May 1, 2013
I sit here on a dreary and rainy Labour Day, thanking the Rwandan government for the day off school, just a week into the new term. I am thanking the higher power that I wasn’t subjected to the hours-long, inevitably Kinyarwanda only Teacher’s meeting that Todd (man-friend extraordinaire) was dragged into in his village. Instead I get my day to try and catch up on some things that had been pushed aside. Before I jump into catching you up on my incredibly busy vacation I want to update you all on the slightly irrelevant but still vitally important things in my life that if we were in constant communication you would be asking about.
• It appears that the mouse/rat/unidentified animal residing in the space between my drop ceiling and roof has either found it’s way out or died. I assume that it will be made incredibly clear in the next few days as to which happened by the amount it will smell in my house. Either way, I will be sleeping under my mosquito net until it’s been a week without hearing it. I feel that nothing can get under this net and therefore I am protected.
• I only have half a bag of sweet tart jellybeans left from my Easter care package and am starting to stress about life post-jellybean. Good thing we have doctors at our call 24/7… ☺
• With the arrival of Kevin (my neighbor’s brand spankin’ new baby boy) the “babies in my life tally” is up to 2. Thankfully this number will increase in the next month when my language teacher from training welcomes his first-born in the next few weeks. I am going to try and snap some pictures of them in the clothes my Mom was awesome to send me. Be on the lookout.
• Today I was able to sleep into 9:45 AM. This is the latest I have slept in the past 8 months, except when I was sick. I am never falling asleep tonight.
• The rainy season is on the way out. I am hoping this means an end to the swarms of bugs that try and get inside my house when it rains at night. However I will miss having the excuse of “its raining, can’t leave my house”. You win some you lose some.
• My students may or may not have missed me over the break. I got a: Students: “Teacher we missed you so much”
Me: “Oh thanks you guys, I missed you all too”
Students: “Yes, but we also missed using your volleyball”
At least they are being active and healthy??
Okay so to my break. It was absolutely crazy. I am going to try and rehash it as best as possible but no promises!
First I headed to Tanzania and Zanzibar. Our group of 10 headed out in three shifts, two groups via airplane and one group on a 30 hour + bus ride. My group left Kigali at the convenient flying time of 1:30AM. We pushed ourselves to stay awake until we were able to board, narrowly succeeding. Once nestled into our seats we promptly passed out until we were rudely awakened 30 minutes later to find ourselves in Burundi. Not on our flight plan, we were a little concerned to discover that somehow we were there. Not to worry, apparently we had a stopover to pick up more people unbeknownst to us. We did eventually make it to Dar Es Salaam, making it the fourth country we had been in in 12 hours. The next day our group took the ferry and made it to the island of Zanzibar. The best way to describe Zanzibar is for you to think of what a tropical island paradise looks like in your mind. That is Zanzibar. White sand beaches paired with clear water and a tide that at it’s lowest could go out almost two miles. Unfortunately 6 out of 10 in our group were plagued with some stomach virus/ food poisoning. Thankfully it hit me on the only rainy day of the trip and I was good to go once the sun came back out. The ten of us spent the week eating much-craved seafood (Rwanda is land-locked), drinking fruity, icy, delicious beverages and attempting to not get horribly burned. We had a night in Stone Town (the main city of Zanzibar) to explore the city before we returned to Dar Es Salaam to head home. I have to say, Stone Town is one of the coolest places I have ever been to. Since it lies in such a busy shipping channel it had so many different cultural influences: African, Indian, Middle Eastern and European. Needless to say, paired with the easy access to seafood, it has some INCREDIBLE food selections. Leaving Tanzania was bittersweet, but I was ready to return to Rwanda, where I speak the language (albeit badly) and where the temperature wasn’t like New Orleans in July.
Once I got home I had a few days to prepare everything before Hilary arrived! It was absolutely surreal to have her here. Everyone knows the feeling of having two different worlds collide: when your friends from college meet your friends from home for example. Imagine this feeling on a grander scale and this is what it was like. For the past 8 months, the only people I have seen and been with are the people in this country. Except for the odd skype session and phone call from home, these people have been my entire life and to have Hilary get to meet them and see my home was incredible. We had almost two weeks together and we didn’t kill each other; I consider the trip a success! When she was here I wanted to show her Rwanda so we did a good bit of traveling. We went to Musanze where she got to see the breath-takingingly beautiful volcanoes. We went to Butare and had real soft serve ice cream. From there we went to Kamembe in the south where you can throw a rock and hit the DRC (literally). We took a boat up Lake Kivu to Kibuye, where you get one of the most incredible views of the lake anywhere. During it all she was able to meet and hang out with all my friends. My blood family got to meet my Rwandan family. It was pretty great. I think she really enjoyed being here and it was such a treat to have a visitor!! It’s nice to know that someone outside of the Peace Corps community that understands, if even a little, what I go through day in and day out. Only a few months until my next set of visitors: my parents!
So after Hilary left I had a week of training with my training class. It was the first time we had all been together since we swore in as Peace Corps Volunteers over four months ago. It was wonderful to see each other. It was also wonderful that Peace Corps put us up in a swanky hotel and gave us more food than I thought it was physically possible to ingest in 6 days. I am pretty sure everyone left a few pounds heavier from our three complete meals and two snacks daily. We also had some pretty great sessions about starting secondary projects and writing grants. I left with some pretty good ideas and more confidence about writing, running and evaluating a grant. More info to come on that though!
So now I am back at site and it’s good to be back. I realized that I had missed my little home and the people that now create the fabric of my daily life. School has already taken off and I love being back in the swing of things. Love and miss you all back home, only 7.5 months until I’m home visiting!
Also a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Grace A and Taylor P as they GRADUATE soon!! So proud of you all!!!!!