Sunday, February 26, 2012

Umuganda Day

So yesterday I woke up with my phone not working and my modem turned off completely.

Imagine my panic when, at 6:45am on a Saturday, I find myself completely incapable of contacting the outside world. No Skype chat with The Man to jumpstart my day. No phone calls just in case I need to. No nothing. My roommates were still asleep (OF COURSE! Because who else would be dense enough to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday?!), and none of them heard my desperate mewing at their closed doors, hoping to find a functioning phone and/or working modem stick.

I wept quietly in my room for a while, until I finally resolved to nap for a few more hours, and then head to the Tigo store in a few hours when it opened.

When I went to the Tigo store, everything worked perfectly fine. Was I crazy?! How did these things work now? I SWEAR they weren't working a few hours ago!!
Well, now is a good time to explain Umuganda, for those interested. On the last Saturday of every month, the country of Rwanda turns down and comes together for community service work. They work on the roads and fix public spaces for about half of the day. It's a good method to ensure that the roads get clean, that's for sure. If you try traveling during Umuganda, police will stop you, park you, and make you join a nearby community service project. No shops are allowed to be open, either. So many people hide away in their houses and opt for the few extra hours of sleep and relaxation.

And, for my telecommunications provider, that means that no one is allowed to have any phone or internet service during that time, as well. 

Well, now that that's squared away....

Yesterday Denise and I went to town, for what we thought would be a really short time, in order to procure some things we wanted for the house. Important things, like, world maps, and post-it notes. 

I think I know why everyone is late here. Because things just happen, and you end up finding yourself in a completely different situation than you had anticipated. And sometimes, it's just sort of a "why not?" situation, where you think you might as well because we should all live in the moment and seize the day and all of that hooplah. People will delay their errands if they meet up friends on the road.

And that's what happened to us while in town. We ended up running into one of our friends, Benjamin (the guy who owns the hotel we frequent), while running errands. He was about to go home, but he said, "Why don't I drop you guys off wherever?" And that is how we ended up driving around for a few hours with Benjamin. Denise mentioned something about going to museums, and all of a sudden we found ourselves at the Kigali Museum of Natural History! It's a quaint little place - all within the first house built in Kigali in 1908!

We walked around the modest exhibits, and it was actually kind of fun! They had taxidermied animals from different areas of Rwanda allocated into different rooms. A zebra here, a monkey there... And their dinosaur exhibit was adorable.

And after we visited this museum, we ended up going to Benjamin's restaurant and he bought us dinner.

Here, Denise and I reflected how we wanted to be home about 4 hours or so ago, but that our agendas were warped radically as soon as we had that one run-in while walking through town.

Today, I've so many things to do! And at home, which really excites me.

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