Saturday, May 22, 2010


I've arrived in Rwanda, land of a thousand hills, and been immediately thrown into stress. There's usually a certain amount of smudge around - being from headquarters, one is often see as a "spy", not really understanding the "realities" of the field, and treated with some circumspect. This is normal, and can usually be overcome by the first or second beer, and some disarming humor.

However, this time around, the weirdness was also doubly stuffed with dynamics brought in by an important conference, and some surprising staff changes back home. Add dusting off some underutilized French skills while worrying about an ill mother and a newly purchased home (what if it burns down while I'm away?) and you've got a week that not even a gin and tonic can fix.


The conference ended yesterday, and I celebrated by crawling into my hotel bed and pulling the sheets up over my head.

There are things about Rwanda, though, that have not escaped my stressful orbit. One, there is very little garbage. Smog, yes; garbage, not so much. Paul Kagame apparently runs a very tight ship around here, and it's appreciated. It is also very hilly - they weren't kidding. Watching the cloud shadows play through the numerous valley's in the early morning sunshine is a pleasure worth taking.

Two, any mention of ethnicities is completely forbidden. In the wake of the Belgian's requiring culutural identification on national identity cards in the early 1900's, contributing to the bifurcation that precipitated the 1994 genocide, it is now illegal to openly discuss one's ethnic background, for better or worse.

Three, Rwandan French is much, much easier to understand than West African French.

Four, I am three degrees below the equator and should've packed more sunscreen.

Five, the universe still conspires to find goodness, even amongst stress.

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