Getting ready to go
Sunday, March 15, 2009
It is the wind-down time. Contrary to last year’s trip, tonight was spent reminiscing about all that we learned and all the simple pleasures we experienced.
We are in the middle of a capital city, yet the stars shine brightly in the night sky. In the US, you must be in a rural area to see so many stars at night.
The milk products, especially yogurt, are outstanding in Rwanda. The fruit is fresh year round.
In spite of one of our members being pick-pocketed, this is a safe place, virtually no violent crime. Even in the most impoverished areas, it is safe to walk at night.
The birds sing the most beautiful songs. I now find it relaxing to hear them in the early morning.
Things have dramatically changed since we were here last year. Many more buildings have been built. Fewer Rwandese are staring at us, except in the rural areas. There seem to be more beggars than there were last year. There are definitely more muzungus here. I counted three Rwandese roller-blading. I think we saw five or ten people riding bicycles for sport, dressed up in bicycle outfits. Each night, I saw at least one Rwandese couple holding hands. I spotted many women wearing pants.
The Rwandese, I think, are much like our early forefathers of the US. Imagine that in 1776, some men sat down and declared the thirteen colonies were liberated from the UK. How long did it take before the populace found out? What did they think? After the Revolutionary War, how long did it take for laws to be established? Even our friend, Eddy, could not remember when Rwanda’s Independence Day is celebrated (July 1). I suspect that post Revolutionary War, people did not know when Independence Day was.
People’s status, or strata, can determine some cultural dynamics. We have figured out that our hosts are all highly educated and – compared to Rwanda’s standards – are privileged. Their points of view are sometimes skewed by their social status. Tonight, we asked everyone to tell the group where they were born. Nearly all the Rwandese guests were born outside Rwanda. Most had lived as refugees in their childhoods. Based on that, it is clear that they all had to work much harder than the average US citizen to get where they are now.
We miss our kids. A lot. Funny, last week when the head master of Rwanda’s premier school asked me what my greatest desire in life was, I blurted out, “more time with my wife and kids.”
At this writing, it is now after 3am. I am tired, excited to see my kids, excited to share stories with friends and coworkers, excited to have consistent running water . . . but also deeply saddened that we have to leave. This trip was more than I needed for confirmation that we are meant to be here. Some of the people here have become family – more than friends. (NOTE to my mom . . . No, we do not expect to be living in the mud huts, even though they are extremely common here.)
“Amakuru,” my friend asked me tonight. I.e. “How is it going?” I lied. “Ni meza.” I.e. “It’s all good.” I remember writing in a blog last year that no matter where I am, I will forever be missing someone while also looking forward to seeing my loved ones.