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Entries "April 2007":

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Well, I don't have any really interesting stories to tell.  Just a general hey to everyone.  I've managed to post more pics on-line.  Some from a VSO costume party, volunteers definitely know how to party.  Also there are a few pictures of the teachers at TTC doing report cards on the computer for the first time... all thanks to our new volunteers in the area Mans and Han from Holland.  I threw on some pics of my garden, I found the close-up feature on my camera and took some great pics of sunflowers.  There's also a trip to Maraba coffee plantation, and a fun weekend in Gisenyi to say farewell to Laura.  Mary, if you're reading please take a look at the costume party photos.  Look closely and you'll see a rather tall man named Ken wearing your feather boa... and you thought nobody would use it!  Well take care all.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Saturday, 21 April 2007

back country

Elson and I went on a wicked trip last weekend to visit our friend Emmanuel who now works way out in the country.  We each rode on the back of a motorcycle for two hours on some of the worst roads in Rwanda.  THe rainy season has started so sometimes the drivers had to push their way through mud with their feet.  It was a jarring experience physically, but wow! the views were breathtaking!  The hills are quite steep in that area and so the views down into the valleys were spectacular: rushing rivers, terraced slopes, tea plantations.  The views took my mind off the physical pain in my rear end.  When we got there, we went for a short walk and then Manu proceeded to stuff us with meal after meal after snack after beer.  I thought I would never be hungry again.  His house is on the top of a hill, surrounded by fields of peas, beets, and corn.  He has two sheep and two turkeys which provided me with a great deal of entertainment.  I never realized how excitable turkeys are.  THe next morning we went for a two hour walk up and up and up until we were looking at Nyungwe Forest just a couple hills away.  It was cold up there, and it rains quite a lot, but the people look healthy and well-fed.  The views are spectacular and I almost didn't want to leave.  But Sunday afternoon we went bumpity bump back home. Check out pics on 'visiting Emmanuel'.

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
Friday, 06 April 2007

The "Akayongwe"

There are many mysteries in Rwanda that I have yet to get to the bottom of including why Rwandans love Kenny Rogers, how all Rwandans know when it’s going to rain, and why they insist on removing the heads of flowers when they weed a garden. The most baffling of all mysteries, however, is that of the ‘akayongwe’. This animal has the most unusual behaviour and is as elusive as the North American Big Foot. It’s existence became known to me through Antonia. One quiet afternoon as Antonia walked home from work, a strange, thin, cat-like animal with a tail like a question mark crossed her path. Antonia was intrigued and upon arriving home asked her cook, Lucy, about the animal. From Antonia’s description, Lucy recognized the animal immediately. ‘Akayongwe’ she said. “It’s a small animal that catches chickens. A wicked animal indeed. It sneaks up on chickens, turns its backside towards them and opens up its rear end, revealing red flesh that resembles raw meat. The chickens can’t resist the look of the raw meat and approach to have a little peck. Once contact is made, the ‘akayongwe’ slams its rear end shut and runs, suffocating the poor little chicken in its anus.” Antonia was naturally dumbfounded. Surely it’s a biological impossibility. Surely it’s a myth. Surely Lucy was pulling her leg. Antonia told our friend Beth, a doctor in animal biology who works in Nyungwe forest. Beth wasn’t able to continue the discussion due to an uncontrollable fit of laughter. So that settled it, Lucy was making it up, or had been tricked herself by some mean-spirited uncle out to trick his sweet, naïve niece. Alas, no. The quest for the ‘akayongwe’ continued, and continues still. Upon hearing this story, I began to ask every Rwandan that I knew and ALL WITHOUT EXCEPTION confirm the story. Our Congolese friend affirmed that the animal also exists across the border, sometimes sporting a different name. I opened up the question for discussion in my classrooms. It was not much of a discussion though, every student affirmed the existence of this animal. Some have seen the animal (Antonia and Elson included), some even purport to be missing chickens after seeing the animal, but no one I have met has ever seen the animal perform the magical task of catching a chicken in its ass. Sylvester, my worker, told me that the ‘akayongwe’ was even in a book. Indeed, I found a story about the ‘akayongwe’ in the grade 2 primary school reader. The story involves a little chick who disobeys his mother and ends up strangled by the ‘akayongwe’- I must say, however, that there is no mention of ass-catching, the method of strangulation is not specified. Another teacher told me that whenever European fairy tales are translated into Kinyarwanda, the fox becomes ‘akayongwe’. The animal remains a mystery to me but it has raised many interesting questions like ‘why isn’t National Geographic onto this?’, ‘Are chickens really meat eaters?’, ‘how did this strange practice evolve, i.e. why was this ability evolutionarily advantageous?”. If there are Masters or PhD students out there (in biology or in cultural anthropology), I think there’s a winning thesis in all of this. Think about it!

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog

Modified on April 6, 2007 at 8:02 PM