Rwanda, we’ve been together for three months. We began our relationship with me as a quiet 29 year-old, wide-eyed traveling soul who used bottled water to brush her teeth, and I’ve grown now into a 30-year old, cranky, loud-mouthed teacher who walks away from moto drivers when they attempt to overcharge by $.35. I’m surprised some days that you still put up with me, given that I can barely speak your language and harass your citizens with some sort of French-Kinyarwandan-Occasionally Polish pig latin, also known as whatever second language pops into my head when asked a non-English question.
But it’s been a good three months. They have been months with highs and lows, very excellent moments and very rotten ones (excellent ones spent above ground, rotten ones spent in ditches). And you tried, just last week, to break my spirit with a deadly combination of bacteria and amoebas lodged in my guts. But, still, despite the bout of Salmonella Typhoid, I still really dig you, sweetheart. Here, inspired by Bridget Jones and in celebration of the impending end of year (which I will spend in Belgium, Rwanda’s one-time colonial overlord), is my year in review.
- Ditches fallen into: 1.
- Fingers dislocated: 1.
- Carrots dangerously peeled with a sharp knife: 40+.
- Pots of drinkable water boiled: 100+.
- Bus rides between Kigali and Musanze: 16.
- Times someone attempted to steal my iPhone: 1.
- iPhone thefts foiled: 1!
- Hours spent teaching: 120.
- Hours spent deciphering lengthy Rwandan last names: at least 2.
- Students taught: 203+.
- Hours of teacher training conducted: 41.
- Times called “muzungu”: far, far too many to count.
- Times lied about marital status: 20+.
- Moments I felt so homesick that I ate peanut butter and/or Nutella with a spoon: 17+.
- Gigs of data purchased for iPhone for Skype, iMessage, Instagram, Facebook (i.e. trappings of First World Life): 45+.
- Blog posts: 33.
- Bratty, ranty blog posts: at least 3.
And then, there are the best things.
- New friends who keep me sane and listen to me when I rattle on: many.
- Old friends who listen from afar and tell me they miss me (though I miss them more): many.
- Video messages from my sister and nephew, telling me to “Have a good day in Africa, Leauntie!”: many.
- Moments my students make me want to cry: many.
- Moments I am humbled: many, every day.
- Moments I’m thankful for my life: even more, every day.
To the coming months! Love to you, Rwanda.