28 June 2006

happy hour

by Cecily
I drink water all the time these days and I don't know why.

All my snarky comments about equatorial weather, before I left, were really just for effect. I knew that Rwanda's weather compares favorably to almost everywhere else, but I like to make dramatic statements regardless of their veracity.

The weather here is, in fact, lovely. It is never colder than 65 and never hotter than 85 (these numbers are based on my internal thermometer, not on any actual statistics. Who believes statistics anyway. Not me.) It sort of briefly rained one day so far. Today was as bad as the weather gets: it was overcast and only 70.

Plus, I never do anything very strenuous. I get up, sit on the balcony and drink coffee, drive to school, sit in a classroom and videotape children, drive home, sit at a desk and compress video, go downstairs, sit on the balcony again and drink beer and watch birds, go upstairs and compress some more video, and go to bed.

So I don't really understand my unquenchable thirst. You might be tempted to blame it on all the coffee and beer, but why would that suddenly cause me to drink two gallons of water a day? I am only exaggerating a little tiny bit. Right now it is 6:38 and so far today I have drunk five liter bottles full of water. Plus some glasses of water too. And only two cups of coffee at 8:00 this morning: not that much!

Partly it is probably because I am not drinking any milk. AT ALL. Normally I drink about two gallons of milk per week, all by myself. I think I would drink more than that if someone else were in charge of grocery shopping, because I also usually run out of milk a couple of times a week and have to go to the liquor store on the corner to buy more. And they only sell whole, which is delicious, but unhealthy. Or so I've been told. I buy it anyway, I need the milk!

One time when I was in college I tried to drink a gallon of milk in an hour. I couldn't do it. Then my challengers gave me another half an hour and I would still retain my glory. I couldn't do that either. I made it to maybe one glass left in the jug and then I threw up. A lot. It was disgusting.

I didn't die, though, or have to be rushed to the ER for lactose poisoning. Which convinced me that lactose poisioning was all just a lie invented by Keith to start an argument with me. I'm not sorry, though, because in the end I got a fair amount of glory out of it all anyway.

During the whole episode, a lot of discussion was had about how much of various liquids various people had consumed and/or seen other people consume. And someone claimed that drinking too much WATER would give you "electrolyte poisoning". I semi believe this, because "electrolyte" sounds scientific.

Based on these facts, I am going to switch from water to beer now. I am only trying to use preventative health care skills! I don't want to get any electrolyte poisioning!

26 June 2006


by Cecily
The day before Emily left we had a Fanta Party. It was a very hectic, last-minute arrangement, as are so many aspects of my life.

First thing in the morning, we had set up a meeting with the director of the school to talk about future contact, most-needed items, etc. We hired Sam to interpret between English and French, Emily interpreted between English and ASL, and there was some Rwandan sign language and lipreading in various languages thrown in there as well. At the end, I think we all basically understood each other.

It was 10:00 by the time we were done with the meeting, learning the names of swarms of children, taking group photographs, etc. We had to drive Sam back home, and we wanted to go get a bunch of Fanta for a good-bye Emily party. "Fanta" here is like "Coke" in Florida; it just means some kind of soda. Anyway we decided that we would not come back and teach that day, but deal with our Fanta purchase and come back at 4 when school is out.

Then the excitement began. There are 140 children at the school and around 20 teachers and other staff. So we needed 160 bottles of Fanta.

That, my friends, is a lot of Fanta.

Things, including Fanta, are pretty cheap in Kigali and I was under the impression that I had 60,000 francs on me because we were planning to go shopping at the art co-op place. Which is WAY more than enough for Fanta, even for 160 bottles. Some fast (and incredibly accurate) mathematical calculations led us to believe that we would need 7 cases. A case (24 bottles) is 3,050 francs. So, that should cost something like 22,000. No problem.

The next chore was to go to a place where one might be able to buy 7 cases of Fanta. Emily and I, surprisingly, did not know where to begin. So we asked Sam to come to the rescue once again. Luckily Sam is probably the nicest person on the face of the earth, so he was happy to help.

