“And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire --
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
-from The Buddha's Last Instruction”
― Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1
Mushu and I have returned to Kibungo via embassy motor pool and I am overjoyed to finally begin teaching tomorrow evening. When I teach, I am filled with endorphins and a sense of purpose and that I actually am good at something, so I know that beginning my work will have a huge impact on my overall life satisfaction.
(But is life satisfaction necessary? Ponder that one for a bit, as I have been...)
It was a wonderful, though unexpected, few weeks in Kigali. I formed connections and relationships, had fancy dinners with other human beings who are interesting and smart, became a moto-taxi regular, bought tons of dried goods (lentils, coffee, chickpeas, rice cakes, etc.) to bring to my city in the boonies, got to assist and observe some very meaningful projects, and overall enjoyed getting to experience my first impressions of Rwanda with friends rather than alone. It was truly a gift. Out of precarious circumstances can sometimes come the greatest experiences.
I have returned to a home that is safer, has (cold) running water, and a toilet that flushes at the push of a button! I feel like a queen. Or at least some version of a demented royal. There are still rats running around, after all.
Yesterday was spent going to the market alone for the first time and stocking up on produce, flour, sugar, TP, and random things like nails to hang art I purchased in Kigali and rope to make a clothesline. All along the way through the market I was keenly aware of everyone's eyes on me, and was lucky enough to find people to help me make my purchases at most stalls. When someone wasn't around to translate, I had sellers write prices on a piece of paper. This was very amusing to the masses. "I'm not afraid to look stupid, I just want some mangos, please, and stop giving me white man prices" may have exited my mouth at some point.
I came home and hung my mosquito net and clothesline, cooked lentil stew over my gas stove, and spent time in the library downloading The Walking Dead and preparing for my lessons this weekend. At the end of my first day back I felt accomplished (little things matter!), proud of myself, and ready to face (mostly) whatever comes my way in this tiny town. I have a gift of better perspective and expectations for my (first?) year here in Rwanda. I am not super-teacher. I am not super cultural ambassador. Hanging my mosquito net and using pen and paper to have people write down prices of produce in the market adds up to a successful day. It is enough. It has to be enough. If I tell myself it's not enough, then I will constantly feel like a failure. Because life in Africa is just damn hard. It's beautiful and redeeming and contemplative and life giving and there's no where else I'd rather be - but it's still hard.
I could wax on semi-poetically about Rwanda, but rain clouds are building and I have to walk 20 minutes to the post office today to send some paperwork to DC. So my ramblings can wait. (You're welcome, probably).
|new clothesline, whooohooo.|
|Mushu greeting his fans|
|the 2 hour ride to Kibungo from Kigali|
|new nightly activity: gecko chasing!|
|evenings in Kibungo brought to you by battery lanterns and coloring books. who needs electricity?|
walk slow. xoxo.