Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Blog is a funny thing

It's like reading a diary from back to front. If you haven't been following along the whole time you'll probably prefer to scroll to the bottom and read the posts in the order that they unfold. Otherwise, by reading from the top down, you get the end of the story first.

I've sent my reports to AIUM, SDMS & SVU. I've still got to send letters to some of the other donors. I've been invited to return and I'm in the early stages of working with KHI faculty, Lori Kimbrow and some other sponsors to return with a team of sonography experts in June 2009 to continue the effort of sonography education for the clinicians @ the district hospitals as well as any other persons who are interested in learning more about sonography.

If you've been following along, please add a comment so I can know who it was who was reading along from San Diego, Albuquerque, Ohio, Australia, Birmingham, Hanoi, England, Washington, New Jersey, Koala Lampur and all of those other places.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wrapping it up - Final Report

The full report including issues and possible solutions can be accessed through this link. click here for full report in PDF format. The main jist of the report is found in the following:
  • There is an immediate need for initial and ongoing sonography training of those who are currently performing the exams in the district hospitals. This could be easily coordinated through KHI and should be seen as an opportunity for Kigali Health Institute.

  • There is a need to increase the level of training for the graduating Rwandan physicians. I am ignorant concerning the methods for change or ramifications for affecting this change but nevertheless see it as a very real and practical issue.

  • There is a need to codify and ratify the professional description of a sonographer within the Rwandan medical delivery system.

  • The medical staff will be accepting of individuals who are qualified and certified sonographers

  • There are currently Rwandans who are capable of obtaining the training and appropriate certifications to practice sonography in Rwanda but not within the country.

  • There is currently not a single acceptable clinical mentoring location within Rwanda.

  • The question of will, national pride and long term resources must be considered prior to implementing a Rwandan Sonography program. Alternative partnerships and non-standard methods of training may need to be considered if there is a desire for sonographers during the next 5 years.

Wrapping it up - List of Tens, , , , well around ten :-)

Ten ways I know it's time for me to go home from Kigali:

  1. I've decided to strangle the next person who calls me muzungu
  2. In a conversation with an American I answer "Oi and merci" instead of yes and thank you
  3. All the mulberries are gone
  4. My food supply left in the cupboard/refrigerator consists of a bag of salt, some margarine, 5 tea bags, some stale couscous, and a box of hot breakfast oatmeal.
  5. The water goes out for two days and I have a blow-out with the house boy - Philbert
  6. My $10 of Skype credit is getting close to zero
  7. Matatas - I can actually understand the Matata drivers, conductors, Can rapidly assess the quality of each matata, Look forward to the rides and The people (ticket agents and beggars) @ Atraco bus lines know be by name
  8. I realize I haven't had a single solid stool in the past 60 days
  9. I can walk up any hill without getting out of breath
  10. I start making a top ten list
  11. I'm able to quote food prices at @ Kimironko market

Ten Things I was most happy to have: (Either brought or acquired) (with input from Terry Loughnan)

  1. Kodak EasyShare DX6490 Camera - With 2 Gb SD Card & docking station
  2. My own pillow
  3. A cell phone that worked in Rwanda
  4. Laptop with wired and wireless connections, Skype with a headset and video camera on both ends of the earth.
  5. Fresh, clean and crisp, 2004 and newer $100 bills
  6. A nice large day pack
  7. 2 Mb USB Jump Drive
  8. Electrical Adapter Kit + Extra adapters
  9. Storage trunks
  10. Leatherman Tool
  11. Audience Response system for teaching
  12. I-Pod with speakers, my music and charge kit (Terry Loughnan)
  13. A big Sudoku book (Terry Loughnan)
  14. Light clothing and light hiking boots rather than heavy (Terry Loughnan)

Ten things I should have left home:

