friends could take me out for a farewell dinner. I actually saw that the sorghum growing in the valley has grown a little seed head on it. And, Mike, I've been told that sorghum is the basis for one of Rwanda's most advertised beers. (Called Primus). I drank some one time and did not find it pleasing!

The restaurant we went to for our dinner last night was interesting. They have only two things on the menu: grilled chicken, and grilled fish. They serve it without cutlery of any kind. You wash your hands at one of several stations around the room, then just dig in with your fingers and hands. The flavor of both meats was terrific and it was fun just to eat with our hands. I especially enjoyed the fish. They grill one big fish and put it on a platter for you to have your way with! Of course, we were all sharing, but I'm convinced I could have eaten that fish all by myself!

 A group of administrators at the school has asked me to show them how to make cornbread. I think I'll have them over next weekend to show them. Most of them do not have ovens, so we're going to discuss how to make it over coals or some sort of stove. Rwandans are not dessert eaters; they do not clamber for new recipes for "baked goods". But somehow they really liked the cornbread I made for some event this past year. I guess I'll leave my small mark in this way.

Well, off to bed to rest up for another busy week. I'm going to begin experimenting with my packing to see how much 23 kilos is!

My best to all of you.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma

This and That

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Five weeks from today I'll be on that big silver bird heading for Chicago!

Friday, JUNE 7, 2013

Actually, I just found out I'll be leaving here on Wed., July 10 and arriving in Chicago on July 11. Even better!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I seem to be having difficulty finishing this blog entry. I'm determined to finish it tonight!

I've learned some things about my travel back to the midwest. I will only be allowed two bags of no more than 27 kilos each (that eliminates Julia). Whereas the Clinton Foundation paid for my extra baggage on the way over, no one will pay for it going home. Actually, these have helped me make a decision. I will likely leave quite a bit here in my house. I'll try just to pack my clothes and see what happens!

This coming Thursday Miriam and I will go to Kigali for shopping. She said she knows where some good shops are and I need to look for gifts. I will be looking for small items!

Jerome (the director of the school and for whom I am supposed to be the advisor, and I are considering how to set up an exchange between the students at UIC (my school in Chicago) and the Byumba school here. For one thing, we've been told that he should get his Visa while I am still here to vouch for him in person. That will take a good day at the American Embassy. They are slow there, and not particularly helpful. We also need to consider some logistics of such a project. I would love to see it happen. Both groups of students will be in culture shock, but it would be good for them all. And I'm hoping this project would earn me trips back to Rwanda and some trips to Chicago for Jerome who is most anxious to go there. We shall see.

The cow and her cowlet are doing fine. The little group of chickens on campus have suddenly taken up residence in my yard. They can eat a few bugs. They no longer lay eggs, and I have a feeling they are too tough to cook. They, however, add a little to the general landscape out here in the boonies. I went to Kigali yesterday afternoon so some of my friends could take me out for a farewell dinner. I actually saw that the sorghum growing in the valley has grown a little seed head on it. And, Mike, I've been told that sorghum is the basis for one of Rwanda's most advertised beers. (Called Primus). I drank some one time and did not find it pleasing!

The restaurant we went to for our dinner last night was interesting. They have only two things on the menu: grilled chicken, and grilled fish. They serve it without cutlery of any kind. You wash your hands at one of several stations around the room, then just dig in with your fingers and hands. The flavor of both meats was terrific and it was fun just to eat with our hands. I especially enjoyed the fish. They grill one big fish and put it on a platter for you to have your way with! Of course, we were all sharing, but I'm convinced I could have eaten that fish all by myself!

 A group of administrators at the school has asked me to show them how to make cornbread. I think I'll have them over next weekend to show them. Most of them do not have ovens, so we're going to discuss how to make it over coals or some sort of stove. Rwandans are not dessert eaters; they do not clamber for new recipes for "baked goods". But somehow they really liked the cornbread I made for some event this past year. I guess I'll leave my small mark in this way.

Well, off to bed to rest up for another busy week. I'm going to begin experimenting with my packing to see how much 23 kilos is!

