What didn’t we do today! Started with a morning work out at Serena. Lama and I went to the weight room and Kara swam, and I ran for 30 minutes. I took two short, fast-walking breathers in between, but ran for 25 minutes solid. Not bad for no exercise in years, unless you count those 3 minutes I wheezed chasing little kids on a soccer field. So that felt really good, and we worked up quite the appetite in the process.
We went to Bourbon for breakfast and we had a meeting there with James from Rwanda Relocation Services, and they help get ex-pats set up and accustomed to life in Rwanda. When we were getting well past the start time of the meeting, Kara called to find out what had happened, and James was at Bourbon at MTN center, not UTC, on the other side of town. At this point, neither he nor we had the time to still meet up, but we arranged for him to email us some information.
We left there to go to Sky Hotel, because we were taking Elizabeth and the others to Gashora to meet with the women and see COVAGA for themselves. Lama called Jobb too since he was back from a trip to Uganda. So after eating lunch at Sky and everyone getting together later than we planned, we were ready to go. There was Gerald, the owner of Sky and relative of Elizabeth’s, who was driving us in his van. There was Gerald’s two daughters. There was Louis, an old friend of Lama’s from Vancouver. Elizabeth. Paul. Sylvie, Paul’s mother. Lama. Kara. Jobb. Myself. The van was interesting. There were three seats in the front. Two seats behind it. Then a pile of cushions everywhere else and a mattress for a back rest. So 6 of us were just sitting on the floor for the ride to Gashora. It was making me motion sick not to see the road, but it was certainly comfortable.
This time at Gashora must have been the biggest muzungu swarming ever, but it was also because it was the biggest muzungu show ever. When we stopped the van and threw open the back door, 5 of us piled out. A van full of muzungus has probably never driven up to Gashora like that. I hadn’t brought my video camera this trip to Kigali, because we weren’t planning on going to Gashora at all and there was going to be nothing to film. It worked out fine, because a) there wasn’t much to film this time anyway, and b) it was really nice to just be a photographer only, not videographer. I haven’t had as much opportunity as I’d like to take photographs. We weren’t there too long, but it was nice to see the women again and I had a good time.
On the drive back I was again getting car sick and wondering if I was going to throw up or not, and will I have to ask to pull over, and how will I get over all these bodies quickly and get out the door, essentially just my usual everyday vomit fears. But my questions were answered when Liz beat me to the punch and got sick herself. She did throw up, she did ask to pull over, but didn’t make it over bodies and out the door quick enough, and ended up throwing up all over Sylvie, one of the daughter’s s, and the van. Everyone, Liz and Sylvie included, took it like a champ. I took this opportunity to move into a position where I could see the road to help combat the motion sickness. And really, if it hadn’t been Elizabeth, in five minutes it would have been me. Thankfully I made it back to town feeling alright.
We pulled over and stopped on the outskirts of Kigali where Gerald wanted to show us land he’d bought to build another Sky hotel. It was also right near another friend’s bar and restaurant, Buckingham Palace, so we went there to sit. Nobody knew what the plan was, but we ordered sodas in the meantime. Then sodas became beers, and beers became snacks and brochettes. And it was dark now. Our table kept growing too, and more and more friends of the people at the table we didn’t know kept showing up, so there were a lot of strangers.
At one point in the night, Kara and I were given Kinyarwandan names. Kara’s name is Mutoni, meaning Cherished or Preferred. Everyone agrees it is perfect for her. I was sitting in silence, contemplating and reflecting for most of the time at the table, and it is something I do often here. I’m not very solitary in Canada, but I get stuck in my head a lot here and lost in my thoughts. So my name became Amahoro, meaning Peace. I can certainly dig that.
We had been in touch with Taylor over the course of the day, and he invited us over for dinner at his place. Lama had other plans and was going to go a different way, and Jobb agreed to come with us. So the three of us left Buckingham Palace and Taylor said he was in a meeting and would call us when he was free, so we hung out in the bar at Dream Inn. For no reason whatsoever, we thought it would be a good idea at 8:08:08 on 08/08/08 to do a shot of whiskey in celebration. It sounded like fun, and even though I don’t like whiskey or shots, I agreed. The three of us hung out and talked until we heard from Taylor and we moto’d to his place.
At Taylor’s, we met a new person who’s come to help work with him. Her name is Chrissy, and she’s here for at least two months on sabbatical, and she is a fashion designer in New York. Taylor had bought some wine/beer, but it was warm so while it was chilling we decided to go get a drink in the meantime. And in this instance, a drink meant home made banana alcohol. So we walked to the local brewery that Taylor knows in his neighborhood and sat in this dark room with one tiny candle and ordered some banana brew. It took a while to come for some unknown reason, but we all had fun talking in the dark. When the “beer” finally came, it was…. awful I guess. We all got poured one cup and it tasted like hickory smoked pistachios in liquid form. Or at least mine did. I made a joke that we all got different flavors, despite all our drinks coming from the same bottle. But we tried each others. And they all did taste different. Mine might have been the worst too. It’s funny that there wasn’t even uniform flavor within the same bottle. It was gross tasting, but I was loving the experience and had a really good time.
We went back to Taylor’s house, and the 5 of us ate the most delicious pizza I might have ever had that Taylor’s new cook had prepared. We also drank the now chilled wine and beer. After dinner we discussed the possibility of going out dancing, but in the mean time started a dance party of our own. Chrissy had brought her iPhone and dock speakers, so she DJ’d us some good dance tunes. Taylor brought out a light kit with gels and lit the room orange too. We were also joined by the presence of Audra and Willy, making our crew bigger and more fun.
From Taylor’s house, we all walked up the street to catch motos or taxis. Eventually we took two cabs to Planet Club, one of the popular clubs I’ve yet to see. I’d say it is my favorite in town. It was the best combination of size, amount of people, music and level of hotness to the dancing. Plus there was room to sit and talk. I mostly danced all night, although I did take a break to argue politics with some random young british guy who supports Bush and wants McCain to win, and he also bought me shots that I repeatedly refused to take that he would not let me get away with and eventually I took them. People kind of left one by one throughout the night, and by the end it was just Jobb and I dancing. When I looked at my watch and saw that it was 5 am, I could not believe how long ago I should have been in bed. I had to get up and be ready by 8 to go to Akagera park. And despite my best efforts, I was actually drunk. So I took an overpriced moto back to the hotel and promptly went to sleep.