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Entries "December 2005":

Saturday, 31 December 2005

Happy New Year

Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas.  I have to admit it didn't feel like Christmas here, even with Bing Crosby, but we did make an effort.  We sat on the beach with a mini Christmas tree surrounded in sand.  We ate chocolates and even drank mulled wine and sang Christmas carols at the British Embassy.  Even though it didn't feel like the holiday season, I had a great time.  I did spend a few days on the beach.  Swimming in Lake Kivu was divine.  On boxing day I took a few people with me to Passevu centre to play music for some kids.  PASSEVU is an organisation that provides a range of opportunities for vulnerable children (orphans, street kids).  Follow the link to read a little bit about them.  I have to say that it was amazing to see a place where kids actually had access to toys, games and books, especially books, something children here really crave.  On Monday we played guitar, sang Christmas carols, danced.  Guillaume played some great irish jigs and the kids went wild.  PASSEVU is a really wonderful organisation run by Volunteers for Peace.  If anyone out there is thinking they'd like to do something for Rwandan children I would really recommend a donation to this organisation.  (E-mail [email protected], Postal BP 4261 Kigali, Rwanda)  Also for those teachers out there, Andre Nsabiyera (one of the founders and directors of PASSEVU) is always looking for children of all ages to become pen-pals with the kids from the centre. 

I came back to Kigali on Wednesday and have been lounging around at Laura and Guillaume (vols.) 's place.  Laura cut my hair  yesterday and it feels great.  Sorry Dave and Ryan, I couldn't make it all the way back to Salon Red. Tonight a group of us are going to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Cocktails, dinner, possible fireworks put on by the city of Kigali, and we'll see what else.  Then it's back to Butare and back to Gasarenda.  School is to start again on the 9th of January. I want to get back in time to be one of the first to negociate a timetable.  Antonia and I have this big idea for a joint venture that will culminate in a large theatrical production.  As a result I want to have Friday's as my 'journee pedagogique' so that I can run Sunday rehearsals and still have a weekend.  We shall see. 
That's all for now.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on June 24, 2006 at 9:47 PM
Thursday, 22 December 2005

Merry Christmas

    It's hard to believe it's Christmas time as I sit here sweating profusely in this internet cafe.  Still no rain, I guess the dry season has begun?  I never thought I would long for rain.  Even at 8 in the morning it's hot and the red dust in the air sticks to my damp skin.  I'm in Kigali today, trying to make sense of this city.  Today I've been pretty lucky.  I haven't been lost once and I've managed to get 4 errands done and it's only 11 in the morning.  Usually I find one thing a day is all I can realistically expect in this country.
    This morning I went to the Doctor at the Belgian Embassy for my malaria follow-up.  He says I'm perfect, which you all knew anyways.  Thank-you all for your concern, but really the malaria wasn't nearly as bad as the cold I just had. 
    I'm heading to Gisenyi for Christmas with some other foreigners.  If all goes according to plan, I will be spending Christmas day swimming in the lake and lying on the beach.  To the groans of some of the other volunteers I have brought the Christmas CDs that my mother sent.  I don't care what anyone says but it's not Christmas without Bing Crosby! 
    Thanks also to everyone who has been sending me packages, cards, letters.  I always feel like a special girl when I go to the Post Office. 
    Three more sleeps everyone!  Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope Santa treats you well.

Noel Nziza!

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on December 22, 2005 at 3:20 PM
Friday, 16 December 2005

Have you ever wondered...?

It's something that you do at least once a year, clean out your closet, put the clothes that you don't want anymore in a bag, and send them off to the charity of your choice.  Do you ever wonder what happens to those clothes?  Do you ever hold up a t-shirt that has been sitting in your drawer for years and wonder "who's ever going to wear this?".  Well, I know now what happens to all those shirts.  I've seen a young girl wearing a blue sweatshirt that read "World's best Grand-ma".  I've seen a young man wearing what used to be a little girl's night shirt, covered in teddy-bears and pink hearts.  I've seen a friend's maid wearing a Calgary Flames sweatshirt, a man on a taxi bus wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs hat, and a store owner wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey.  All these people have never heard of ice hockey before.  People walk about with slogans spread across their chests, advertising things they've never heard of.  I've seen Canadian Tire t-shirts, sweatshirts from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and Kings backpacks are EVERYWHERE.  My favourite though?  There's a woman up the path from my house.  She's a primary school teacher with a sweet innocent smile and a boyish figure.  I'll never forget the day I saw her on her way to work proudly sporting a "Hooters" t-shirt...