My best to all of you.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Well, it’s been a while since I’ve made an entry in the old blog. I don’t have time for many more entries. 

I’ll be leaving Byumba on Thursday, July 11—less than two months from now. Once we got rolling, the time has really flown by.

Julia is growing so fast I can’t keep up with her. And between her and her mother, I think Julia is getting in the most “moos”. She can really let them rip.

I had to complete a new vacation and sick leave form for U. of I. this week. Once I leave here, I will have the remainder of July as vacation time. Wish I could go to some nice south sea island and really have a vacation. However, I’ll be preparing my fall classes, catching up on some IRB research stuff, and unpacking my house to try to make it livable before school begins. We’ll also be bidding farewell to Siena, son Mike’s older daughter, as she wends her way to New Orleans to attend her Freshman year at Tulane. I’m glad we still have a few years left at home with Serena, the younger daughter. She thinks it is going to be swell being the only child at home—I think she’ll find it gets old quickly.
Oh, yes. Sometime in here I must buy a car!

The school here at Byumba continues in it’s annual cycle. The first year students finally left to attend their first clinical practice sites. I am still going to try to get out to some of the Health Centers in the area (sort of like public health departments where there is also a midwife who delivers babies.) Toward the end of May I will have a presentation day for students and faculty. I will present the paper I have written based on the surveys Jerome, Rani-the-midwife, and I conducted at several different hospitals soon after our arrival. I will also present a brief paper about the healing powers of laughter. And finally, an ethnographic performance about the ride from Kigali to Byumba and what you see along the way. I still need to collect a little data for this one, but I could practically write it from memory as I’ve been on that return trip so many times.

I think we are finally past the big rainy season. It has not rained for about a week, although it has been quite cool. They tell me as the end of May comes, we will begin warmer weather and three months of the dry season (June, July and August). I’m ready for it! I have warm weather clothes I haven’t been able to wear for quite some time and my Chicago Bears long-sleeved t-shirt has seen better days!

Last week Jerome and I (the twins) attended a “Curriculum Review” workshop and got to go to a new (for me) place in Rwanda. We were supposed to have gone to Ruhingeri, the city where the gorillas are. At the last minute there was a landslide (after big rain) that came down on the main road. We couldn’t get to Ruhingeri So they changed everything quickly and we went to Rwawagama instead. We stayed in a guest house that once held nun’s cells—very quaint. We were sort of in a lock-down. They served us all our meals there plus two tea-times/day and the workshop space was adjacent to the guest house. This was not yet a change in the curriculum for all five of the nursing schools, but a review to see what we have. Since nursing is being moved over to the Ministry of Education instead of the Ministry of Health, we had to frame the curriculum more like the Education group does it. I thought a lot of it was boring. But there will be more in weeks to come. I told someone they wouldn’t pick me to do any more as I am generally too oppositional! We’ll see. In general, I think the entire curriculum needs to be re-designed, but I see a lot of “rubber stamping” going on. Some people just can’t let go.

I had to cab-it to the bank today to give them a passport photo. Two weeks ago they made me open a second account for my USDollars and demanded the photo. They were quite surly when I didn’t bring it in last Saturday. Yesterday I got a call from a young man who really brow-beat me (what is the past tense of "to browbeat"??) and said there would be dire consequences if I didn’t bring it today! This from a bank that does not even label its windows so one never knows quite where to go and where you sit in a long row of chairs awaiting your “turn” and move up the line while all the while others are cutting in. I do not do that as a muzungu must behave, but I surely want to sometimes.

The crows and the grasshoppers are back! I had 15-20 huge crows in my front yard one morning this past week, all cawing at once. I guess  it was a crow party. They can sure make a racket. My swiss chard is slowly dying out. I ate so much of it that I couldn’t eat any more. I think it thrives on being picked regularly. The grasshoppers have invaded my office, but no one else’s! They are not as plentiful as the scourge we had in the fall, but I don’t understand why my office. As soon as I open the door they begin jumping on me. They are up on the curtain rod, under my desk, everywhere! Then Anthere, Jerome’s assistant, wants to get “the girl” to come mop the floor which does little to deter the insects, as they are all over the room, not just on the floor.  Thus, a scene of domestic bliss in the administrative offices at Byumba School of Nursing and Midwifery. I will surely miss all the characters in these little plays. They are not like the plays in the College of Nursing, but many of the characters are the same!