He took us to a place where it was immediately obvious that Rwandans buy Fanta there, not Americans. From the reasonably car-friendly street where I usually drive, we turned onto a not-so-car-friendly dirt road, dodged some enormous trucks and the ever-present crowds of pedestrians, and parked by a gigantic tower of red crates.

We stepped out of the car and were surrounded by people. Staring at us, not in an unfriendly way, but definitely in a way that made us feel very fish-out-of-water-y.

Sam arranged everything with the head Fanta seller guy. However, it turns out that if you want to buy seven cases of Fanta you have to give them a deposit on the bottles. (Bottles here are more expensive than their contents, I assume because there are no glass-making facilities anywhere. So all the bottles get cleaned and re-used again and again.)

The total for the Fanta was, indeed, something like 22,000 frw. The deposit was 30-something thousand. 30,000. For a total of 52,000 frw.

550 frw = $1 US.

So that's altogether about $100.

Anyway, whatever, we knew we would get the deposit back as soon as we returned the empty bottles. So I went back to the car and locked myself in to deal with my cash.

Whence I discovered that in fact I did not have 60,000 frw. In fact I had 40,000.

So there was some fast renegotiation of everything and we decided to get 5 cases and come back later. The cases were flung wildly around in a way that made me slightly nervous, and slammed into the back of the car, and we were off!

Except we couldn't turn around, because we were in a narrow dirt road lined with people and crate towers and booths of vegetables. So, we went forward.

Forward was a fragile-looking wooden bridge over a deep gully, MAYBE wide enough for one car. On the other side of that was an even narrower alley where Sam wanted me to turn right. Again, lined with even more people and vegetables and fruit, now mostly displayed on blankets on the ground. Eventually I managed an approximately 50-point turn without knocking anyone over or smashing any wares.

You should all be aware that this is a stick-shift, largeish SUV that I am driving, with two passengers and 120 bottles full of soda pop in the back. And that I am usually surrounded by a lot of small children who like to get as close as possible to the vehicle. And that this road was not meant for driving, really, and the difference in elevation between various parts of it is at times over 1 foot.

Eventually, with some deep breathing techniques, I made it to the next block where I was turning right again to get back to the main road. At the intersection between this road and the main road was a cliff that I had to drive up.

I'm not sure if my perception was totally accurate, but it seemed like a 30-degree incline. Decorated with 2- and 3-foot-diameter boulders. In a stick shift, surrounded by children, onto a street with two-way traffic and no signal.

That involved some more deep breathing.

Then we went home, and discovered almost one case worth of Fanta under the sink. (Since when do my parents drink soda pop?) And ate lunch, and went back and bought another case, and drove to another part of town to exchange some American money, and went back home, and sat on the balcony, and drove back to school.

Did I mention that all of the main roads were under construction that day? Roads that are normally one-way were suddenly two-way and roads that I usually drive on were suddenly covered in huge patches of wet tar. And there are confusing methods of traffic control in this country involving police guys standing around laughing at me when I make a lot of mistakes. Which happened a lot of times in a row, holding up traffic and causing a fair amount of ire in other drivers. Ire and honking.

We made it to the school, where all of the children were swarming and signing and telling us their names and asking us if we remembered how to spell their names (we mostly did not). The high school girls did a dance to drumbeats which was incredibly beautiful and the 2- and 3- year old little tiny boys gave Emily a present. Then we drank Fanta.

assembly outside



The children are drinking some Fanta

Emily is drinking Fanta too

25 June 2006

24 June 2006


by Cecily
Now that Emily's gone, all I do is hang out with a bunch of wealthy expats. The "international" crowd is kind of weird. Last night I had dinner at the American Club. Some of you may remember this club as the one with the sign that said "No rude or obnoxious behavior will be tolerated."

sign at the American Club

They've taken that sign down but it's still the same place. Friday is Movie Night. The Marines show a different movie each week and dinner is served and the Marines run the bar which raises money for them to have a Marine Ball.

Because heaven forbid the Marines raise money for any of the people who live on less than a dollar a day, all over this country. You know that bumper sticker about schools getting all the money they need and the army having a bake sale? Well, this is sort of similar I guess. Except instead of "a bake sale" they are having "a bar" and instead of the schools getting all the money they need, the schools still aren't getting any money. Bake sales for everyone!


