Friday, November 14, 2008

In Kigali - The first days

On the way out we were introduced to one of the bishops of the diocese, who also warmly greeted us. We loaded our luggage in the bed of the truck and rode windows down through Kigali, around 15 minutes to the HOPE compound. The ride was fun. I felt like we were in a documentary of Africa. Women in traditional wear, kids running in the street and walking home in uniforms from school. Small buses filled to the brim with people fighting motorcycle taxis for road space. Lots of sounds, horns, music, kids, shouting, traffic. It was great to get fresh air after being in so many airplanes and to finally feel like we were in Africa after such a long journey.

As we pulled up to the gates Musoni honked and lazarus opened the door for us. (Lazarus is a dog). Then the guard opened it more fully and let us in. On your Left coming into the compound is the HOPE house. It is bright yellow and homey. It will be our home December 13 when Malu leaves. The downstairs has 2 baths, a living/dining room combo. A kitchen fully equipped with a triple strength water filtration system, refrigerator, oven, pantry and storage closet. Right outside the kitchen is where the laundry is hung to dry. We haven’t yet seen the upstairs but there are 2 bedrooms and a bath.
Farther down the hill to the right is Mercy house. This is where we are currently staying for our first month. It is also bright yellow. It has a wonderful patio area and front porch, where we took the video. I think Janet washes it daily, (more about Janet later). We sat outside last night and talked as night fell on Kigali. It was beautiful and relaxing, but also made me feel how far away we were from home and how foreign this new place was. I pulled out my crocheting and felt better as rob read and I worked on Tiffany’s baby blanket. There was something soothing about returning to your normal after being exposed to such newness.
Mercy house has many bed and bathrooms. Janet is like the house mom. She takes care of us, cooks, washes and cleans. It is great to have her while we are new to the country. It makes it a smooth transition to not have to think about buying groceries, cooking and cleaning while we are learning so many other things. We have a cozy bed with a romantic mosquito net hanging down. The misquito net is not really needed at all. I just like it. Here in Kigali, malaria is RARE. It is only begins to be a concern when you leave and go to the villages. However, most people here do not take malaria drugs and so there is some comfort for them in the nets. We also have a W.C. (toilet room) and then a shower room. We will share these two rooms with Roger when he arrives later tonight. Roger is a boss to Rob while we are here. He arrives on the 7:15 flight, which likely means 8:30 for the Kenya Airways flights into Kigali.
Our first night here we had dinner with Malu, her son, and a woman from Ghana studying to be a doctor, who is also staying in the house for the month. Janet made rice, chips (fries), cooked green beans, carrots and onion dish (It was really well done Ted you would have loved it), and a fish sauce. It was really good. The most flavorful baby bananas were served for dessert. Rob and I had a few minutes to sort out our stuff before crashing for the night.
The next morning we woke and had a great breakfast prepared by Janet. We had tea (much more common to drink everyday here because it is far less expensive than coffee - and also due to the French influence in Rwanda. We also had toast with jam in a can, a type of nutella spread that also has hazelnut flavoring, and scrambled eggs that have a strong eggy flavor.

We left to go to Nakumatt the super expensive grocery for expats and diplomats and price groceries. More info on that in Rob's blog, but lets just say 6 cereal bars there cost $20. No worries, we can survive with out cereal bars. The good news is we will be eating lots of healthy fresh foods like potatoes, carrots, green beans, and spinach, etc. Malu is taking me to the two markets she shops in tomorrow. One for dry goods, one for produce. After Nakumatt we exchanged money : 500 KRF for 1 USD is the current exchange rate. Then we headed to bourbon cafe for coffee/coke and a recap of the day.

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