Bye for now.
CA, Mom, Ma, Carrol, G-ma







Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I just finished washing the dishes. I had to hurry to do it before dark. The light in the kitchen is quite low and if I wait to do the dishes till after dark, I cannot see whether they are clean or not!

I had a trip to Kigali this week for a meeting, then a quick return to Byumba so I could attend a meeting with Jerome. The person who came for the meeting was from the "BEC" some sort of education group delivering good news/bad news. We will be receiving many such visitors in the next couple of months. Everything is being revised (curriculum, job categories, etc) Also, all the nursing schools are being moved from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Education. Thus, all the visitors/inspectors.

I have found the Rwandans love declarations. Any piece of paper on which they can affix the school seal is good. But then, the storage of all that paper is problematic. It takes one full time person! So, all these visitors will be leaving stacks of paper. Jerome has to sign every request. He explained to me that many Rwandans cannot be trusted so every request has to have a paper trail.

Our weather is still fairly cool and with lots of rain. Can't wait for May.

I don't feel that I have much to say tonight. I am buckling down to finish projects, so spend a lot of time in my office. Jerome goes back and forth from Byumba to Kigali to Byumba again. I have to catch him on the fly. He favors Kigali as that is where his home and family are. His two big boys (6 yrs, and 4 yrs have decided they want me to come for a sleepover! I will probably decline as I might have to sleep with one or both of those wiggly little guys.

Julia is continuing to grow. I've never seen an animal grow so fast.

I think my supper is ready. Cornbread and fresh green beans.

So long for now,
CA




Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013






Julia in her crib.

Carrol almost in the crib with Julia

Baby cow news! We now have a name for Julia. And I am attaching photos. The first is from outside the cow shed and you can only see her through the "slats" of her crib. The second one I took when I actually went into the cow shed and got right up by the crib. She is pretty skittish when I get that close, but will finally lick my hand with her slobbery mouth and nose. After the first several days of mostly sleeping, I went out and found Julia standing up in her crib and practicing her "moo-ing"--very quiet little attempts at sounding like a cow. At present, she can already moo like a big girl! I look for her to be climbing out of that crib one day soon.

I've been conducting more classes at the hospital of late which are mostly lots of fun. I can only understand English. There is usually someone who can interpret the French or Kinyarwanda, so that helps. I was to begin a series of ESL classes yesterday at 5PM when people get off work. (Day shift works 7A to 5P; night shift works 5P till 7A. Only two shifts.)Some of the nurses had asked me for the English classes. I was there in plenty of time and waited till almost 5:20. No one had showed up, so I left. The Dir. of Nursing called me before 8AM today asking what happened. After I told him my side, he said 10 people showed up sometime after 5:20. I don't believe him for a second--he's not a very reliable guy. I told him the reason we needed to start on time is that I have to walk home afterwards and I wanted to get home before dark. That is between 6 and 6:15. Rwandans are habitually late to everything, so I wasn't surprised that no one showed up on time. However, I'm sticking to my guns this time. It will be a massive amount of work to put on three classes/wk and they're going to have to cater to me!!

I'm writing a paper based on the interviews of the staff nurses, clinical instructors and students we surveyed soon after I got here-75 people altogether. It is turning out to be pretty interesting data. I want to get it finished up, however. It's been dragging on a bit too long.

I'm going to include some other photos here, of my Swiss Chard. It has lasted a very long time. Now, I can only stand to eat it about once/wk.
Julia said she had to see you one more time.








Gorgeous on the table, too!

















My March planting is coming along. I have Chinese cabbage, mixed salad greens, beets, and either zucchini or cucumbers (One came up and the other didn't) I'll definitely be eating these before I leave. I give a lot of chard away. No one so far has known what it was or how versatile it is for cooking.