To get into the American Club you have to either be a member or pay 1,000 Frw. That is a little less than 2 USD. Last night the issue was raised about whether or not I might be able to get a one-month membership. I didn't really care except that I really want a membership ID. Come on! It is a laminated card identifying me as a bona fide member of the Kigali, Rwanda AMERICAN CLUB! CLUB AMERICA! Woot.

After that, I drove around in the dark, BY MY SELF, to go to a hotel out by the airport. I was meeting a bunch of Canadians we met at the gorilla park. They are not wealthy expats, they are non-profit workers running a program for kids in Tanzania. We watched the France v Togo game on a movie screen and drank beer. It was very fun.

Now, today, I am going to play bridge with The American Ambassador. Then we are going to some Greek restaurant with some other bunch of people.

So as you can see I am extremely busy and important and well-connected. Meanwhile, Emily is enjoying her weekend of jet-lag in Minnesota and not playing ANY card games with ANY ambassadors. Sucks to be you, Emily!

22 June 2006


by Cecily
This morning I was interviewing a bunch of 14-year-olds. My research project is about phonology (yes, of a sign language. Maybe I'll talk more about that later). But my data collection is basically just getting kids to talk about stuff. During the part I was doing this morning, they were in a group looking at pictures and telling me the signs for various things.

The point of the group was to see if they would agree or disagree about vocabulary and/or sign production.

And they did. So it was a very productive session, in which I got exactly what I was hoping for.

And a lot more that I was really not hoping for at all. Some of the vocabulary items I was trying to elicit were kinship terms. Or for those of you who complain about linguistics people, "names for family members". Mother, father, sister, brother, etc.

A friendly dispute arose over whether a certain sign for "father" is a REAL Rwandan sign or if it is an ASL sign. This led immediately into a general discussion about everyone's family members, and who was alive, and who was not, and when and why they had died.

Of that group of 4 kids, none of them have 2 parents. One has a dead mother and the other three have dead fathers. One died of AIDS last year, two died in the 1994 genocide, and one died in a 2000 uprising. All of the students also listed multiple other family members who died either during the 1994 genocide or since. And I got some graphic descriptions of what "genocide" means, and the difference between that and other violent deaths which are not related to genocide.

So I learned the Rwandan sign for "genocide". It's the same as ASL for "electricity".

These aren't the 14-year-olds, I just wanted to close with something cheerful.

21 June 2006

Bye, Emily

by Cecily
Emily left today, I'm very heartbroken about it. We had a very exciting last couple of hours. Her flight was supposed to leave Kigali at 4:40, via Ethiopian Air. So we were planning to leave at 2. My dad was coming home from work to drive to the airport, because it is sort of far away and I don't know how to get there really.

But suddenly the phone rang and it was my dad who suddenly had to rush to the Embassy for some reason so I had to drive to the airport, where I had never driven before, so my dad rushed home to draw us a map and show us directions first. Because none of the streets have names here and so you have to just look for landmarks and keep in mind generally which hill you are aiming for. We weren't too worried though because we were expecting Sam, the housekeeper, to come over at 2 and he knew where to go so he could come with and direct me.

Then my dad rushed back to his office and Emily and I watched Law & Order, until suddenly the phone rang! And it was my dad! And his Ethiopian colleague had just called Ethiopian Airlines to make sure the flight was on time, and they had changed the schedule! So the flight was an hour earlier than expected! So we had to leave the house right now! Without Sam! And before we saw the end of the Law & Order episode!

So, we did. We got a little bit lost only one time, and we made it to the airport by 2. For a departure time of 3:30. From Kigali to Addis Ababa.

Nobody needs more than 1 hour of check-in time, seriously.

On the way back from the airport, I was all alone and following backwards directions/trying to remember if I recognized things. That was even more exciting. But finally I made it home safely and I spent the rest of the day compressing video and watching more Law & Order.

We also had a really exciting day yesterday but I am too tired to say anything about it now, plus I have to go watch some more Law & Order. You'll have to wait until tomorrow, sorry.

