Tuesday, September 11, 2007

clubbing in butare and business cards


It's been almost 2 weeks since i last wrote. I've sat down many times to write the next installment in my journey, but i always get a little overwhelmed. There are too many tastes, smells, moments where i've laughed out loud in the street when an unknowing rwandan makes my day and i think to myself "I need to tell this story to my friends at home." and then I think of my beautiful friends at home.... who have their own lives and continue to wake up and drink lattes, go to church and plan weddings, all thousands of miles away. what do i say to them? what part of this silly little experience matters enough to send it (albeit electronically) a thousand miles away?

it's intimidating, to say the least (david wright, i'm afraid, takes the proverbial "intimidation-cake" :) add that to to the fact that I just finished "The Kite Runner" and now my confidence as a writer is significantly diminished in comparison. beautiful book. read it, everyone.

But we all have a story to tell, don't we? Even if it doesn't exactly make sense? so, take a deep breath

:: aaaahhhhh::

...and move forward.

Hmmm. ok. bullet point version (always helpful in school):

Last week:

-Met Dustin and Vaughn, two young dreamers from california starting a bike company in Zambia (http://www.abikes.org/), here for the week to check out Project Rwanda (a similar bike project in Rwanda, started by Tom Ritchey: http://www.projectrwanda.org/ check out the video gallery!)

Highlight: the night we were having a fancy dinner on the hotel's patio complete with live entertainment. Dustin and Vaughn politely asked to borrow the mic (and the band) and sang a riveting rendition of Enrique's "I can be your hero, baby" at the top of their lungs while the crowd of upper-class rwandans cheered.

-Friday, we road-tripped down to Butare, a southern province of Rwanda, for the "Wooden Bike Classic"; a series of 3 races: an 80 mile road race, a coffee-bike race and a 10 mile mountain bike course. "Team Rwanda" cleaned up the medals. The afternoons were spent lounging like fat Americans on the patio of the only suitable restaurant in town. it was a motley crew, comprised of big-shots from NGOs, Olympics-gold-medalists and editors of big magazines (notice how i didn't mention any names. don't want to get into trouble) and those of us who were just there because our dads were. Good people, bad beer, lots in common. What they say is true about doing what you love and meeting people you love because their doing the same thing...? you know, something fortune cookie-ish like that.

-Saturday night, there was a huge dinner held for all those involved in the races (i was invited by virtue of being my father's daughter), complete with rwandan music and dancing. all the muzungus (the local word for "rich" or "white" person) felt left out, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and find our own venue through which to express ourselves. a crummy, hole-in-the-wall called the "safari club" which turned out to be the only place open after 9pm, no competition. to accurately describe the wonders of the safari club would take several pages of writing. suffice to say, the only drinks at the bar were straight-whiskey, banana beer (locally smashed and fermented) and warm coke, and the whole place reeked of urine... as if people were literally wetting themselves while dancing. sorry for the detail. but, as always in these situations, there is strength in numbers. we banded together and had a great time dancing long into the night.

Highlight: glancing over my shoulder to find my little brother thomas in a circle (holding hands) with 5 rwandan men, dancing a sloppy form of what i now call the hokeypokey-caberet with lots of flailing arms. and yes, i regret to say, the rwandans were totally copying him. ever seen the 80's movie "can't buy me love"? it was sorta like that, the guy who has no idea what he's doing appears like he does because he's "popular" or, in thomas' case "white". I finally had to pull thomas away from a gentleman who was dancing a little too close (to put it mildly) for my comfort.

(To tommy's credit, he interacts with Rwandans like a dream. He has enduring patience for the language barrier, doesn't mind the the cultural standards physical contact (male hand holding, etc.) and has only showered twice since we've been here. I think he'll do just fine. Tomorrow (sniff) he leaves for the Orphanage. He, in spite of his relentless clueless questioning, will be sorely missed.)

-the weekend's festivities culminated with a wooden bike race, which (here comes a passive-aggressive side-note) i regret to report i missed on account of justin being grumpy and old-manish. he made us leave early and i was so annoyed that, like a 12-year-old, i didn't speak a word the whole 2-hours' drive home (real mature, maggie).

ok, so those weren't really bullet points as much as huge paragraphs. sorry about that. and i didn't even get to the business cards... but don't anyone freak out. i promise to address the business cards in my next blog.

I still don't have anything close to confidence concerning my presence in Rwanda, but i'm beginning to be more comfortable with that posture as time goes on and i am being met by God in simple and beautiful ways. for instance, i am typing from the couch of my new "home". I've been granted asylum with a lovely couple from the states, Otto and Virginia Helweg. Otto won the equivalent of a Nobel prize for water. He's in Rwanda drilling wells. Virginia, when she's not bird-watching or cooking me food, spends her days teaching art classes and writing a book on the Song of Solomon. I'm so thankful to be here. we have have a beautiful view of the city from our balcony. Free room, board, broad-band, and all the mini-bananas i can eat; What more could you ask for? I'm not exactly roughing it... as they say.

but who cares what "they" say?

goodnight, dear friends.


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