Sunday, January 15, 2012

Assorted Things

While I went through today, I had a number of thoughts that didn't necessarily go in any particular direction, but I had them and so I will write them down.

1) Buses are the public transporation methods here in Kigali. I'm not used to this - while living in NYC for so long, I am very much a Brooklyn animal used to the convenience and ease of transportation through subway and grids. Here's it's very much windy roads and cars that get you around. So, I try to use buses because they're there and the cheapest method of getting around. But they seem to have some organized chaos to them that everyone else seems to understand but me! They don't necessarily have assigned stopping areas. They don't have reliable times, for reasons I'm not quite sure. And some buses go in different directions than others. But I think everyone here understands the bus system pretty well. I'm hoping that I get the hang of it soon enough, even if it's not conventional logic.

Fortunately, people here are extremely kind and helpful. Today, when trying to find a bus that would take me to town, I stopped a random little woman on the street and asked her where to go. She walked me to the bus station (or whatever it was) and got me on a bus in the right direction. She told me to stay on it into town. Then, another man took over after a while and explained to me how I have to stay on the bus a bit longer to get to where I wanted to be (UTC Center). He even walked me to where I was meeting Denise for the day to make sure I didn't get lost. That was super nice!

2) Something that I think is fascinating here is the way that mothers carry infants. In the US, we use backpack-like holsters that keep the babies snug yet a bit dangly, often in our front. Here, mothers seem to tie babies in the back pretty tightly around their waists with fabrics, so that the babie's cheeks are pressed up closely to the mother's backs. It's actually pretty adorable, because the babies are just these lumps on the mothers' backs, and seem to be in a position where they are completely incapable of moving, YET they seem to not fuss about it at all. I want to ask them about it. How do they not drop the babies??

3) Language is going to be a key barrier to my full understanding and integration here. While many people have some sort of grasp on the English and/or French languages, all people speak Kinyarwandan frequently. Things are announced in Kinyarwandan, and bargaining is done in the language as well. I kind of feel like I'm missing something all the time. But I am learning the language slowly. So far I know how to say, "Slow!" "Be careful!" "Jump!" "Hello" "Goodday" "Goodmorning" "Thank you" "How are you?" and "I'm very fine!" It will get easier.
And this is also where people here are super helpful. If I don't understand someone or something, almost always some random stranger will come immediately to help out and explain to me (in usually decent English) what's going on.

4) I'm amazed at how the older, more run-down buildings are juxtaposed so often with clean, shiny, big new buildings.

5) We have a puppy named Cinnamon. He's an African Dog breed, and is very, very smart. He understands many commands and knows how to do a lot of things creatively. It's like he has hands sometimes! And he's very naughty. He chewed on the leg of a gorilla bear I have from my dad for Christmas already, even though it was safely on top of a shelf. He also is very ornery - if I tell him to go out, he pulls a bunch of tricks to get out of it. And even if he knows he shouldn't be somewhere, he'll go anyways to see if he'll be able to get away with it. Apparently, it's the breed of dog - very smart, stubborn, and naughty. Well noted.

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