We arrived in Rwanda yesterday about mid-day. We took a bus, Kampala coach, from Mbarara, Uganda, where Canada House is (our main base when not at camp). It was amazing. The night before we found pringles, nutella, bakery food (which is absolutely amazing after 3 weeks of camp food), nuts, juice, and even yogurt. You are probably like, so what? But let me tell you about camp food. It starts off pretty good, but it is the same, every single day. Lunch and dinner are exactly the same.
Breakfast=posho (kind of like cream of wheat), bananas, and maybe some buns, which start out to be fresh and ant free (and after a while, they are still good, even stale and full of ants).
Lunch and dinner=posho (but in "cake" form, harder and spongy form of breakfast), matoke (green bananas boiled or cooked and mashed up), rice, red beans, cabbage, and maybe gnut (groundnut, which are essentially peanuts) sauce (which is amazing…).
Chai time=best time of day. It consists of chai (milk tea), bananas, and buns.
It starts out alright, but with each passing day, you get a little more sick of it. And more ants get in the sugar, and start digging ant hills and who knows what. I've even seen some of the Ugandans avoid it which I thought was funny. We've resorted to putting sugar in our tea and fishing out the floating ants. After one or two weeks of no butter, when we finally got butter, it was a very exciting time. It is kind of ridiculous when butter/margarine excites you. We even at one point resorted to making our own peanut butter because there was none in the trading centre nearby. One of the guys bought gnut flour and oil (which apparently both have worms in them, as told to us by one of our Ugandan staff AFTER we ate it…), and mixed it with sugar and/or honey to make peanut butter. It was unsuccessful. A mushy granola bar I would never eat at home becomes a delightful snack at camp too. It's really amazing what we will eat and what makes us excited (like butter…).
I totally forgot to talk about auctions in my last entry. So you go to church on Sunday. And towards the end of church you take an offering. But what do you put in the offering? Not just money, but food items! I thought this was very interesting, and biblical. If there is a poor family with no money to offer, they will offer what they can, such as some avocados, bananas, beans, gnuts, or CHICKENS. These items get auctioned off to members of the congregation that bid, and the money raised goes to the church.
We were at our second church service with one of ACTS groups, the Hope CBO (a choir consisting of people with Aids, but who want to bring a message of hope to everyone, and encourage getting tested for Aids), and we saw a chicken being brought up fro the offering. We thought this was very funny. Then, during the auction, Mike (an engineer on our team) decided to bid for the chicken, and ended up winning. So he was handed a chicken, and the chicken sat with us during the rest of the auction (which probably went on for another 1/2 hour). We learned at that auction (our second church auction) that it was customary for the winner of the bid to give away their item to a needy person.
So back to Rwanda. Our bus ride was pretty uneventful. We didn't stop from Mbarara to the border, which was about a 4 hour drive. We got off the bus, went to the Ugandan border office, and then walked to the other side and went to Rwandan border office. It all seemed very unofficial. The roads are hugely different between the countries. Uganda has incredibly massive crater-like pot holes in the roads, while Rwanda has very smooth roads. There is also a huge difference between the cities. Kigali is very clean, and very orderly. It almost seems like a North American city (bear in mind I've been in Africa for a month). People actually stop at stop lights, stop for pedestrians, helmets are required on motorcycles, and no more than 5 people are allowed in a car (or else the police might stop you). This is very surprising seeing as in Uganda, you can easily fit 6, maybe 7 people in the car, and if you have a truck, a seemingly infinite number of people can fit. We were even able to find a 24 hour supermarket with pretty much everything, as well as Bourbon Coffee, which is even nicer than Starbucks. My friend was saying it was almost like reverse culture shock just by going to this coffee place.
Today, we discovered it was a national holiday, so everything was closed until 12. So our initial plan of going to a Genocide Memorial was pushed back to later on in the day (which we have yet to do), and instead we opted for going to Hotel des Milles Collines (aka Hotel Rwanda) for some refreshing drinks, which we all pretty much ordered passion fruit-strawberry juice. The whole time so far, since the border to while we are here, we keep thinking about what it might have been like a little more than a decade ago. It is almost impossible to envision this city and country at war with itself, with such horrible things going on. It would have been likely at the border we crossed, people would have been pouring into Uganda from Rwanda. Now, it seems people are so friendly and genuine here, more so than Uganda in some ways. We met a lady on the street while asking her for directions to a market, and we ended up talking about church because she was on her way to pray, and found out her church has an English service (which have yet to go to one while here). We have met several others like this. It's really hard to tell though, because people in Uganda are very friendly as well.
This may be my last post for another month, but hopefully not. Until then, I hope everything is well back home!
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