  1. Inflatable Thermarest sleeping pad
  2. Direct box for connecting autoharp to a sound system
  3. PDA
  4. Rolaids chewables - 3 packs
  5. Spare batteries
  6. $20 US bills (Terry Loughnan)
  7. Jacket (Terry Loughnan)
  8. Taste for coffee, because I didn't have a good cup whilst here (Terry Loughnan)

Ten things I really wished for while in Kigali

  1. Having Shaloy with me
  2. Petting a pet
  3. My own transportation
  4. Safe water from the tap
  5. Water for showers
  6. My kitchen and it's utensils
  7. Better maps of Rwanda/Kigali
  8. A smaller laptop
  9. My church/Sabbath School support group/friends
  10. French lessons before arrival in Rwanda

Ten Restaurant reviews in Kigali, Rwanda

  1. Serena Hotel - The Mongolian Grill Buffet on Wednesday evening is the best value in Kigali. All you care to eat buffet with a salad bar, 1st drink, Mongolian Grill, hot bar with multiple choices, desert bar and fresh breads in the most upscale location in Rwanda. It feels like America for only 8,000 FRw or $16 US
  2. Indian Khazana The atmosphere is exotic with a wait staff dressed in fantastic Colonial Indian garb. The menus is extensive with many options for vegetarians. The staff is attentive without being obtrusive. The food is delicious and authentic but you should expect to pay between 8 - 10,000 FRw or $16 - $20 US. A great place for a birthday.
  3. KBC - The best lunch buffet in town is a hole in the wall on the north end of this complex of shops. Next door to the African gifts is a small shop with no external sign but from 12:30 - 2:30 some of the best lunch food in Kigali is served here. Expect to sit wherever there is a seat as the place will be packed. A great selection of well prepared local fare with multiple meat dishes which always had options of beef, chicken and fish. an assortment of salads, potatoes, greens rice dishes with some fruit and a glass of juice for 1,800 FRw $3.60 US. Food is cooked elsewhere but brought in for lunch only.
  4. Africa Bite - In the Kimihurura district two blocks down from Rue 1. This is a hopping place at lunch time with a great buffet of tasty authentic African dishes for 2,500 FRw or $5 US. 1 drink and a fruit desert included. A good value @ lunch time it changes character in the evenings as a quite reserve from the hubub of a Kigali day. The quiet garden seating is a great place to spend a few hours quietly visiting with friends. A limited menu in the evenings but the kebabs are a great value and the weekend chef specials would be your best options.
  5. Ice and Spice - Tasty Indian cuisine in Mumunge. It's a little less expensive than Indian Khazana but has none of the class. Expect to pay 6 - 8,000 FRw. ($12-$14 US)
  6. KIST Canteen - The cafeteria service of Kigali Health Institute (KHI) and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) provides a wonderful meal value to the faculty and students. Traditional African fair at a very reasonable price. Nothing fancy about the atmosphere but it's close, good flavor and cheap. The secret is that there are options but you've got to ask. These include Kinyomoro juice, fresh pineapple desert, chapats and African tea are all extra but you'll leave with having spent between 1,500 & 2,000 FRw ($3 - $4 US)
  7. King Faisal Hospital Food Service - Hit and miss but mostly miss. Expensive for what you get. It's only saving grace is that you don't have to leave to eat. My suggestion, , if you have time , , leave to eat. There are a couple of small restaurant options on the road approaching the the hospital. They are all better and cheaper.
  8. Flamingo Oriental Food - just down the street a few hundred meters from Africa Bite. Upscale dining hidden in a a neighborhood. You won't wander wander by and find this place by accident. Call ahead to get seating upstairs for a great view of Kigali by night. Service is above average with hot steaming, minted towels given before eating and to refresh you. The combination of atmosphere, service and good oriental dishes makes it a good option if you're okay spending 6 - 8,000 FRw ($12 - $14 US)
  9. Karibu - Just down the street from CHK hospital and around the corner a couple of blocks from KHI is a good value for lunch. 2,500 FRw ($5 US) is a great lunch buffet with outdoor seating in a gravel courtyard. Drinks are extra (standard prices) but the fruit desert is included. The best part of this restaurant is the options. It's standard African fare but there will be around 18 different dishes prepared and available.