That's all for now. Hope you enjoy the photos.
CA, G-ma, Ma, Mom, Carrol

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dear Faithful Readers:

Big news! Chelsea the cow gave birth last weekend to a baby girl cow. I haven't been able to think of a good name yet. The cow caretaker built her a little raised bed. Everytime I've been to see her she is asleep on her bed. I'll enjoy watching her grow until I leave.

My entry tonight will include no photos. I've had such a difficult time posting entries with photos, I cannot bear to try again just now. Twice I attempted to post pictures of our visit to a Maasai village in Tanzania, only to have all my work disappear just before I posted it. That's what did me in!

My life here in Byumba has taken a rather frantic turn and I expect it to remain this way pretty much until I leave for the U.S. I now go to the Byumba District Hospital to teach staff nurses and to look around for things they might need to do differently. The list grows long.

I am also observing random faculty members in their classrooms. Jerome wants me to develop a faculty evaluation form.

I also learned on Friday that I was being recommended for a position on a Curriculum Revision committee. If I end up on the committee, I will have to go away for four weeks (the weeks will be spread out) to a remote town to work on the undergraduate curriculum. That is going to eat into my time.

The hospital nursing education is not without difficulty. The physician's can speak English, but their preferred language is French. They even chart in French. The nurses speak only Kinyarwanda, and I speak only English!! Sometimes the docs will do some translating for the nurses. One day last week the Director of the Hospital came to a class and did a great job translating. Some of the nursing students also speak some English and can translate. But I never know what the combination of people will be in a given class. The doctors are beginning to sit in on the classes. There is little room in the hospital for people to gather for a class, so we are usually crammed into a very small space. Even with all these impediments, the classes have gone well. People participate, ask questions, and ask me to return. I don't think they are used to getting this kind of attention.

I was in Kigali on Friday and Saturday for meetings and a party. Just came home in the early afternoon today. I now stay in a hotel when I must stay overnight in Kigali. Don, Kate (my brother and daughter) and I stayed at the Golf Hills Residence in January. They were very nice to us and I have been back several times since then. It's more like a B&B than a hotel. They have a lovely breakfast that is part of the fee for a room. I had begun to feel as if I were imposing too frequently on the families of my two friends, so this is perfect.

I'm done for tonight. I will try to be a more regular "blogger" once again. And may gradually try some photos. But not right away.

Have a good week.
Carrol

P.S. We have begun the "big rainy season" which falls in March and April. It rains nearly every day, and rains in torrents. One evening I was sitting in my dining room while a lot of lightening flashed with the rain. Suddenly I saw lightning strike in my kitchen! That was a little too close for me!





Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I was so disheartened when, three weeks ago, I put in all my photos of the safari in Tanzania and all the text that went along with them, and somehow it got erased when I published it. I haven't been able to get myself to do it over again until now. But the photos are good (some are daughter, Kate's) and we had such a good time, I had to get back to it! It was just this date one month ago that we returned to Rwanda from Tanzania and Kate and Don (my brother) flew back to the U.S. on the 25th. I'm afraid their visit made me more homesick. It is a good thing my tenure here is more than half over.

After we had seen the gorillas we headed straight for Kigali again so we could fly to Arusha, Tanzania. It took us a whole day to get there (about 490 miles) as we changed planes on the way in Nairobi and Dar es Saalam. Actually, the plan flew into Kilomanjaro instead of Arusha, so we got to see the famous mountain. I wish we had had time to get out of the airports in those cities so I could really get a feel for them, but that was not the case. We took a cab the 70 miles to Arusha and once there we spent the night and found our safari outfit the next AM. Charles was our cook and Bryceson was our guide/driver. We were the only ones in the overland truck so we had Charles and Bryceson to ourselves which was very nice. We camped in tents at night. We just had to place any food (my Peppermint Bark!!) in the truck as the bushpigs are always on the lookout.

The first of the four days out we did a game drive in Manyara National Park. We saw elephants, giraffes, and the first of many lions. This elephant was only a few feet from our truck! This giraffe is watching us watching herself! I wonder if they know how beautiful they are?








The baby zebra above is kicking up his heels, but no one seems to pay any attention. The reddish color you see is true--this is an immature zebra.










The second and third days on safari we spent on the famous Serengeti Plain (Serengeti means "Endless") and, yes, it did seem endless for as far as the eye could see. This is where we really began to see lots of game.