Note to Emily: It turned out that the wife didn't do it. The reporter shot himself to create a media frenzy. So the charges against the soldier were dropped and the soldier was shipped back out and the crazy reporter guy followed him because no one could prove anything against him, even though Jack and Selena totally knew what was going on.

20 June 2006

mountain adventure

by Cecily
Getting to where the gorillas live is complicated. First you have to drive northwest from Kigali for about two hours. The road is a two-lane, two-way very twisty mountain highway. With pedestrians along the sides and buses full of people and gigantic trucks and lots and lots of blind corners.

Then you arrive at Ruhengeri and just before the soccer field you turn right. Now you are on a dirt road instead of a paved road, but it is still a relatively smooth dirt road at the beginning.

It gradually becomes less and less smooth. The road runs between and through several tiny villages, and the trip involves many adults looking at the car and many children waving and many other children chasing the car asking for money and/or water bottles.

Then there is an intersection, at which point the road goes from rocky to crater-y.

After a while you pass the park headquarters and then right after that is the guest house where we stayed.

So, you stay overnight somewhere and then at seven the next morning go over to the headquarters. Everyone stands around and drinks coffee and displays their identification and permits and chooses which group they will be with. There are eight groups of gorillas that tourists can see, and a couple of other ones that scientific researchers can see, and then a bunch more that no one is allowed to interact with because they are wild.

We picked the Amahoro group. It means "friendship". There are 15 gorillas in it. No one else was in our posse, it was just me and Emily and my parents and the guide.

THEN, you have to get back in the car and drive as far as you can to the base of the mountain. Now the roads are not even like roads, they are like a series of boulders. You better have a tough car to do this part in, or you will have to walk a very long way.

Then you park and get out of the car and meet a bunch of soldiers. The soldiers have machetes so they can hack their way through the jungle, because there are only "paths" in an extremely limited sense of the word.

You walk up the mountain. First it is through farm land with furrows and rows and workers and goats and always more children; now the children try to sell you crayon drawings of gorillas.

Then the farm land sort of peters out into just plain mountain, and then that changes to sort of dry forest with not much groundcover, and then very jungly land where the ground is covered in vines so every time you step it is sort of springy and you don't actually touch any earth.

walking in the jungle

This part of the walk has a lot of stinging nettles of various kinds. They hurt a lot in a burning, numb sort of way, and then eventually (like a day later) fades to just itching.

We saw the biggest earthworm I've ever seen, far bigger than I would have imagined earthworms could be. We didn't take a picture because I don't know why. And I wish we had. This worm was seriously an inch in diameter and two feet long. Other than its freakishly huge size, though, it looked exactly the same as any other puny, pathetic North American earthworm.

So, after a while of hacking through the jungle, the guide will tell you to stop and take off your backpacks and get out your cameras and organize yourselves. And don't point! And if a gorillas starts pounding its chest at you, look down and try to look penitent. And don't cough or sneeze at the gorillas because they are very susceptible to catching a cold.

And then there is more stomping through the jungle until suddenly, about four feet away, is a giant silverback mountain gorilla sitting on the ground eating leaves.


That was a disconcerting moment. I don't know what I thought would happen, but I didn't think we would just sort of wander around in the midst of a gorilla troup and every so often, there is another one right there! Oh look, there are two babies play-fighting right behind you!

We were close enough to touch them at several times. We didn't touch them because these gorillas could kill you if they wanted.

2 year olds are brave and curious

But, they didn't want to. They just wanted to eat. Some little juvenile 2-year-olds thought we were very interesting and they came right up to the camera. Another mama gorilla with her baby on her back wandered through us and we all had to quickly get out of the way.

this mama and her baby walked righ through our group of people

So we stood around for an hour and took pictures of things and looked at those gorillas. Then we hiked back down the mountain and drove back across all the boulders and back through the villages and turned left at the soccer field and along the twisty mountain highway to Kigali where we went into the house and took showers and watched Saudi Arabia get schooled by the Ukraine and went out for Indian food.

And went to bed.

19 June 2006


by Cecily
Gorillas are big. We stood really close to them. One of them almost knocked a tree over on to me. (Accidentally.) (I think.)

