I woke up this morning to the sounds of singing coming from the blue-roofed Seventh Day Adventist Church next door—a chorus of voices leaking through the holes in walls.
Breakfast was underpopulated. People trickled into the dining room slowly, groggy from the night before. I had the chance to write a little before gathering a bag for our day out.
Our first stop of the day was the market, a huge and busy indoor complex bursting with colour. I went shutter-happy, snapping photos of fruit and fabric, both equally vibrant.
I found that my camera acted both as an ice-breaker and an enemy maker. I made eye contact and asked before taking any portraits, and found that many of the women were shy or irritated by the lens. Many men, on the other hand, called out to me, wanting their photos taken, then asking my name and where I’m from. One even asked me to stop so that he could take a photo of me on his phone.
After the market we went for lunch on an outdoor patio. We feasted on brochette—goat kabobs—fries, and plantains, then went for a short walk down the street, admiring the view from that hill.
We spent the afternoon at the museum of natural history, a funny little white building that was once owned by a German explorer who determined that the source of the Nile is in Rwanda. An enthusiastic guide spoke to us about the regions of Rwanda before going through a brief overview of geology, volcanic formations, and evolution “according to science” (but if you believe in God, you believe in creation, he noted).
He led us outside to a small shack housing cages with locally-found, fatality-capable, snakes, then out onto a terrace with an amazing view of the mountain after which the city was named. Kigali means “big” or “huge,” he said.
Tired from our day out, we huddled back into our Muzungu-mobile and headed back to the house to relax and set up for a party at the house. Allan dragged a couple tables and chairs out onto the lawn and lit candles. People lugged gigantic crates of Fanta, Coca Cola, and Mutzig beer into our entrance. In the kitchen, our wonderful cook, Mumma Eva, prepared a feast.
Our guests for the night arrived just after darkness did—a few local journalism students from the University of Rwanda, teachers and staff from the university, and enough journalists to assign each student a partner.
I spent the evening talking and learning and trying to soak it all up. The first half of the evening I spoke with a third year journalism student from here about school, family and politics. He said he wanted to be a journalist so that he could talk to people who were struggling, but he was having his doubts now about whether or not he could really help them. Maybe he will go into PR instead, he said.
My journalist-partner is a stylish lady named C. who works for an online publication. She’s a busy woman: a journalist, a student, and the mother of a three year old little girl. We found lots to laugh about and I’m looking forward to seeing her again later in the trip.
As the evening wound down and our final guests exited I found a place on the couch with a couple other journalism students and Allan came over and we talked about jschool for a while. It’s funny living with a professor, eating breakfast and hanging out together, but Allan is friendly and at ease in every situation. You can tell how comfortable he is in this country, how well he knows the culture and people and history of this place.
I finally showered and crawled into bed just before 2 a.m. We miraculously had internet and so I posted my blog from the day before and talked for a few minutes with people from home, letting them know that I’m safe and happy and fascinated by this beautiful and complex place.