03 June, 2011

This is Africa - Day 2

Since the last post I've managed to fit in personal encounters with motorbikes, goats, and hairdressers, thankfully not all at once. I always get caught out when overseas about how quickly it gets dark. Dusk came around 6pm and just to be on the safe side I decided not to walk back to the guesthouse last night after my day in the city-centre and instead hopped on a moto-taxi (mad or mental?!) - there are hundreds of these wee 125cc motorbike taxis all over the show and the rider provides you with a helmet. I felt safe enough but it was probably a good thing that it was just a short wee ride, itcost me just RFR300 - about 30p.

Then I ate at the guesthouse whose restaurant gets a decent write-up in the guidebook, and decided to be adventurous by trying brochettes de chevre - i.e goat kebabs. This is where I went wrong because I think they gave me the oldest billy goat in Rwanda, it was as tough as leather! It probably wasn't helped by the fact that I kept thinking of the cute wee angora goats one of my cousins used to keep! Am still in possession of all my own teeth, always a plus.

Last night was my first time to sleep under a mosquito net, I've discovered that you have to be organised and once tucked in it's best not to keep hopping in and out of bed. Paranoia ensured that my room was stinking of mosquito repellent, but better that than get malaria. One mosquito had dared earlier to enter my room, but that DEET stuff really does nuke the wee blighters. [Generally I'm a peace-loving kind of person but not where mosquitoes are concerned.]

I slept pretty well so feel a heck of a lot more rested and up for doing stuff today than yesterday. First thing I went to the offices of New Dawn Associates, a local organisation which arranges a variety of community-based tours. I set off with my two guides, Eric & Mary (from what I could gather Eric is training Mary as a guide), on the This is Africa tour to the Nyamirambo district of Kigali. We got possibly the most rickety mini-bus taxi (sets off when full and everyone is squashed in, no room for sensitivity about your personal space!) from the busiest and most hectic street I think I've ever been in where I was the only mzungu. The journey wasn't much more than 5-10 minutes (including stops for pick-ups and drop-offs) and brought us to the Muslim quarter south of the city-centre. The tour started off at Nyamirambo Women's Centre - a self-help group of 18 single mothers in the area. They support local women in empowerment and education initiatives including running 3x 2-hour English classes Mon-Fri. Three of the members took me to a local market where local Muslim women sell various fruit & veg, fabric and clothes and other supplies including cooking pots and charcoal burners. Most of their husbands work outside of Kigali, often in other provinces and can often only come home at the weekends so it's a tough hard-working life.Many of these women are enrolled in the English classes so were able to practice with me and I tried to reciprocate in Kinyarwanda.

Next we went to a tailor, who was unfortunately out but I got to see all the beautifully coloured fabric and dresses which can be made to measure. I think they would find fashion rather dull back at home. A local hairdresser's was our next port of call and she braided a wee tuft of my hair. I doubt she get many customers with the short spiky look. But I'm now sporting a very long braid and I know that when I get home everyone will want to be as cool as me.

Finally I was brought to the home of one of the members of the NWC cooperative for a home-cooked meal of 'Irish' potatoes, green beans and carrots, plantain (tastes v like potato), a meat dish which they called dodo and then a dish made from the flour of maize, don't ask me how you say what it was called. The maize flour stuff was a bit bland but my favourite were the green bean and plantain dishes - really tasty and flavourful. Oh and I managed to make my host's neighbour's child cry, the charm is really working - not!

So a brilliant tour, I recommend it if you get the chance to come here. Right must go - more adventures to seek!


Unknown said...

Lovin your work sis keep it up! ;-) Ps its 25 degrees here so there 8-P

Debs Erwin said...

Well make sure it stays 25 degs for my homecoming, I'm adapting nicely to the heat here!