I have to go eat now or I will faint of hunger. And apply aloe to all of my bug-and-stinging-nettle wounds and complain about them, because I am very stoic and pleasant to be around when some minor inconvenience occurs.

Later I will resize more pictures and put them on the internet.

18 June 2006

shopping, more nightlife

by Cecily
We drove to Butare yesterday. It's about two hours south of Kigali. I have some exciting video footage of the drive, but I doubt I'll be able to upload it from here. The internet connection is reasonable, but it's not US-style high speed.

We stopped on the way at a pottery studio and bought a very large amount of pottery. Hopefully it will not all break on the way back to Constitution Land.

Then we drove the rest of the way to Butare. We had lunch at a big hotel, which was pretty delicious. Emily ordered a croque madame, which in normal French restaurants and bars means a grilled cheese sandwhich. In this hotel restaurant, though, it meant a grilled cheese sandwich with a huge slice of pineapple in the middle.

She liked it anyway.

We went to ANOTHER store across the street from the hotel and bought a lot more things. Then we stopped at a basket-maker's stand on the drive home. The back of the SUV was full of things. It was very American of us and we felt a lot of national pride for representing our country in such an accurate way.

Then, last night, we were very popular and social. First was a Thai/French restaurant dinner. It was delicious. There were all kinds of interesting politicians and various international aid workers there, but I didn't talk to them. I played with the adorable kittens instead. Sadly, I did not bring my camera with me, or the rest of this blog would just be full of pictures of kittens.

I guess that's not really sad for anyone.

Luckily, I did not bring my camera with me, etc, etc.

THEN, we went to a Future Party. Well, that's not true. My parents went to a Future Party, and Emily and I went to a bar across the street. The Future Party was hosted by some Dutch people, I don't know who or what they do, and apparently it was full of African dancing. So I'm sorry we missed it. But we did have a very entertaining conversation at the bar with two gigantically tall Rwandan men. They were 1.98 meters tall. I don't really know how tall that is in feet, because REAL Americans don't know how to use the metric system. But by an experimental method involving a careful scientific examination of the difference between Emily and the top of the tallest one's head, I have concluded that they were 6'6".

Anyone who has a different interpretation of this data is wrong, because I don't actually remember the number of meters. So whatever it was, the 6'6" result is definitely correct.

Finally, we went to yet another party. We got there late, at about 11:30 I think, so it was a fairly calm period of the party. There was a lot of really delicious cheese and sausage, which I ate a lot of (mostly Brie, because really why bother with anything else?) and some wine. Some people were salsa dancing. I think. Some kind of twisty syncopated 2-step anyway.

Is that how you spell "syncopated"? Synchopated? No, I think I was right the first time.

Then it was after midnight, so I had turned back into a pumpkin and had to be taken home and put to bed.

Today we're driving north to the mountains and staying in a guest house up by the national park. Tomorrow morning we'll hike into the mountains and look at some gorillas. Then tomorrow afternoon we'll drive back to Kigali, and I'll put lots of pictures of gorillas on the internet, so that will be exciting for all of you.

See you later, alligators

17 June 2006


by Cecily
The mosquito net over my bed doesn't really fit the bed. I think the net is for a twin and the bed is double, or something. Maybe it's just a small net. Regardless, it doesn't cover the whole bed. I have it draped over the headboard and the right side of the bed, and then just sort of lying on top of the blankets down my left side and across at around my knees. It's functional, no mosquitos can get in, and I don't REALLY need the whole bed to sleep in.

Except I am the wildest sleeper ever. I thrash and roll and steal covers and elbow people in the face. When I was about 10 I somehow managed to jostle my mattress partway off of the wooden platform it was on, and then when I rolled over onto the unsupported part we all flipped onto the floor together. I woke up landing with a tangle of blankets and a mattress on top of me. It was very disorienting.

I haven't done that lately, probably because my mattresses haven't been on platforms since. But I still sleep furiously. I wake up diagonally or horizontally or occasionally upside down. Blankets and pillows and sheets always end up on the floor, and/or twisted around different parts of my body in interesting and uncomfortable ways. Sometimes the pillowcases come off of the pillows. It's very dramatic.