Getting Home - To Chattanooga

Even though it was after 2 a.m. when I crawled into the lower half of the bunk bed I awoke around 7 without an alarm. The shower was open and I revelled in hot water and plenty of water pressure. I quietly had all of my stuff collected and the room triple checked by 8:00 am. A few minutes later I was standing @ the ticket counter buying my one way into London Bridge station. Eight o five I'm on the train, moto in hand, pack on my back I'm on my way to Heathrow through.

I didn't have to wait for more than 5 minutes for any of the connections on the tube but it's almost 11:00 am by the time I arrive at the Heathrow. I don't know which of the 5 terminals to go to and first go to terminal 2. The guy @ excess baggage is helpful and I hurry back toward the correct terminal #3. I'm almost there when I realize that both my hands are free, which means I don't have the moto. That panic feeling quickly hits and I can't remember if I left it on the tube train or @ the excess baggage. I'm trying to get back before my 24 hours is up and they charge me for "each portion of a day". We've gotten this far without losing it so it's worth the retracing of my route. Run the ten minutes back to excess baggage to find it sublimely resting on the counter. Then hurry back to terminal #3 and excess baggage. The cost is 36 pounds because I'm 24 hours and 20 minutes. I explained that I'd gone to the wrong terminal and the guy drops the extra 20 minutes and 18 pounds of fee. It feels like it's going to be my day!!

Hurry to American Airlines ticketing and there are no lines. Yes there are three flights today and for $200 extra (Non-refundable) I can take my chances and fly standby. The first flight is not too full and I have a good chance (I'm standby passenger #8). The 2 p.m. flight is very overbooked and the so is the 4 p.m. Things are going my way and I want to get home so I pass the credit card and hurry over to baggage check in. They take my bags and only charge me overweight on one. Print the boarding pass and tell me that the plane is a bit late but is boarding now. . Not only is it a long distance between this place and the plane but I have all of British Air Authority (BAA) screening to pass through. I run up the escalator through pre-screening and then hurry through passport and boarding pass check, then through declarations, then wait for the X-ray, then personal screening and metal detectors then through immigration where they stamp my passport out of the country and into the huge duty free plaza waiting area. Past the food court and the throngs that are shopping and down the passage ways to boarding terminals into another que and they check my bag and boarding pass again. At the gate counter they ask me to wait in a special section with the other standby passengers. Boarding has just begun and there are eight of us hoping for empty seats. Had the plane left on time the last five might have gotten places, but with the delay other stragglers with confirmed seats were able to make the flight.

One of us already had a confirmed seat on the 2 pm flight. I'm number four on the standby list for that flight. They issue me a new boarding pass for that flight and assure me that my luggage hasn't left yet. Unfortunately we are not allowed to wait in these terminals and must recycle through security. It's after 12:30 and I haven't eaten yet. It's only an hour before boarding begins, so a trip back into the duty free area will give me a chance to grab a quick bite. Through customs, x-ray screening, metal detectors and I'm back in the lounge area and filling my empty water bottles. As I'm waiting in a food line for my sandwich, I realize my hands are both free. In the rush I've left the moto somewhere but I've only ten minutes to eat and get back to the terminal for boarding. Once at the terminal and checked into the standby area I ask the friendly counter staff to call back to American's ticketing and baggage area to see if it's been turned in but to they don't have it and there is certainly no time to check with BAA before this flight departs. American Airlines has overbooked perfectly and though they get reassigned seats every passenger with a confirmed seat who arrives in time gets on. But no standby passengers are seated. There is still the 4 p.m. flight but when they issue my new boarding pass for this flight they tell me eight new passengers are waiting standby for this flight and they all have priority over me.