These are the wildebeests. They and the zebras are  two of the large groups that migrate around the Serengeti every year in a big circle, following the rainfall. The wildebeests calve in February. The main part of the migration happens in May, June, and July. Many babies are lost at this time. Here is a great website explaining the migration in more detail--better than I would! http://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/info/serengeti-wildebeest-migration




Not gorgeous, but interesting.










The next several photos are of lions and leopards.


Lioness resting in tree.


This pride had recently killed a wildebeest. Each has a piece to eat!


The following is a sequence of shots of a pride moving from one place to another. It is treacherous with all the babies.






Look closely at the two cats on the bottom branch.


You should have seen the stars while we were out on the Serengeti. No obstacles and no lights. The stars were fantastic. We saw Orion every night even though he is considered a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere.

I think I will stop for now and not try to do too much at once. There is still much more to come from this fantastic trip.

























 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2/03/13 Hoping to finish this travel section today!

Dear Readers: I shall now try to give you a few details about my travels with daughter, Kate, and brother, Don.

The trip to see the gorillas was the first thing on our list. These are the heirs of the gorillas with whom Dian Fossey did her research back in the 1970s. In fact, some of those very gorillas are still alive now. They are very carefully cared for in the Verunga volcanoes. Early in the morning of any gorilla treks guides go up to locate the eight families that people can see. Then as small groups begin to ascend the mountains toward the gorilla families, led by a couple more guides and several porters, they all keep in radio communication with one another. Then if the gorillas move around, the guides can keep the group of trekkers on target. Only about 60 people can go on the treks each day. The government sells permits so they can keep track of how many people are going on any given day. It costs $750.00 USD for one permit. Mine was slightly less since I have a work visa. We "found" our family about 1&1/2 hours after starting out. Here are several photos. This is called the "Lucky" family. It was formed by one big "silverback" male when he became disgruntled at being the third male in the pecking order of another family. He found several females willing to follow him and now there is a family of about 17, with several babies, two of whom are twins. Twins are quite rare among gorillas.

We weren't supposed to get any closer than about 5 feet to the gorillas. Unfortunately, the gorillas don't know how to measure distances! One baby was quite interested in Kate and began to approach her. The guide made Kate move back. They only let you stay to watch the family for one hour and that time flew by. Then we had to make our way back down the mountain. The babies (one, two, and three years old) never walked anywhere. They did somersaults till they got where they wanted to be. One baby practiced beating on his chest like a big boy! I do not have a photo of that. During our hour, the big Daddy decided to take a nap. When he naps, everyone naps! So there wasn't a lot of activity for part of our hour. On our way to the gorillas our guide, Kiranga, took us through the mountains where we saw a huge tea plantation. We have learned to tell tea by its color--lighter green than most of the vegetation. The tea completely filled a long valley--it looked like it might never stop! Really beautiful.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Well, after almost a month I resume my blog again!

What a trip we had. There were a few little challenges but basically we got everywhere on time and on the right day. We saw the mountain gorillas (here is a small enticement for you--a one-year-old baby, one of twins).

We got to Tanzania and met up with our safari crew (our driver/guide and our cook) on 1/19, and took off for our wild animal experience. We first visited Manyara National Park.There was a beautiful lake there and we saw our first lion. The second and third days we were on the Serengetti Plain, the last day were down inside the Ngorongoro Crater. "The jewel in Ngorongoro's crown is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest un flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder." Part of our time near the crater was spent with a village of Maasai people. Photos to follow. See map below for area of Tanzania we visited. More to follow.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013
Just prior to my travels

This entry is mainly to tell you of my schedule for the next three weeks. I will not have access to my computer, so no blogging will be done during this time.

Tomorrow I leave for Kigali for a series of meetings on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'll be staying with my friend, Cairn and her husband and getting around by cab.

On Friday evening my brother, Don, arrives at 8PM. We will go to our lodgings to await daughter, Kate's arrival the next morning. Once Kate gets in we'll go to the bank and the currency exchange, then come up to Byumba for a couple of days so they can see where I hang out and get over their jet lag. When we arrive here, they're going to think they have been invaded by white people! I'm usually the only one!

