November 11, 2012
So I realized that I have been under the assumption that you all automatically knew what my days consist of, which is not true at all. I think this kind of post is long overdue!
So technically I don’t have to wake up until 6:00-6:15, however I am usually awake long before that thanks to some unusual alarm clocks. Some mornings, it is the rain (especially since we hit the rainy season), or the plethora of birds that live outside my window. If I am really lucky it can be my host Mama or Papa praying out-loud (sidenote: my house doesn’t have real ceilings. It is almost like a bamboo ceiling with a tin roof over it. Not good for sound protection.) or answering their phone (yes, Rwandans call people at 5AM, sometimes they even come visit then!). So my last hour of sleep is usually on and off, trying to get comfortable on my foam mattress after I realize that I am lying in a crater of my own making from during the night. I get up and use the latrine and brush my teeth into a cup. The first morning of homestay I didn’t know what to do, or where to spit, so I swallowed it. Not a pleasant taste. I have learned. After that I may sweep out my room depending on how lazy I am, this should help to get rid of jiggers (since they live in the dust) but I am not convinced. I go outside to make sure I will be able to get some hot water for my bucket bath, as there is nothing worse than a brain freeze from washing your hair at 6:30 in the morning (also, if someone had told me how cold it could be during the rainy season, I would not have believed them). I get dressed and hope that Mama has put out some tea for me, and if I am really lucky a piece of bread or amandazi (literally doughnut in Kinyarwanda, or a piece of friend bread). If you knew me well in the states, you understood my Diet soda addiction, and so this tea has slid in to take my Diet Dr. Pepper’s place (but ohhhh, Good Lord what I wouldn’t do for a DDP). My Mama will always think I am crazy when I put a tiny bit of sugar in my tea, as I have actually seen Rwandans put in four heaping spoonfuls into one mug.
Most days I have a two-mile walk up a mountain to our training center, but depending on if I have language first, it can also be much shorter. Classes have gotten to the point where we are all so ready to be PCVs, that they can be painful. We have great teachers, especially my beloved LCF (Language and Cultural Facilitator, basically a HCN- Host Country National- who teaches us everything about language and culture) Justin. Justin is an enthusiastic, stick of a Rwandan who is super encouraging and wonderful. After the mid LPI I was transferred to Fanny, another LCF to finish out training with. Fanny is great and I can already tell my comprehension is improving under her tutelage. We get through 8AM-12PM of class and are released into the wild for lunch. My subsite and the one right next to us all go to the same lunch place, Fifi’s. Fifi and her brother Andre have become very good friends during training and she really takes care of us. She knows what we love and tries to always have them for us. She is also someone we can ask questions to about our Kinyarwanda training. After lunch we have 3-4 more hours of class before we are done for the day (or officially done with classes, as we are working every moment of the day). We usually head back up to Fifi’s for a cup of icyayi (tea with milk and sugar) or if it was a rough day we may head to the bar for a cold beer (also the beers here are huge and very 40 like, for those of my college friends who are reading. Yep, I go to Rwanda and get to drink the Rwandan version of a Hurricane. Wonderful) . We try not to go to the bar too frequently, as it reflects badly on PC’s image here in Kamonyi, to have all the white people gathered in the bar, drinking. Many people don’t drink in this country, as they are very religious. My host parents fall into this category and have told me many times that they do not drink (this has been a wonderful conversation to have).
After our drink of choice we head back to our families, as we have a strict curfew of 6:30PM. The sun goes down around 6PM and after that is gets DARK. I swear Rwandans have superior night vision than I do, as they never seem to stumble on the unpaved roads. So for the rest of the night I may take some alone time and then hang out with the family. This usually takes place in the kitchen, which is the heart of the home in such a huge way. Everything is cooked either on the wood stove or over an imbabura (charcoal stove) and can take hours to make a meal. I have passed so many hours sitting on the wooden bench in there, sometimes attempting to make conversation and sometimes just enjoying the warmth from the fire on an especially cold evening. If I am lucky, Glasse will play with my hair, as she is fascinated by how straight and soft it is. We eat anywhere between 7-9PM, huddled around the coffee table in the living room, lit by a lantern, always praying beforehand. I am usually in bed shortly after finishing eating, but not before I take my malaria prophylaxis (I promise PCMOs!!!), usually around 8-8:30. I read for as long as I can keep my eyelids open for and then pass out to the same sounds I wake up to every morning. The peace that passes over me during these moments cannot be understated, I am home.