At least recycling through customs again will give me a chance to check with BAA for the moto. This time through there is an American just ahead of me and he's being quite the pain to the BAA people. Loudly complaining about the process and how it's not this way in the U.S. @ home we take off our shoes here we can leave them on. At home the computers come out of the bags but here you leave them in the bags. He's being obstinate and no amount of encouragement from his wife can get him to comply without complaints of "they ought to all agree on the same screening!". We ended up next to each other in the final x-ray screening area. I don't know what came over me, but I commented to him that I had once had a boss who had two types of employees "flexible and former". IT startled him that another passenger had said something so he asked "What?" and I reminded him that adaptation was a key quality of the success of the human race. Based on his glare, I perceived that this was not a teachable moment for him and was glad he didn't punch me. The supervisors @ BAA had a whole heap of left items but no moto (it's gone, I hope whoever got it enjoys it). I had an extra 20 minutes in the duty free area to scope out where I might spend the night if I didn't get on the 4 p.m. flight. The flight is overbooked and 12 standbys seems pretty dubious, but I've got nothing else to do so I head to the terminal again.

The four of us from this morning are becoming friends. There is a young lady returning from volunteering in southern Africa. She missed her AA flight this morning when her South African Air incoming was delayed two hours. She is on her way to Fort Wayne and is out of cash. She's looking forward to getting on the flight for the food. There is a couple from St. Louis who have been touring Ireland. They had not planned for the long ques they encountered @ 8 a.m. and by the time they got to the ticket counter their seats had been given away to standby passengers. The other 8 standby passengers were the overbooked folks from 2 p.m. who had missed the flight.

The plane started loading first class and business class, no standbys called. Then group 1 and then group 2. A standby woman with two small children was called up. Group 3 and another woman with two older kids were called. We weren't surprised when the young lady from Indiana got a seat as she was #1 standby for the 2 p.m. flight. We cheered and clapped when her name was called. Group 4 was called and they called for couple from Missouri. I hooted for them and they wished me luck. There was another woman with two kids but luckily for me just one seat left and she wasn't going to send just one child or leave them both so that left the last seat, , on the last row open , , , , for me!!!
I'm @ Chicago's O'Hare International just after 7 p.m. I'm through customs by 8:00 pm. I call and leave a message on my wife's cell phone to let her know I'm in Chicago. I've heard there is a train I could catch to South Bend, Indiana. South Bend is just 30 minutes from my daughter's home and Shaloy is visiting her this weekend as well as attending the Thomas family reunion today. Someone recommends a bus to South Bend and shows me where to catch it. While I'm waiting I borrow a phone to leave a message I'll be in S. Bend around 1 a.m.. Shaloy, Tria and Ben are waiting when I arrive. Thirty minutes later we're at their house in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Although they both had work Monday we couldn't go to bed until after 3 a.m.
I enjoy another warm shower Monday morning before Shaloy & I start the 10 hour drive back to Chattanooga. We enjoyed holding hands and having nobody else to talk with. We didn't even care when we took a wrong road and added an extra 2 hours to the trip. I was only gone 8 weeks. It was busy and exciting and new for me but for Shaloy it was just a long slog of having to do her work and mine as well. We both agree that it's too long to be apart.

Going Home via London

Once I gave my goodbyes to Saidi, Betty & Abdhula I had a brief wait before being allowed through security. After Rwanda Air Authority x-ray scanned my two black trunks, looked in one of them and stickered them cleared, I duct taped them shut with the last of my roll of black tape. (the tape was still intact when I arrived home). Of course I was overweight on one of the trunks and had to pay extra. I'm carrying one bag about the size of a purse, my backpack (with all the clothes I need for the next four days, my pillow and the wire moto.

Inside, I've got a couple of hours before departure. In the lounge area I meet a group of Indian military officers. They are on their way home for a few weeks of leave. They've been assigned to the United Nations peace keeping force in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A very nice group of men who offer to share their lunch (I decline because I'm still stuffed from KBC). It's a delight to be able to visit with them about their observations concerning DRC and mine in Rwanda. Individually and as a group they are the kind of guys with whom I could become instant friends. They like the wire moto.