So, pairing me up with a big bed and a small mosquito net is asking for trouble.

And getting it. I haven't pulled the net out of the ceiling yet, but I do usually wake up with it wrapped around me in some complicated manner. I'm not sure the net is going to prevent me from being mosquito-bitten if it is skintight. I think the mosquitos's probusci (??) can fit through those holes.

Also, while I am used to having sheets and blankets wrapped around me when I wake up, I am not used to having them be attached to the ceiling. When I roll over into part of the net that is under me, it's like rolling into a soccer goal net. (Yeah! Ghana!) And then when I try to roll back the other way, everything just gets worse, and I become upset and confused and I would like to go back to sleep, but I can't because now I am halfway suspended from the ceiling and the circulation is being cut off from my arms and legs.

Oh, Cecily. Stop exaggerating all the time.

15 June 2006

you crazy white girls

by Cecily
Emily and I walked "downtown" today. We had the afternoon off because all of the children are cleaning the school.

I think they're cleaning. They're doing something, and whatever it is means that they were all busy. Communicating with all the people at this school has been pretty hilarious. The head nun talks to me in French and Italian, and once in a while I understand it, especially when she throws in some Rwandan sign language. Mostly I just say "oui" a lot of times and hope for the best.

She gave up on Emily right away, and now she will start to say something to Emily, then stop and throw up her hands in despair and hug Emily a lot. Then we all laugh.

Anyway we went downtown. I have no idea if it is actually called downtown or not. We got there by walking up to one street, and turning left, and walking until we got to the Chinese Embassy, and turning right, and walking to the next big street and turning left again, and then I'm not sure what we did after that. I totally knew where we were the entire time though.

We stomped our way through all the dust and shards of glass and politely shook our heads at all the people selling things at us. We were trying to find this one store on this one street that I went to two years ago this one time. I didn't remember how I got there or what street it was on though, so it's probably not super surprising that we didn't find it.

We did find many, many office supply stores however. And a number of dead or partly-dead chickens. We were dying of thirst and heat and sunburn so we had just decided to give up, when we magically found the store we were looking for.

No, just kidding. We didn't. We did find another, similar store, and we went into it and bought some things.

We were really excited to stop at a restaurant on the way back to have a beer. We had seen this restaurant on the way over. Its name is... something that starts with K. Karibu! So we were talking excitedly about this excellent idea, and how we were going to really enjoy the beer, and the water, and how great it was going to be. So I didn't really notice one boy among them all who was being especially insistent about selling something. I kept signing, and Emily kept looking at me, and the boy kept talking, and Emily kept ignoring him. So he switched from English to French, and then when that didn't work yelled "CRAZY MZUNGUS!"* and crossed the street back to his friends.

That's right. We ARE crazy.

*mzungu = kinyarwanda (and kiswahili) for "white person". Literally it means "foreigner" or "traveler" but in reality, it means "white".


by Cecily

14 June 2006


by Cecily
sunrise in Kigali

sunrise in Kigali

sunrise in Kigali

sunrise in Kigali

sunrise in Kigali

sunrise in Kigali

Britney rules the world

by Cecily
Every day we have to drive to the school a bunch of times. (There and back twice. So not that many, really.) I am getting really good at the route, and really good at not panicking when motorbikes head straight for me and veer off at the last possible second. I am getting better at avoiding the gigantic potholes, although I wouldn't classify myself as "really good" yet.

Driving feels like a video game. You have to pay really close attention and random things pop out at you from all directions. A huge bird, a hawk of some kind I believe, missed us by 2 feet a couple of days ago. One time I had to come to a full stop to wait for a car that was coming directly towards us, but backwards. Like in the Sherman Alexie story.

Some of the potholes are the size that I can drive over, with one wheel on each side. Those are pretty easy to deal with, except sometimes they happen more than one in a row, and then you have to swerve around to miss them both. But the really hard ones are the ones that are too wide to fit under the car; then you have to either go through it, slowing down to a crawl and gritting your teeth (the slowing down part is only if you see it ahead of time though. Ahem.) OR you have to go all the way around it, which means moving into the left part of the road (oncoming traffic, as much as there are lanes) or sort of creep by on the curb side.

