A High Day in Rwanda
Trip Start Mar 31, 2009
23Trip End Apr 22, 2009
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There was a surprise waiting for me inside the Toyota Carola. The steering wheel was on the right, that wasn't a surprise even though Rwanda drives on the right. Up until recently most of their cars came from the former British colonies around them that still drive on the left - Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. So you find both configurations in Rwanda. The surprise was a large nontransparent cloudy white spot on the windshield right in front of me. I noticed there was a serious-looking hole in the windshield at the bottom of the blob as I dubbed it. I wondered if they had somehow frosted the windshield to stabilize it after this hole occurred. When I asked though, it turned out to be the other way around. The driver explained that the blob just happened one day. He assumed that a seal had broken and air or liquid had accumulated, so he chipped the hole in the windshield to let whatever it was out. But that didn't help. Now I had a blob, a hole in the windshield and cracks already spreading.
It was too late to make arrangements for another taxi, so this was going to be a rather strange trip. Sensory deprivation is not pleasant on mountain roads.... We started the expedition to Giti right on time. If I leaned to my right, I could see out the middle part of the windshield, and take photos by holding the camera there as well.
On the outskirts of Kigali we picked up Nathan and Mo´se from Burundi, then continued on, observing the usual colorful activities going on along the side of the road.
Teachers must now teach in English, even if they themselves don't speak it very well. It will be a hard transition for those who had their higher education in France or Belgium. Many Rwandans speak good French but not English. The learning curve will be steep.
We chatted off and on as we drive the half hour out of town to the road where we left the blacktop and started on dirt roads. As if on cue, that's when the rain started. This is a rainy season in Rwanda, so it wasn't unexpected, but it does make the drive to Giti more difficult.
We slipped and slid and bounced and rocked our way up the mountain-side to Giti. That part of the trip took 90 minutes.
The rain slowed everyone's arrival, even those who live in Giti and walk to church. The van with the church members from Remera arrived about 20 minutes after we did; people trickled in through the rain with very muddy shoes, which they cleaned in puddles outside before entering. We finally started services about 11:00; there were about 70 of us present. As the congregation sang hymns in Kinyarwanda, I sang along with a French hymnal. Those from Burundi can understand Kinyarwanda well, the languages are very similar.
We had announcements, the choral sang,
After services I showed the video of the African youth camps and commented as we watched.
The menu included chicken, potatoes, unleavened bread, boiled eggs, local cheese, avocado, bananas for dessert and a coke or fanta. The ladies did a very nice job, and we enjoyed having the meal together.
The drive down the mountain was hair-raising. We were very thankful that it had stopped raining an hour or so before we left, but the roads were soaked. The car often lost traction on all for tires and slid, sometimes completely sideways. There are places where there is no bank on the side of the road. If we slipped over the side, it would be a long steep way down.
In fact as we drove into Kigali, a policeman at a checkpoint waved us to the side. He told the driver "your car is very dirty, you must clean it." Apparently it's a minor infraction to drive with a very dirty car. We were let off with a warning....
Back at Chez Lando I had another meeting with Charles, Edison and Triphose. We finished going through our fundamental beliefs and discussed practical applications. They finally left about 7:00. They had hoped to attend our leadership conference, but I felt it was too early for that. I didn't want to make the presentations less effective for our church leaders by having to simply or over-explain the presentations. Rather, we agreed that I would reserve several days for meetings with their group leaders the next time I went to Burundi, possibly in July.
I had a pizza for dinner here at the hotel (puffed up crust!), and will head for bed early tonight.