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.