Sunday, January 08, 2012

Getting Around Town

African Bagel Company joy

Today I woke up and got on Skype with The Man, and we had a good time. I jump roped while he told me about his evening with some of our friends. I am so happy he was able to enjoy himself! I still miss him a lot.

Today was a good day in general.

One of my housemate's friends drove us to a place called African Bagel Company (ABC). We drove through Kigali to the Kicukiro ward and walked through a gated area a bit off of the main road into what seemed like a little idyllic respite from the busy city life. The open-air house is very cute and clean, with some very pretty bamboo add-ons that serve as awnings. The land was very well manicured and had pretty plants speckled around the area. The store in the house was very sweet and simple, but kind of fun and rather colorful. All white girls smiled back at me while I looked at the freshly-baked doughnuts and bagels. I asked them how long they'd been in Rwanda, and the oldest grinned and said, "Our whole lives!" The owners are originally from two towns over from where I grew up, too! Apparently on Saturdays, this is THE expat hangout in the entire city. So within a few whiles, the garden was full of white folk with cutely-dressed babies and toddlers. And the bagels were, dare I say, better than even perhaps those in NYC! So we had a great time for a few hours enjoying the company of others and relaxing under a bamboo roof with our tasty bagels. The owner invited me to hang out with them more on the weekends. We'll see.

Afterwards, I managed with my housemates and a colleague to finally go to the town area of Kigali. It is being built up pretty nicely, and it was very busy. But we meandered to a few stores and bought a few things that we needed, like tupperware and umbrellas. Scovea brought us to a Chinese shop with super cheap options for everything, which I really appreciated. The interesting thing, I thought, about the town is that it's all hilly. Which makes sense - Rwanda is the "Land of Many Hills". So everywhere I have walked since coming has been literally uphill. It's just the geography. And for some reason it seemed strange to me.

Public transportation here is a special kind of monster. There are a bunch of legitimate public transportation buses that are reliable, in the sense that they are always going to come to the bus stops. It's just a matter of whether they come within 30 minutes to an hour or so, and if they're full or not. But they are really cheap (less than $.50 anywhere!) and safe. But then there are the off-brand buses, and they are more frequent and stop at more places...but the catch is that they stop at more places (and are often fuller), and don't always go to where you need to be. Lots of shouting happens to make sure people get on the right buses, and there are a lot of people. So we got on an off-brand bus to get back to our area, Kimironko.

The landscape is very pretty, but truth be told I am not sure what to take pictures of around here. Lots of big hills that are pretty panoramas, but it's hard to capture. And otherwise, it's all walls and street.

We ended up meandering a bit more to more markets before getting back to the house. And we ended up seeing a wedding happen. The weddings I've seen here so far will have big Jeeps with ribbons decorating the front, while the women wear outfits not unlike saris. At home, I crashed like a computer that needs rebooting. I napped for a bit.

And then the party started! My US housemate threw a party tonight, as she is going back to the states for a few months and I just got here. And the people were so sweet and welcoming; they all offered their services and help to me while I'm in Kigali. I super duper appreciate it. But I ended up talking to expats a lot, which I didn't mind at all. One of the expats was a woman who works with USAID - she's offered to help me out with my career optoins more and what I can do to make it work in Africa with The Man. And two other expats work in IT, which was HUGE for me in my mission to get The Man hooked up. One especially excited me because he mentioned needing potentially another IT guru, and he seemed interested in The Man and his expertise. He even mentioned a project potentially in Kenya working on cybersecurity. Score huge!

And after a nice long talk with my mom, I need to go to bed.

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