20 June 2008

And so it begins.

The start of my internship in Kigali, Rwanda.

What is there to say when you arrive in Africa after more than 24 hours of travel?

Flying into Kigali was more amazing than I could have imagined. The country is a composite of lush rolling hills with red lines throughout (that would be the roads). So many variations of green! (Side bar: speaking of “green” I met a man in Nairobi who is the CEO of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. We talked about all things sustainable as it related to agriculture. Very interesting to say the least. How I managed to conduct a coherent conversation is beyond me.)

Lama and Mitch met me at the airport. I arrived to find one of my bags was fairly damaged (aka ripped open and wrapped in saran wrap with some sort of liquid oozing out). I soon learned that you can’t leave the airport with a saran wrapped anything. So I had to open it up and put the items that were clearly covered into a paper bag and deal with the other items later. Not fun.

We drove to find a hotel and I said that my main request was some place that had internet and hot water. Since Mitch mentioned that his place was not guaranteeing that, I opted to stay in a nice hotel with hot water. Right now, Mitch and I are enjoying a beer and jazz music on the patio at said hotel. This will not be typical. But I’m enjoying every minute of it as though it were a gift. Because it truly is.

I’ve seemingly coordinated a taxi driver to help me get around while in Kigali. His name is Laurent and I can call him whenever I need a ride somewhere. It’s actually not the cheapest way to get around. But as I get my bearings, it’s been a nice way to ensure I arrive somewhere. He doesn’t speak a word of English so my French is definitely being put to the test.

We’re not yet in Kibungo (now known as Ngoma) but will travel there tomorrow to finalize our accommodation (a house we will rent). Kigali is a vibrant city and yet seemingly lacks the infrastructure that we in North America take for granted.

Today we met at Bourbon Coffee (a great Starbucks-esque café that offers free wi-fi when you buy). We chatted for a few hours and then moved up the street to a restaurant (I feel like everywhere we eat has a buffet) for some typical Rwandan fare and a new favorite: passionfruit juice.

My ability to express myself accurately has been notable! In light of focusing my studies on the significance of language, this is a true test of how important it is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Thankfully, people are incredibly gracious. I do hope to see my French improve by the time I leave. And learn a bit more Kinyarwandan (the national language). And likely learn much more about listening.


Trevor said...

Kara... thrilled that you're there and get to experience Rwanda first hand. It's etched on my heart... I hope it's as enjoyable for you.

Definitely have to go for at least one Boda-Boda ride :)

And good luck on the Kinya-Rwanda... it's tough.

Meghan said...

I missed you last night.

I am so pleased that you arrived safely and had a hot shower and found some "normalcy".

You are in my thoughts and prayers and RSS feed!

Much love.