Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lessons for a Rainy Day

il pleut in french, stair rods in our British neighbor's vernacular, and cats and dogs from where I come from. Anyway you choose to say it; today it rained. hard.

Rainstorms come up quickly and with little notice. The wind picks up and storm clouds gather in an instant. It rains a lot, in fact, and I walk a lot -- when you put those odds together, well.

Once, walking back from town the bottom fell out; I was half way to town, half way home, and a long way from any covering. I stopped running as it picked up and succumbed to a slow defeated pace. Some people ran past; but I was too far away from home for it to make any difference except to my pride. I was dripping from head to toe and mud all along my ankles when I saw a carload of familiar faces waving me down in a passing jeep. "Get in!" Pastor Adrian yelled. Pastor Sam climbed into the back and I was soon shivering happily and chatting away in a car full of friends. The ride did little much in my state of saturation, but we had quite a fun impromptu visit.

Today, I walked home from the bus station in town. I knew I wouldn't make it home before it rained; I just hoped I would get close. Big drops began to fall and then a heavy drizzle. I opened my bag optimistically although knowing full well that I had, again, forgotten any sort of rain gear. I stopped underneath magazin chine for cover. It lightened to a mist and once again I was off. I made it all the way to the Catholic church before having to stop again.

People along my same pace headed to the church for cover and I, in fact, took my cue from them doing the same. There were many people already huddled under the awning. We were all there together; waiting out the rain as a community. The rain picked up so that even motos pulled off the road to seek shelter under the awning. One of them carrying as their passenger a friend from St. Etienne. Not knowing much Kinyaranda and her not much English we exchanged pleasantries and smiles. The small awning providing a place to catch up, neighbor with neighbor.

We slowly drifted out from underneath the awning. Each in accordance to his level of bravery. Soon after making an exodus of my own, I passed by the two guards outside the Russian embassy who have befriended Rob and me. Our friendship began after I first cracked them up early upon our arrival by running into a low hanging awning with my umbrella. (rain gear can be tricky). Since that unfortunate event they always speak and smile. They often see Rob and I walking into or out of town together and ask about our day. As I walked by, I smiled and stated in defense of my appearance, "il pleut." "Yego, I-M-V-U-R-A" they instructively replied. "Imvura" I responded, nodding that I had grasped their mini language lesson.

I spent the rest of the walk home ignoring the rain and chanting to myself, "imvura imvura imvura." I hoped to remember it so that I could impress the guards that stand at our gate. Like a child, I spoke my new word to anyone who gave a friendly nod my way and received affirmations of "Yego", smiles, and giggles. Finally arriving at the gate I triumphantly exclaimed, "IMVURA." Our guard burst forth the biggest smile I've seen from him yet and replied, "Yego, imvura cyane". Indeed, it was raining a lot.

In the end, my forgotten rain gear provided the perfect setting for a contextual language lesson to take place that won't soon be forgotten. However, I must say that I also wouldn't mind learning the Kinyarwanda word for umbrella.

1 comment:

  1. What a funny story! I love hearing about your exploits and the relationships that you and Rob are developing.