The Ethiopian Air flight is on time and we walk across the tarmac and up the stairs. First class enters through the front set of stairs, economy through the rear. The plane looks new and I've lucked out and gotten the seat by the emergency exit (lots of leg room) and the man assigned to the seat next to me decides to move to an empty row further back. There is a movie screen that shows our current location and flight information. I'm reminded just how small Rwanda is , , , in less than 45 minutes we've left Kigali (in the center of the country) and we're out of the country. The meal was delicious and soon we arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I've got a 3 hour wait and take the time to get a accommodation reservations for London using hostelworld.com . I find a Queen Victoria hostel which has good reviews except for the location which is "Superbly located only 20 minutes from the world's most famous and historical bridge 'LONDON BRIDGE'". It's okay by me especially since I can't find anything else that's available for a price I'm willing to pay on a Saturday night. I book the reservation and write out the information as there is no printer. As I wander around with my two bags and moto, I find a cafe selling tiny cups of coffee and giving away popcorn. I'm not interested in the coffee but as I sit I see they have a juicer and I can get fresh squeezed orange juice @ $1 US per large glass. I'm on my 3rd glass when a couple of the Indian military guys join me. They want the coffee and had some from this place on their way in to DRC. They claim it is pure nitroglycerin, super charged. I'm not surprised to find that one of the doctors is a psychiatrist. Some of the things that the UN peacekeepers are forced to do (or not allowed to do) as part of their "Mandate" would really be disturbing to rational people. Things like: burying your left over food so that no one gets it and starts a riot (and then allowing the little boys to slip in at night to dig through the dirt down to where the food is).

At a bit before midnight we are allowed through security. Even though I have my boarding pass I have to go to the counter and get a special sticker. What's happened is that there are enough seats but many of us are assigned to the same seats and have to be re-assigned. Down to waiting buses that take us across the tarmac, out to the plane to climb the stairs. I'm at the back of the line and get a few minutes to enjoy the cool night air. The flight is good, stewardesses accommodating, food is great, plane is clean and new, I'm holding the moto in my lap, electronics all work and my digestive system chooses to have bout #2 of purging. I should have just switched with the man in the aisle seat next to me. He didn't get his full nights sleep as he was large and would have to get up to let me out of my window seat. My anti-diarrhea meds are in my trunks. Just after the sun comes up we arrive in Rome and the plane loses 2/3rds of the passengers while it picks up some fuel. A couple of hours later we're landing @ Heathrow.

I expected that as soon as I arrived in London I'd be able to understand all of the conversations but London is a cosmopolitan city and Heathrow a major international airport. I'm still hearing many tongues I'm not able to decipher. It's pretty quick through customs and I've got my trunks. I spend a couple of hours exploring my options with my 110 pounds of luggage. I end up using the obvious solution of storing them with Excess Baggage. As I'm getting ready to leave I realize I've almost forgotten the moto sitting on the counter.

Down to the "tube" I start the 1.5 hour trip into London. Someone in Kigali had told me to get an "Oyster Pass" and the helpful worker down in the Tube area confirmed I'd get the best rates and have the easiest time of traveling if I used the pass. I have to remind myself repeatedly that although I'm on a grand adventure the people around me are doing their everyday lives. The moto gets quite a few looks as it is quite unique. I have to change once to get to the London Bridge station where I'm to board a train which is to get me to Woolwhich/Arsenal.

It takes a while but soon I'm on the platform and 15 minutes later I'm leaving central London and on my way to my accommodations. Twenty five minutes and I'm off the station and walking through the suburb of Woolwhich. Five minutes later I'm standing outside the Hostel but the doors are all locked. I can see that the upper floor windows are all open so I stand on the street hollering "Hallooo" until a head pops out and says they'll let me in to wait for the proprietor. It's taken almost 3 hours to get here from Heathrow. The owner wants to know about the moto.

