Slowly slowly I feel my heart opening. I witness my guard coming down. I feel more love.
Today I walked through the streets and got to really see what life is like here on a Sunday afternoon. I was not in the center of Kigali, and not in my fancy neighborhood Kiyovu, but in a regular suburban area. I got a real sensation of being in Africa.
Afterwards I went to our Sunday class at the Mosque. I was early so I was able to sit and relax with the children for awhile. I bonded with one little boy who I had met before. He is mute and deaf but we were able to communicate through action. He particularly enjoyed being the guardian of my camera and taking pictures of me and the other children. Then all the children wanted to use the camera and I couldn’t dream of saying no.
The other notable event this week was American Thanksgiving. I am the only American volunteer with this program at the moment so I decided to go ahead and celebrate with my international friends. The day started with a trip to the market accompanied by our house cook, Seraphine. She speaks a bit of English but is more comfortable in French so we brought my little dictionary along. We took the hike up our hilly neighborhood streets and over to the center of town where the buses converge stopping to gather lovely yellow flowers that had fallen off some trees. These I would use to decorate the table. The men loading the buses eyed Seraphine and persistently tried to draw her into theirs. She resisted, holding out for a near full vehicle that would surely be leaving the soonest. We grabbed a spot but switched when we found the window wouldn’t open. It would be a very hot ride the way they pack in bodies into these mini-van looking buses.
Seraphine pointed out embassies and other buildings of note along the way. I was filled with a warm thankfulness and the deepest desire to rid her of her painful memories. We talked about her children both biological and adopted and her husband who died as she gave birth to her littlest one. And then we arrived. The market was as colorful and packed as I remembered it, only now I had a local guide. I followed Seraphine as she navigated through the aisles giving stern “no’s” to inflated prices. Again the thankfulness swelled as I watched her in action. It would have been more than difficult to shop with out her considering the language barrier and my ignorance of the local prices. I imagine I would have ended up spending at least double.
And then, we were homeward bound. We got off the bus at a different spot than we got on and I followed Seraphine as she weaved through secret shortcuts until finally we were home. I must admit I didn’t recognize much until we were almost standing in front of my house. We unloaded and prepped for my Thanksgiving feast. Seraphine was kind enough to relinquish control over her kitchen and even eager to see what the strange American was doing. I wished she could have seen more, but most of the cooking had to be done closer to dinner when she was already gone. I made string beans with slivered almonds and red onion, roasted eggplant, zucchini, and cauliflower, candied carrots, and pasta with an eggplant, tomato, basil sauce. I managed to secure some left overs so she could try my creations the next day. The carrots were her favorite.
Dinner was great! My Canadian housemate invited her friends and they contributed mashed potatoes, an incredible salad, and chocolate cake with ice cream. We had also had a local guest Egide who is a student and friend. I was able to skype with my family and the connection was so good it was like they were right here.
I went to bed feeling super satisfied and slept like baby!
Don’t forget to check out the pictures!