Thoughts from Rwanda: 10 things to Expect

Friday, May 20

We have been in Rwanda for 10 days now, and I have loved every second of it. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve sung and we’ve screamed. Here are 10 things I have come to expect in Rwanda:

1. Talking with strangers

Rwandans love to talk, and they love to talk to visitors. In restaurants, during events, and on the street waiting for a taxi, strangers have come up to use just to talk to us and welcome us to their country. If you ask a Rwandan a question, they will give you a story to go with it.

2. Africa-sized cockroaches in your personal space

I’ve made some new friends this trip: cockroaches. I find them on the patio, in the shower, and chillin’ on the wall beside the toilet. Getting close to nature, you could say.
3. Brushing teeth with limited water

We can’t use the tap water to brush our teeth. There’s one spot to get clean water, and sometimes that is locked when you need it. Several times I have been down to less than a cup of water to use to brush my teeth with. You don’t realize how much water you use until you can’t use the tap water.

4. Hand-washing clothes

There are no washing machines here. Clothes are hand-washed. The novices we are staying with wash most of our clothes, but we are required to wash the rest. I still do not have the skill mastered since my items were very stiff the last time I tried.

5. Not having working toilets

The school work at does not have toilets, at least the way Americans think of toilets. It’s more of a hole in the ground, and the smell of human waste fills the school grounds. There was only one working (women’s) toilet at the church we visited last weekend, and two didn’t work at the restaurant we visited last night. You don’t realize how big your bladder is until you have to hold it in for hours.

6. Sleeping more

The sun rises at 6 a.m and sets at 6 p.m. every day. Once the sun is gone, so is my energy. Most of us here working with AfricaReads are ready for bed at 9 p.m., but we rise at 6 a.m. when the sun shines through the window. This is the most I’ve slept since starting college.

7. Sweeter fruit

The food here may be bland potatoes and mystery meat, but the fruit is always sweet. The bananas are sweeter, the mango is tastier, and pineapple is juicier. Fruit has become a delicious dessert.

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8. Spotty Internet
Do not expect fluent internet. In fact, do not expect Internet at all. The internet here is slow, and most of the time photos and videos on Facebook feeds will not load. But that’s okay, because that means more time to enjoy the people and great scenery around you, and I like it that way.

9. Dirty feet

The red dirt is everywhere, and it will get everywhere on your body, especially your feet. My feet look like I’ve gotten a bad orange spray tan, while the rest of my is still whiter than a ghost. It’s a funny thing.

10. Beauty.

Look out to the city at night, and you will see hills of twinkling lights. Look around the city in the day, and you will see vibrant, partnered clothing worn by locals and color fruit being balance on the heads of women. There is beautiful, bright red dirt and fruit trees wherever you turn. I have met the beautiful joy of the people and their bright white smiles. God’s fingerprints are everywhere, and his craftsmanship is grand.

 

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