I couldn’t think of a nice, catchy title. I know, it sucks. It reads like the title of some really dry research article: more confusing than descriptive and yawn-inducing. Sorry. Since my last post, a lot has happened. A LOT. For starters, I spent another week in Uganda, trying not to melt (I’m still somewhat intact). We did lots of cool stuff, from meeting with the Chief of the Patiko clan of the Acholi People, to visiting a Patiko village, to riding a ferry down the Nile River to see Murchison Falls, and then took a game drive to see all sorts of cool wildlife in the Murchison Falls National Park.
I saw lions. In the wild. Including two cubs. Also giraffes running with their awkwardly graceful, spindly legs. And I came REALLY close to an elephant and a crocodile.
Upon our return home after a grueling journey (those bumpy Uganda highways, which are mostly dirt once you get away from major cities like Kampala, are not kind to your body), we all stayed with our home stay families for another two weeks. My last night at home, my family and I (excluding my host dad) went out to dinner–something we had never done in the nearly two months I’ve lived there. It was a real treat–South African wine, pizza, and hamburgers. My sweet host mom, “Mama Grace,” who had just treated me to my nice meal, went outside after dinner to the children’s play area and started swinging on the swing set. It was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life. While I will miss my family, I am super excited to be living in a new house with two of my fellow SIT students! For the next month we will be sharing a small house in Kimihurura, a really cool section of Kigali. Many expats live in the area, and it’s full of everything us Americans could ever want–the (arguably) coolest bar/cafe/club in Kigali, other bars and cafes and clubs, a bowling alley, restaurants, even a smoothie shop. Many of these cool places are within walking distance, but we are also only twenty minutes or less by bus ride to Mumuji, or downtown. (Usually, if I can get somewhere in Kigali via public transportation in under an hour, I consider it a miracle). We have a cute little backyard with a trampoline (although if we jumped on it it’d probably break) and a pretty garden, a not-half-bad view of the city, plus some corn (we don’t know why there’s corn growing in our yard, either). We have someone who both guards AND cleans our house named Cristoph. Move-in day was rough, however. One of the toilets was missing its seat. The other toilet didn’t work. Locks had to be switched on doors so we could actually lock our front door. We have been engaged in an all-out assault against ants in the kitchen (so far, the only casualty we’ve suffered is a loaf of bread). We went to go cook dinner and there was no gas for the stove. One of the bed frames broke when my friend sat on it the bed. Luckily, everything but the ant problem has been fixed (and we are armed for the ant problem with some hand sanitizer and vinegar), although the one toilet that has been fixed randomly makes noises like it’s possessed. It’s a charming house, I promise. Come stop by (and maybe tell our toilet to stop making strange thumps in the night?) Aside from that, yesterday was the beginning of Kwibuka in Rwanda. “Kwibuka” is a Kinyarwanda word for “to remember,” and it signifies the commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsis. Yesterday, essentially all of Kigali shut down. No businesses were open. Normally there’s a hum of activity around our house considering we are in close proximity to many busy places, but there was hardly a sound. It didn’t feel absurdly sad or distressing. It just felt solemn and subdued–and Kigali is not a solemn or subdued city. It’s been twenty-one years since the Rwandan Genocide. The commemoration of it will continue for a full week. On Sunday, there is a Walk to Remember I am hoping to join some Rwandan friends in. You can learn more about this year’s commemoration and the Rwandan Genocide by visiting www.kwibuka.rw