I'm trying to just memorize where all the hugest potholes are, but they seem to change every day. That is probably my imagination.

The best part of the drive is a huge wall where someone has painted a mural. The mural is a white woman and the words "Britney Spears". The woman looks nothing like Britney Spears, either now or in her glory days, and the wall is just in the middle of a bunch of houses and some kind of furniture store. It's pretty awesome.

mural of Britney Spears on a road in Kigali

Note to my parents and grandparents, and Emily's parents: I'm not really exaggerating about the driving, but I really am fairly good at it. And neither I nor anyone else goes that fast. So don't worry inordinately.

12 June 2006


by Cecily
panoramic view of Kigali from my parents' balcony

moon in twilight over Kigali

Where we are

by Cecily
If you have GoogleEarth installed on your computer, you can see my parents' house. It's at 1^57'38 S, 30^03'54.5 E

I used ^ instead of a degree symbol because I am too lazy to figure out how to make a degree symbol

I mean, I am too busy doing important things.

The school is at 1^58'44.5 S and 30^03'03.5 E

11 June 2006

nightlife, traffic

by Cecily
Last night Emily and I went out dancing with a bunch of Marines.

Bars and dance clubs are the same everywhere. I went to a bar in Tblisi, Georgia (also with Marines) one time and people wore the same clothes and danced to the same music that they do in Montana and Washington DC and Minnesota and Rwanda. Weird. I don't know if this is an example of American cultural imperialism and our evil domineering ways, or if it is an example of the commonalities shared by all mankind.

It's probably an example of something else entirely. If you think of it let me know!

Today I learned how to drive to the school we'll be working at. I liked it, and I didn't run over anyone. Emily was nervous so maybe tomorrow we'll get her a crash helmet and some knee-and-elbow pads.

Traffic is interesting. There are a lot of people on motorbikes zooming around and a lot of people walking around carrying things on their heads and not really any street signs or lane markers. Roads here are full of huge potholes and you have to careen wildly all over the road to avoid them (and to avoid all those other things I just mentioned). Or you can just drive straight over them, which was mostly my approach this afternoon. My parents' car isn't very bouncy, so hopefully I will become more skilled at pothole-avoidance at some point in the near future.

Tomorrow we'll go over to the school and work out the schedule for teaching and researching. Then the fun begins for real.

10 June 2006

Hello again!

by Cecily
We arrived safely, although not very coherent. We were in airports and on airplanes for 24 hours straight. Then we amazingly stayed up all day yesterday too. Until almost 9:00!

So far I haven't done anything except get a massage and drink coffee. And watch 6 Feet Under. So my life is pretty hard, as usual.

I will do something exciting soon, and then I will tell you all about it.

08 June 2006


by Cecily
It's early Thursday morning, my time. I'm going to bed and then flying to Kigali, via Rome and Addis Ababa. I'll put something interesting up here as soon as I have it; meanwhile, think good thoughts about airplanes staying afloat and send me emails about nice things happening in your lives. Yeah! Africa!

03 June 2006

Yeah, nobody else thought I could do it, either.

by Cecily
This is what it looked like if you stood in the upstairs hallway at my house, at 10:00 this morning:
messy room from the doorway

Then this is what it looked like if you stepped into my bedroom.

very messy bedroom

It was not for the faint of heart.

I spent some parts of the day moving some art around (thanks Ben!) and then the rest of the day picking things up and putting them down in more appropriate spots. And washing them off. And washing off the dusty place where they were before. And vacuuming. And crying.

Well, I didn't really cry. But I felt like it, because I really hate cleaning up after myself. Or after anyone else, but I never do that, so it doesn't really pertain.

Luckily, at the end, it was worth all of my toil and trouble. Because look at this sparkling clean room!!!!

clean room from the doorway

I was done at 7:30. It practically gets even cleaner as you walk in the doorway:

cleaned up bedroom

I hope I don't mess it all up again before I leave on Thursday. Knowing me, I probably will.