I'm given fresh linen for my bed but there are no towels provided. Once in my room I find that the bottom of one of the four sets of bunk beds doesn't have a backpack on it so I assume it's the one I'm supposed to sleep in tonight. My seven roommates are no where to be found. I stash the moto under my pillow and sort through my stuff. I've got no shampoo and head down the street to purchase some and get some food. Once back at the hostel I find the shower and all the warm water I care to enjoy (I could really get used to warm showers). It's 3 pm and I'm clean, I've made my bed I'm full and I want to see London.

Back to the train station where I enjoy the 25 minute ride back into London. At London Bridge I get off to explore the River Thames. I recognize some of the sights and although the area is packed with pale skinned people I hear only a few conversations that I can understand (lots of French, German and a smattering of Asian dialects). Lots of couples holding hands and getting their pictures taken in front of the sights and I'm suddenly very homesick for Shaloy's company. She is spending the weekend with our daughter who lives near Chicago and will be at her family re-union in Midland, Michigan tomorrow. Wander to the Tower bridge, wander to the castle, wander to some of the modern architectures and get some pictures, wander to the memorial to merchant marines who've been lost @ sea. As evening approaches the streets are filling more with couples and groups of friends. I get some food and find an Internet cafe. A search for Irish music and I find a place that has music in the room upstairs from a pub every Saturday night. I get directions and catch an evening bus in the right direction. I'm able to find my location on the map and walk to the pub. It's at the end of a dark street in an area I'd call "Little India" based on the number of hole in the wall Indian restaurants. The streets smelled of curry. As I approach the address an alarm starts to go off. The pub is dark and there is no on around. The alarm is coming from the business next door whose plate glass window was recently shattered by a heavy object. I can hear sirens approaching and decide to stroll away as the London police arrive to investigate. By now it's after 9:30 and I decide to go to the hostel. I'm starting to consider catching an early flight home.

My main issue is that Woolwhich/Arsenal is so far out that it is not on any of the maps that I have or find. I head in the general direction of Southeast London by train. At the end of the line I ask which street bus to take and I'm directed to the bus station down the street. Down the street is a 25 minute walk. The driver suggest I take bus #40, , , , , no bus #38 , , , , no actually you can take my bus to , , , , no , , , really you should walk back to the street and take bus #45 and let the driver know where you want to go and he'll tell you which connector will get you there. Back to the street I see the bus but it won't stop except at a bus stop. I follow it down the street and come to a corner where pedestrians are not allowed to cross. Instead of crossing, I enter a well lit "pedestrian subway" which takes me under the street (to avoid mixing vehicles and pedestrians) but under the street there are 5 options of tunnels. I take my best guess but when I pop up on a street I don't recognize it as being the opposite side of the street I entered. Now I'm really turned around and start to ask directions but the only guy I can find is from Brazil, is also lost and has been looking for the Chinese restaurant and his friends for the past hour (Do I have a cell phone I can lend as his is now dead?). I eventually find a parked bus and ask the driver who tells me to take bus #30 across the river and the driver will tell me where to get the connection. However, he doesn't know which stop #30 will stop at but there are lots of bus stops around the corner and just look at each one until I find one that says #30. I don't find #30 but do find the tube and decide that at least on the tube I can navigate back to London Bridge and catch the train home.

I arrive @ London Bridge station and the first thing I hear over the public address system in the tubes is "Last car on North Line is leaving in 2 minutes!" Great!#$! the tube is closing for the evening. Lucky for me I'm not riding the tube anymore, I'm catching a train. Up the stairs and I quickly see that the entrance to the trains is dark, quiet and obviously has been closed for a while. I'm not in despair as I know there is a system of night buses but which one?? Woolwwich Arsenal is off all the bus maps in central London. I decide #48 will get me in the general direction but where is a bus stop for that bus?? I see the bus and where it stops and dash the two blocks to jump on. "Yes, , , If I ride this bus to where #53 crosses I can get a bus to Woolwhich" It's now well after midnight and the ride takes almost an hour until we reach the crossing where I switch. We've picked up and dropped off many of the revellers who stagger onto and off the bus. They are loud, obnoxious and uncoordinated but they seem to find their way. Thirty five minutes later I recognize that we've just passed the hostel, ask to be let off and walk the few minutes back up the street.

