Sep 20, 2015

The time I moved with my Chinese cat to the boonies of Rwanda.

I'm not sure how to make a well-rounded, well-written blog. What story do I hone in on?

Do I tell you about finishing up orientation in Kigali and having a VIP lunch with the US Ambassador to Rwanda? How she was inspiring and talkative and interesting and chatting with her over baked chicken was fun and surreal?

Do I tell you about the fabulous other Fulbright ETA's and English Language Fellows who are in Rwanda and make me happy to not be "alone" here, even though I am the only one in the Eastern Province. And how we had Indian food and Ethiopian food in Kigali and had my first taste of Turbo King beer on a rooftop eating pizza.

Do I tell you how tickled I was that Mushu got to ride in a US Embassy vehicle (how many cats get to do that??) and we drove 2 hours through the countryside to my new home Kibungo.

Do I tell you that I arrived to a home with no toilet seat, running water, fans, internet, fridge - nothing and how I cried for an hour on my couch because

Or how about how I pulled it together and realized that things will get fixed and my house is beautiful and I have a new appreciation for how every drop of water counts. That I pour water from jerrycans into buckets to wash my hands/face/teeth and that I flush my toilet with the same water.

Do I tell you how I was having coffee on my porch this morning as a stream of curious folks walked up to the barbed wire fence around my house to talk to me in either broken english or kinyarwanda. that my house feels more like a community freak show than a haven. My house is in a high foot traffic area, and word has gotten out about the white girl with a white cat.

Should I tell you how I had a constant stream of people in my house today to fix things, clean things, squeal at mushu, and mime with me over basic communication. How my cleaning ladies took me to the market and we saw someone getting handcuffed and they had to type prices into their phones because they don't speak english and my kinyarwanda is only 6 days old. My first market purchase consisted of milk, 6 eggs, 2 apples, a bunch of small bananas, and 2 avocados.

Do I tell you how a "crazy person" was sitting outside said barbed wire fence staring into my house and the school campus guards had to shoo him away. How I was told repeatedly to keep all windows locked and I am having trouble feeling 100% comfortable in my own home.

Should I tell you how the streets are friendly and people say hello in a nice way, rather than an annoying way. How I feel a curiousness but a welcoming presence from the locals and appreciate a population that says hello to strangers on the streets, much like we do in America. It's so refreshing. I am used to keeping my head down or not saying hi (thanks, china) and I keep having to remind myself to look people in the face and greet them.

Do I tell you how I keep speaking Chinese to everyone because of second language interference? How I am a redhead wandering around Rwanda speaking Chinese to people and they don't even know it?

Do I tell you how Mushu is the greatest goodwill ambassador of all time? How he is chill and calm and has been friendly to all the rough face patting and poking from Rwandans who have no idea why this red-haired chick just showed up with a cat and keeps it in her house! I was told, "we don't keep cats inside!" by a teacher who speaks english. But the vibe, though inquisitive, is very happy! They giggle and laugh and think it's hilarious. One cleaning lady was calling his name and he came right to her! I was holding him on the porch while having a little chat with randoms and I just leaned to Mushu and kissed his head as is my habit. The crowd went wild! That was NOT something they had ever expected or seen. I didn't even realize I had done it until they went nuts. Hilarious.

I can't decide which story to elaborate on. The challenges? The excitement? The inspirational moments? How about I just let you know I'm here. I made it to Kibungo. I moved to the countryside of Rwanda with my cat.

No photos tonight because of internet speed...I'll try to upload some soon. This place is really gorgeous. And hopefully sooner rather than later it will feel like home.

walk slow. xoxo. 

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