No longer a moto-taxi novice!

No longer a moto-taxi novice!
No longer a moto-taxi novice! It can be exhausting but it's great fun!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

In country training

Hi everyone!
Well, the first week has gone already and we will soon be leaving Kigali to go to our various destinations – there are 19 of us and about six of us will be quite close together in the south-east. Strangely four of us are the only men in this cohort and we are going to the same place. I met my predecessor yesterday and got more information about the job and the accommodation, but I’ll tell you more when I’ve seen it for myself. At the moment we are staying in a guest-house in the suburbs of Kigali, not far from the VSO offices and all our training has been here too. The rooms are quite comfortable, but basic. The en suite bathroom has a dodgy shower over the bathtub, which at best delivers very lukewarm water, but we have also had power cuts affecting both the lights and the sockets meaning cold showers too! Thank goodness for LED torches and headlamps! The food is very good – breakfast consists of bread or toast with omelette and slices of cheese, then jam or chocolate spread and fresh pineapple. Flasks of hot water are used to make tea and there is a coffee machine. Of course there is no fresh milk, everywhere it is just milk powder.
Lunch and dinner are what they call “melange” from the French word for “mixed platter”. Big dishes of grated carrot salad, tomatoes or beetroot, or grated cabbage, cold cooked aubergine – all with mild onion slices, and a dressing – that’s one side of your plate – then there are dishes of rice, potatoes, mashed or fried, roast or fried sweet potato or plantain, squashes or courgettes, cooked carrots, sweetcorn, maybe brown beans, then comes the fried fish pieces or goat meat stew, or today there was even beef too. You simply take a little of whatever you like and pile it all on the same plate. With it we have bottles of soft drinks or water. As dessert there are tiny sweet bananas or tree tomatoes (a mix between passion fruit/kiwi/tomato but very sharp and mainly seeds). Sometimes they serve vegetable soup (blended) for dinner with a less exhaustive “melange”.
On Thursday night we went out to a pub quiz VSO had organised for us and had the popular local dish of goat kebabs with chips. It was quite good food and the quiz was fun. Some of us went off yesterday afternoon to take the local bus down to the town centre. Ancient Toyota mini buses with about 12 seats cram in about twenty passengers for the 15 minute journey, which costs 180 francs – less than 18 pence! The local passengers are friendly and laugh at our attempts at Kinyarwanda and chat in French or English. We had a wander around the shopping area and found a bar with a first floor balcony for people watching. The shops are mainly tiny but there is a modern shopping centre and a few larger supermarkets which sell most things. We have to shop next week for household things – sheets, towels, pillows, candles etc. That will be very hectic I’m sure.
Most mornings the weather starts off bright and sunny then by lunch time the clouds begin to build up ready for lightening and heavy rain late afternoon or evening. One night it rained a lot during the night too, but the days have been warm and pleasant. It gets dark about 6.00 and the mosquitoes come out, so we need to put on repellent and long sleeves. Of course we sleep under mosquito nets too. Most evenings we make the most of a nearby bar and our friends, while it is possible.
The Kinyarwanda lessons are proving a real challenge for most of us – the more we learn the more difficult and complicated it seems. Apparently no foreigner has mastered the language and there is no fixed grammar rules which have been agreed by all. Eg they pronounce “r” and “l” in the same way so the spelling is either. Our teacher says “Emiry” for “Emily” and writes words with either letter!
I haven’t started my blog, yet as I’m planning to do that when the placement proper starts. More news will follow in time!

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