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Thursday, 15 December 2005


Well someone once said if you haven't had malaria then you've never been to Africa.  Well folks, I've been to Africa, had malaria and survived.  I had a short bout of it, cured it with 6 pills and am now fine and dandy.  Not to worry.  It was certainly an experience I would not like to repeat though.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Friday, 09 December 2005

Another World

Anna, it was wild reading about your world up there.  You're right it's hard to believe those two places can exist in the same world.  The idea of snow, polar bears, cold, and all that is just surreal to me.  I'm sitting in the internet cafe staring out the doors at the hot dusty day.  It's December 15th, but there is sure to be no sign of winter here.  It's supposed to be the rainy season but we seem to be having a bit of a drought.  Truly another world.  I often have that thought here though. 

In fact I've been collecting a series of "surreal moments".  The other day I added another one to the list.  I was at the University with Antonia and we met up with a student friend of hers.  Antonia had to rush off to a meeting so Sylvain and I went for a walk through the large forest behind the University where the agroforestry students work.  It was a long, tiring walk that took us about 3 hours.  The time was mostly spent chatting away, exchanging cultural perspectives on different things.  All was perfectly normal, we chatted, once in a while stopping to look at a flower.  Well, the surreal moment?  As we walked along the quiet path, Sylvain suddenly stopped.  I stopped as well thinking he was going to point out some small animal or interesting plant.  But no.  Without any warning he turned, unzipped and started to relieve himself.  All the while, he continued to chat away.  There was not even a blip in the conversation.  I was taken aback to say the least and couldn't decide whether to continue walking or where to look.  When he finished, we resumed our walk as if nothing had happened. 

Some other surreal moments?

* Seeing a woman breast-feeding her toddler as he stood on the ground and she continued to pull weeds and rake the ground with a hoe.

*Antonia, Annemiek and I were on an express bus.  The radio was blaring East African music and news in Kinyarwanda when suddenly the cheesiest country song I've ever heard came on.  The banjo clanged and the woman's twangy voice sang out "Hold on to your lover cause it'll break your heard, in our town, in our town".  It was so incongruous but not a single Rwandan cracked a smile.  The three of us were practically in hysterics.

*Having a conversation with two Catholic nuns about Rwandan mens' propensity to cheat.

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

hippos, homecoming, and a wedding

Since my last visit to an internet cafe I have seen and done many things.  I travelled to Gahini and swam in lake Muhasi (taking a risk with the parasites) and got a nice sunburn (sorry to rub it in but hey I can!).  Then a group of us rented a rickety old taxi bus to take us to Akagera National Park where we saw giraffes, zebras, antelopes, impalas, and many more animals...  Yes Adam, even hippos!!! I was hoping for some action but so far my wild animal defense training has gone untested.  After that it was back to Butare and then home sweet home.  It was a great feeling walking down the dusty main drag of Gasarenda, seeing students, teachers, friends and hearing children shout my name.  I breathed a great sigh of relief.

The weekend brought with it another experience of a lifetime.  I attended a colleague's wedding and was even made an honourary member of the groom's family.  Some of the highlights that might interest you:

*The giving of the dowry ceremony where the bride's family was given a cow by the groom.  A veterinarian was present to attest to its good health.  This was followed by the bride and groom ceremonially drinking a glass of milk from the new cow.

*Much drinking of sorghum beer from a large communal calabesh with bamboo? straws.

*Speech after speech after speech after speech after speech after speech after speech after speech after speech (Thankfully I didn't have to give one)

*The day after the wedding I attended more ceremonies whereby the groom's family visits the bride's family only to return and have the bride's family visit the groom's family.  This involves many speeches, much beer (sorghum and regular), passing back and forth of unprocessed tobacco between the male heads of family and well of course a lot of confusion on my part as it is all in kinyarwanda. 

Certainly a memorable experience and one I'm likely to have again and again.

Now I'm off to Kigali and who knows where else ...


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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Yes this is a word I hear often here.  If you're sick, "patientez".  If you're tired, bored, frustrated, "patientez", and truly with all the waiting one does here, patience is a virtue.  I am trying to remember that lesson today as I sit in this internet cafe trying to upload pictures.  Unfortunately I have had no success as the connection is slow and the power has cut out once already.  I loaded some up a couple of weeks ago but have hundreds more to go... but sorry you will have to "patientez".

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog