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Entries "September 2005":

Tuesday, 27 September 2005



A blog entry on a Tuesday.  It is my "journee pedagogique" so I'm in Butare running some errands and hanging out at the internet cafe.  I think I may just have managed to upload a whole bunch of photos onto flickr, so check it out and see.  My fingers are crossed as they are still uploading.  It's not all my pictures and they're not a full resolution but it should give you an idea.  All is well.  The English club is performing their play this weekend at another school so I won't make it to the internet cafe for a while.  I hope to take some good pictures of their performance so stay tuned.  Anyways, I'm taking Mitenko's advise and keeping it short this time.  I have to go pick up a CD that I'm having burned for 1500 rwf for the dance club.  It includes great songs like "I want it that way" and You're still the one and a variety of hits by West Life. 


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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 24 September 2005

ahhhh finally a better internet cafe

Well, my last two blog entries were written under duress as I had been sitting for countless minutes watching the screen load.  This time, I have a much better computer and a much better connection.  Thanks to the Brian at travelblog.com for paying attention!  It's good to know you're out there. 

So, week three at PTTC Mbuga ended without any problems.  The students seem to be understanding me a bit better everyday although I have heard the occasional student complain that "Canadian English" is difficult.  They find almost everything I do funny, except those things which I intend for them to laugh at, like my jokes.  When I walk in the room and say 'hello', they laugh.  Why????  One student told me that they were just so happy to see me, but I suspect there's more to it.  When I say anything in Kinyarwanda, they laugh.  When I sneeze, they laugh.  When I erase the board, they laugh.  When I tell them a joke, silence.  This week I brought my digital camera to school and took pictures of students and teachers.  The students practically mobbed me when they realized it was a digital camera and they could see the pictures.  I soon realized that I would have to take a picture of every student, so I deleted many of them later.  Back at the house, I took some pictures of the neighbourhood children and they were mystified by it.  I took a few short videos and then let them watch.  The first one, they weren't aware that I was filming so they are going about their business, playing some game with marbles.  The subsequent ones involve dozens of children demonstrating martial arts moves, singing and generally acting up for the camera.  I hope to burn them onto a CD and send them home. 

As for pictures, I hope to do the same, burn them onto a CD and send them home to my webmaster (Gail aka mom) who will post them on flickr.  Unless I have some other  bright idea.  In the mean time feel free to check out Geert's website which contains pictures very similar to mine, except I didn't take a picture of the pit latrine, but there's no accounting for taste.

All week, I try to think of things that I need to post on my blog to give you, the viewers, and idea of what my life is like here.  So this week I thought I'd give you an idea of what I have been eating.  In the morning my breakfast usually consists of some bread and a banana.  For  a while I had peanut butter but it is far too expensive.  If there is electricity, I make myself a cup of tea with milk powder and some "chai tea" spices.  Otherwise, we've been eating quite a lot of pasta with tomatoes and green peppers.  I have the house boy cook beans once or twice a week as they take hours to cook, and I'm at work all day.  He has also made plantains for us a couple of times because I don't know how the heck to cook them.  We've also been eating a lot of sweet potatoes because well, I bought an obsene amount of them at the market.  You see, when I go to the market in Gasarenda, I am surrounded by swarms of people.  I'm not exaggerating, swarms.  Anyways, I asked how much for the sweet potatoes which the woman had stacked into neat little piles, probably representing a kilo each.  She said "ijana" (100 rwfs = approx 30cents).  I said, ok I'll take ijana.  At this point there mob of people was closing in so they could all see and hear what the white lady was saying.  The lady looked confused as though what I was requesting was impossible.  I looked around for help and then stupidly though to myself.  Well ijana must not be enough.  So I said "maganabiri" (200 rwfs worth).  That was almost 3 weeks ago and we're still eating those sweet potatoes.  I quickly learned that, at the market, ijana goes a long way, which is a good thing because I'm feeding more mouths every day.  Jean-Pierre, a little boy from a poor family in the village, comes over to eat lunch almost every day.  It's a relationship that has evolved over the last few weeks. 

Anyways, thanks again to everyone who sent me an e-mail.  Paula, I look forward to your letter.  I think about you all often and I always love to hear news from Canada, no matter how mundane it may seem to you.  When I'm here, I fantasize about going to Shopper's Drug Mart or driving down the QEW, honestly the brain is a weird and wonderful thing.  Take care!

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 17 September 2005

the entry is in the comment, I cant seem to access my blog in the normal fashion.

 Okay I think I've fixed it, Mom

cathie78 on September 17, 2005 at 11:47 AM
Alright, I don't know what the heck is going on but when I try to submit an entry to my blog, it gives me no space to write, only the title. ???? As usual sitting in front of a computer here is extremely frustrating. Every time I click on something it takes oh a good five minutes for anything to appear on the screen. breathe in breathe out. OK my internet rage is gone.
Thanks a million for the comments and emails guys. They gave me some much needed laughs. As you can probably guess, I'm back in butare and I survived week two of work. So far I am in charge of the English club and have agreed to help out with the dance club and the human rights club. I have to learn to say no. I've been taking my guitar to school every day so that the music teacher can use it in his class. The music classes have no instruments, so it's pretty much just theory. The guitar they had before was a hand made guitar with crooked strings that could not be tuned and were so thick they hurt the fingers. So, my guitar is making the rounds. It is a big hit here with adults and children alike. It's one of the many things that I am really glad I brought. Along with the leatherman (thanks dad), duct tape, sewing kit (thanks mom, already fixed my pants), basil (oh how I love basil), and many other things. Also thanks to Cristal for the worry dolls, they do wonders to soothe the mind. I know I already said this before but thanks to everyone who wrote in my little book or who gave me a card or letter. I re-read them all the time.
Val, my aim is improving, that's all I have to say. Adam, I'm pretty sure it's a pig but thanks for the warning. Oh and the compression bag for the sleeping bag is very useful, and the sleeping bag is very comfortable, thanks for your expertise. Shout out to the pool, I miss you!
cathie78 on September 17, 2005 at 12:15 PM
Hi folks,
just checked my sympatico account and some of you are sending emails to it (Carole and Kendra...) I'm not going to be checking it much so you're better off sending to my yahoo. (last name firstname (cathie) @ yahoo.ca)
Well, I think it's time to go to the market. I'm going to buy some new sandals because my birkenstocks stink and my other shoes kill my feet!!! I'm also going to buy some writing paper so that I can write some good old fashioned letters. I look forward to mail that I think is coming.
Love you all

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on September 19, 2005 at 5:49 AM
Saturday, 10 September 2005

f****ing computers

OK, right now I'm extremely frustrated because I have been trying to upload pictures from my camera for the last 45 minutes and it's not working.  Unless a miracle occurs, you will have to wait another while.  I haven't taken that many pictures anyways because people are fairly sensitive about having their photos taken here so I'm waiting until people know me a little better.  I do have pictures of the house though, but you'll just have to wait.

So the first week in Gasarenda is over and I'm still alive.  It has been a difficult week with highs and lows.  My homesickness kicked in full-force the first morning in the new house.  Something about no running water and having to squat over a small square hole makes one long for the comforts of home.  Life has improved since then though and I'm starting to feel at home in my little house.  Geert and I got the mosquitoe nets up on ??Tuesday night?? and now I can sleep soundly knowing that the little creepy crawllies won't disturb my slumber.  Wednesday was my first day of classes and so far everything is going well.  I started by introducing myself and showing them pictures of Canada and of my family.  They were all extremely perplexed by the picture of my cousin Becky making a snowman.  I showed them some pictures of students from Heart Lake and they were surprised to see that not all Canadians are white blondes.  Some of the boys were particularily interested in pictures of the girls at Heart Lake and wanted to be their "correspondants". 

Some of the highlights so far have been meeting the other teachers.  Generally they are very friendly and easy to talk to.  Another one of my favourite things has been the little neighbourhood children who knock on the gate so that they can hang out and play my guitar.  I have started giving them little Canada pins and they wear them with pride.  We have met one of our neighbours who is the mother of a few of the little ones who come knocking.  She has been helpful with cooking advice.  Also, we didn't know what to do with our garbage and she told us that she has a pig so now we save all the vegetable peelings and scraps and give them to her.  Generally the days are tiring and work is hard.  I'm hoping life will get a bit easier once our house boy starts working on MOnday.  That's right, our house boy.  HE will come in five days a week and clean, do laundry, go to the market, etc.  It's a luxury I know, but almost a necessity given how long we work and how difficult it is just to get dinner prepared every night.  There's no pizza delivery!

Anyways, just wanted to let you all know that I'm doing fine.  I am homesick and I miss you all very much.  I appreciate all the e-mails (mom, sister, dad, Tamara, Suzanne, Judy, Jen R., etc) and those of you who are writing comments and I"m sorry that I can't respond to every one but I really do love reading them and hearing from you.  Judy, I trust that you'll keep the Jack Johnson CD safe.  I remembered that I had left it at work but couldn't get there before I left. 

Dad, I won't get to a computer again before your birthday so have a great one!!  I'll be thinking of you and your card's in the mail.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Thursday, 01 September 2005

Really Rural

Wow, I hope you all don't get too used to this.  This is the third day in a row I'm in front of a computer.  I've got to get my fix before I take off to the country.  Everyone keeps telling me that where I'm living is "REally rural".  What do they mean exactly?  Are they referring to the fact that if I want to catch a bus to the capital I'll have to leave at 5 in the morning?  Are they referring to the fact that I will have no toilet but just a hole in the ground?  I guess I'll have to wait and see.  Took the taxi bus into town with Guillaume today (another new VSO volunteer) and we got to practice our Kinyarwanda.  I'm getting pretty good at the basics:  Mu Mujyi (downtown)  N'angahe? (how much) n'vuga ikinyarwanda bohoro bohoro (I speak Kinyarwanda slowly slowly) or my favourite murakoze cyane sinshaka (thanks you very much but I don't want it).  Anyways it's lots of fun and people are so amused by the mzungu trying to speak the language. 

The children are still my favourite thing here though I"m told the chanting and "mzungu" shouting gets on your nerves after a while.  Will post pictures in a while but taking pictures of people here is a pretty touchy issue so I"m going to wait until I'm settled and people know me a bit better and then I'll bring out the camera.  I did take pictures of the gecko in my room though so I'll post that when I get a chance. 


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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on September 1, 2005 at 9:41 PM