Today was an odd day. I have two days left in my village, so I never really know what to do when someone swings by for a visit. Do I go into a long rant about how much they’ve meant to me? Do I offer to give them my cat? (I did a complete 180 and decided not to take CW with me on my travels home—I guess writing out that last blog entry and not being satisfied with my own logic forced me into reevaluating things). So I’ve started shutting the door to my house and watching T.V. instead. Super healthy. But it’s honestly just so much easier to pretend like I’m already gone—it lessens the stress of a prolonged, inevitable goodbye with people I truly care about.
So the day started out in much the same way that many days in Gitwe have over the past two years; staying in my pajamas much later than is culturally appropriate and watching Sherlock. A knock on the door announced a visitor, and so I grudgingly handed over what was left of my chapatti omelet to Charles and shuffled over to let them in. What followed was bittersweet—a good friend of mine dropping off a gift for my parents in America and a wall hanging for me. I hugged her, told her I’d miss her, and went into a long rant about how much she’s meant to me.
Shortly afterward, I was picked up in a CAR (yes, ladies and gentlemen—a CAR) by Divine and Eunice’s family. So much for no prolonged, inevitable goodbyes. They generously offered to take me to visit the King’s Palace in Nyanza, which is a 30-minute car ride away. On the way we stopped at the lake to take some pictures and talk about traditional fishing.
From there we arrived at the King’s Palace museum and found a guide to take us through and talk to our group in Kinyarwanda. Simon, the girls’ father, translated for me. I’m sure the American family we ran into in the reception area was a little confused about who I was and what I was doing there with that particular group. Who doesn’t belong in these pictures?
I’m lucky to have gotten this unique opportunity. Rwanda’s past with foreigners is a troubled one, and it’s a rare moment when you can explore those tensions with people that you are completely comfortable with. Looking at the photographs on the walls, the girls would be quick to point out the first foreigner in Rwanda (a Prussian explorer in the 1890s, if I’m remembering correctly—my memory has been damaged by all the T.V.) or a female European who looks ‘just like me’. It was interesting to see what they focused on and why. After the museum was lunch at the hotel where I’ve gone to swim in the past with other volunteers—how strange to go with my family from Gitwe! My world in Rwanda has been separated between my life in the village and my life with other volunteers, and this was one of those few times when those worlds intersected.
After a thoroughly filling meal the girls and I headed out to the playground to snap more pictures and hang out. Another shock—a PLAYGROUND. Wonders never cease. I guess my last few days in the village are preparing me for my first few days in America in a week. Buhoro, buhoro.