Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kigali - first few days! No first impressions yet!

Finally, I am back in Africa. After a passport/FedEx mishap and rebooking flights, I arrived in Kigali a couple of days ago. The 30 hour long was definitely one of the most tiring ones that I have made till now, and I was surprised in Brussels that the terminal for Africa was in the middle of nowhere. It was great to walk out the airport to Elizabeth jumping and waving. :)

I am living at Shirley's - a professor in gender studies who is setting up the school for gender, culture, and development (?) at KIE (Kigali Institute of Education). There are three other girls here, along with Elizabeth and I, and I am hoping to write about what brings them to Rwanda eventually. Shirley's house is a luxury that I was not expecting - water heater for the shower, washing machine for clothes, and a help who makes us meals. And most importantly, wifi that works (although it can be rather slow especially with all of us trying to use it at the same time!)

Yesterday was our first face-to-face SHE team meeting. Julian came over to the SHE Headquarters, which is currently the patio at Shirley's. It was great meeting Julian in person after the numerous emails and skype calls exchanged. She is our local expert, and we spent the afternoon planning the rest of my trip, people I should meet and places I should visit. I am excited about what she has come up with and am looking forward to start my adventure.

I spent the morning going over the research plan again with E and J, identifying the people we need appointments with, and trying to plan the days we would visit them. I also started looking at questions to ask them, and preparing research tools for these individuals or groups. Post-lunch I took a little trip with E first to KIE, and then went to the bank to exchange some currency and buy myself a local sim card. This little trip alone made me realize that I should have brushed up my french before coming here. Last night while we were out for dinner I could not remember what the word for "food" was!

I haven't really been out and about to have any first impressions yet. My interaction with people has been limited to ordering brochettes (kababs), buying a sim card, and buying some meat for our barbeque tomorrow night. Tomorrow I will be visiting the city center and markets around and hopefully will have something to say.

The only thought till then is about how much this place reminds me of Ooty. Although it's certainly warmer, the hills around and the narrow roads and houses make me miss Charing Cross and the big moustached traffic police man!

P.S. It was taking too long to upload pictures so I'll add those later.

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