On Tuesday, 1/16, Kirenga, my trusty guide will pick us up here in Byumba and drive us to the Volcanos on the northern border of Rwanda. We'll go on our gorilla trek the next day and return to Byumba on the 17th.

On the 18th we'll fly from Kigali to Arusha. Interestingly, it will take 10 hours to get to Arusha (it is only 500 miles) as we must go by way of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam! There are no direct flights. In Tanzania we'll be picked up the next day by our safari people. We'll be out with them for four days and three nights. They'll return us to Arusha and we'll fly back to Kigali. By then it will almost be time for Don and Kate to fly home. We'll just stay in Kigali untill I get them off. Then I'll return to my ordinary life at Byumba.

My only fear is that something will go wrong with those flights. Rani, my midwife friend here, had a very bad experience with Rwandair when she went to Dubai over the holidays. And we leave Kigali on Rwandair! I'm just going to think positively.

I've had a pretty quiet week here. No one really came back on campus until Wed, and then just a few people trickled in the rest of the week. I did have a nice New Year's Day. Anthere's family invited me to dinner. Anthere picked me up on foot (they do not have a car) and we walked to their house. It's quite close in a small community just down the road from the school. Yvette prepared a very traditional meal: goat, peas and bananas cooked together, chips (like French Fries), casava leaves pounded into a kind of mush, and I took some cornbread. They were fascinated by the cornbread. Ordinary Rwandans to not bake anything--they have no ovens in their kitchens. I thought I took a nice plateful of food and I enjoyed everything but the casava. I was full when I finished, but they kept insisting I take more! I know it was a lot of work for Yvette to do the cooking, but I think I failed b/c I did not eat more. I have seen the faculty here just pile their plates six or seven inches high when we have faculty lunch. I would pop if I ate that much, but it seems to be the thing to do.

There is a garden green called dodo that gets pounded the same way the casava did. At the market there are women who wield big wooden paddles, sort of like a long pestle, and they have a log with a big hole in the cut end. They place the dodo or casava leaves down in the hole then just pound the heck out of those leaves--literally, till they are mush. I'll try to get a picture of the women sometime after I get back.

When we were talking about ovens, etc., Anthere promised to take me to their kitchen. After eating I got the tour. The kitchen is completely detached from the house and is not too big a room. There is one table in the room. Everything that cannot fit on the table is on the floor. To make a cooked dish, Yvette uses charcoal in a little pan with a ring attached above to set a pot in. She only had two of those. The kitchen contained many sacks of dry goods, beans, rice, corn meal (since I've had such a hard time finding it I asked Yvette where she got hers (of course this all had to be translated by Anthere and he's not that great with English!) Apparently the refugees at our Congolese refugee camp in Byumba get food deliveries from UNHCR , then they sell it on the black market!--I'm quite sure I don't want to get into that!). She had a big pan of cooked rice and a huge bowl of milk. They receive 2 Liters of milk delivered every day and do not have to refrigerate it as they drink it all. Mostly they drink hot milk, so really no need for refrigeration.
There was not a refrigerator at all. It seems she just stores things in pots till they eat them. I understand a little better now why my Miriam never wanted to put anything in the refrigerator when she first came--and probably only does it now for my benefit!

In the kitchen I was struck with how few foods there were of different kinds. I think the Rwandan diet is not broad. Little meat is served (one student told me the only time his family had meat was Christmas and New Year). Everyone drinks milk, as cow's milk is revered. Otherwise the diet is spare.

I enjoyed Anthere and Yvette's children. Just two were with us; the older boy was in Kigali with his grandmother. They were very lively and they loved the cornbread! Toward the end of our visit they were trying to teach me some new words in Kinyarwanda. I was not a great student!

I think I'd better end here.

Talk to you after my travels.
Me


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Day, 2013

Happy New Year to all my faithful blog readers!

Something exciting will happen in February, 2013. Our cow, Chelsea, will have a calf. I believe our male cow, Clint, must claim paternity as he is the only other cow around. Congratulations to the mooing duo.
C.