Thursday, January 05, 2012

Glow Bug

What a difference a 10-hour sleep fest can make! Granted, I am not 100% yet, but I'm a lot closer than yesterday!

I slept pretty well last night. That is to say, I slept pretty well once I put in the ear plugs. The house I am staying in right now is between a few bars, more or less, and those places don't have noise control regulations at night. So, post-plugs, and aside from waking up to use the toilet, I slept well.

Today I went to work for a full day. And oh boy, did I work. From 9am to about 6:30pm, I was running around getting stuff done. Did I mention I have to start class in the morning? We got to move around a lot of furniture. A lot of heavy furniture. Basically, we redesigned and refurnished the entire school. With the summer heat in Rwanda, it was pretty miserable lifting wooden desks and hauling them around the hallways to get the classrooms set up. I got sunburned more. I also had to work last minute on my classes for tomorrow. I had to wait for a while to get to talk with someone about what kind of way I should design the class. They've taught some of the subjects before, and I didn't want to get too obscure in my teaching of math and IT and whatever. So, I was running around frantic at 6pm trying to print out 80 copies of my syllabi and placement exams (all made by yours truly); stapling and collating papers and fixing printers were my chaotic half hour before getting home. I don't like doing things so last minute.

And that is when I get to explain TIA - This Is Africa. I didn't want to be like everyone else who uses the term, once they have been here. I feel like it always sounds pretentious, and perhaps a bit discriminatory in some way. But alas, it seems to be a legitimate phrase for a legitimate reason. I'm actually having a conversation right now with my Rwandan housemate, Prosper about this - apparently, even Africans use "TIA". He's a really smart guy, and a pretty fantastic explainer. And he's helping me get this thought out of me more clearly. Basically, as far as I understand, TIA is a word with a lot of different contexts: Things are different in Africa, for better or for worse; Nothing is happening at the time or in the way I want it to happen, but there's nothing I can do about it (which is how I generally think about it, and currently am experiencing; Things should not be like this; and, This place is magical, so don't be surprised about what happens here.

There was also some changes in how I would get reimbursed by the school, as agreed in the contract. It'll be a bit more inconvenient with the new deal, but at least I won't get taxed in Rwanda. I just wish I had known about it sooner.

So, after a long day at work, all I can think is, TIA.

My other Rwandan roommate, Scovea, has been my guide and escort while I start getting acquainted with the area; she came to find me after work so I could get home in one piece.

Oh yeah, also, the sun comes up around 5am, and it sets around 6pm. That makes it a bit harder to get around at night, especially because not all streets are well lit.

So I started walking up some serious hills to get towards Scovea at our agreed-upon meeting spot. It's a bit of a hike, I will admit, but it's where the buses and motos park for passengers, near the hospital in Kibagabaga. I'm so grateful that she is able and willing to get me here and there, because otherwise I'd be a crying little girl on the side of the road here. I have so much to learn. As I walked past a few people here and there, I wondered to myself, "What if she can't see me in the darkness?" And then I chuckled to myself, because how could she not see me in the dark?! EVERYONE sees me in the dark here. I'm one of the only white people around! I basically glow in the dark like a glow bug around here!

She found me and one of my colleagues from school met up with us and drove us to the center of our area of town, called Kimironko market. I had heard that there was an ATM nearby, so Scovea led me to the ATM and I excitedly pulled out some Rwandan Francs. Upon calculation, I pulled out a lot more than I had wanted to, but done is done, and I have promised to maintain my wallet by my hip at all times, nicely locked. I was so happy to finally have some cash to get myself moving around that I insisted we go to a shop nearby to get some things.

I've not been so excited about cereal in a while. It was a super expensive box (750g for $7.50??), but I am so happy with it right now, I think it's worth it. And I got a can of Nutella and some apple juice boxes.

I'm so excited to call my boyfriend in the AM after I wake up. I'll have to call him around 5:30am my time, but since I have to be at work around 6:45am, it doesn't sound so bad to wake up then. I think I might have to be a morning glory in this country, by force.

I know I need to upload pictures soon. I've just not really taken that many yet.

Alright, bed now. Wish me luck on my first classes ever tomorrow! Applied Maths, here I come!

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