It's close to 2 am and I'm happy to find my bed as I left it. Only four other sleeping bodies are occupying bunks. I assume the rest are the young people I passed on the way to my room. I'm done with London. In the morning I'll take a shower, grab my moto and head to Heathrow first thing and standby until I can catch a flight home.

Link to all of my London Pictures

Monday, June 30, 2008

Last few hours wrapping it up

There is no water when I get up but it comes on for an hour while getting ready (but only a dribble so I still take a bucket shower). All I have left in the cubboard are two petite bananas, some Nutella, an avocado and a bag of salt, some green olives in the fridge.

I'm out the door, on a moto with my backpack to KHI. I've got educational materials to drop off in the office, my final report to give to the Rector and some ties I'll give the the faculty later today. A quick walk downtown to work through my shopping list. A friend back home has asked me to pick up a pharmaceutical that he uses while I'm here. It's much less expensive (Terry warns me about using foreign drugs from a foreign country but my friend is aware and the drug is not illegal). Also, I'm looking for some oil that is appropriate for the barber clippers I've purchased for Mpore Orphanage as well as a spray bottle that can be filled with chlorine mix for disinfecting the clippers.

Next a moto to a consortium of shops I've passed many times but have never stopped at. There are about 45 shop keepers with the average stall about 10 x 10 feet. They are packed with art objects and tourist items that vary only slightly from shop to shop. Each owner wants me to make an offer on whatever thing I've shown an interest. But I'm resolute. I'll look in every shop making a mental note of things I'm in which I'm actually interested. I'm really only looking for those items that really strike me as unique in quality, price or style. The one thing I've really coveted is a very large mask in the shop under the post office in town. But it's $100 US and is too large to fit into either of my trunks. Shipping is possible but would at at least $100 more. I compare every large mask to the one I've set my heart on and none match up. I'll end up leaving Rwanda with only small masks.

After going into every store/shop I've found an African game that is better in quality than any I've seen elsewhere with a good price but I've already made arrangements to buy three from my friend Royce later today. I found some gorgeous scarves and I head back to barter. The price starts @ 5,000 FRw and won't budge , , , even when I offer to buy 4. I thank her and walk next door where they are similar with similar results 5,000 FRw, , take it or leave it. I left it. I know that Royce has a rack of scarves and though I've not looked closely at them, if I'm to pay full price I'll give the business to Royce. I found a moto about a foot long and 8 inches tall crafted from thick wire with the various parts wrapped in different colored banana leaves. It is quite unique and the wheels rotate. We start @ 5,000 FRw but it's in my hand as I leave for 2,500 FRw. Finally a piece for my work desk. Two carved hands holding a carved map of Rwanda. Each of the districts are outlined. I've seen a hundred of these but most of them add a clumsy etching of the key features for each district (a guerrilla in Nord district, a giraffe in Est District etc.) This one leaves those off and is much cleaner in appearance. The shop keeper started @ 10,000 but I'm getting on the moto having only spent 5,000 FRw ($10 US).

Back in town I visit Royce. She was not able to get the three games I'd ordered but her niece in the stall next door has two (and I pay less than I'd promised to pay Royce). Royce does have the scarves and they are as nice as the others. She wants 3,000 FRw and I get three. There is a reason for my soft spot for Royce. She is in her 50's and speaks excellent English. She translated a few weeks ago when I was being taught how to play the African game. Additionally, a few days ago I was shopping for a dress for Shaloy. Royce didn't have what I wanted so the two of us walked into town and went to 5 different shops. I'd say "This one is a nice material but wrong style" then next shop "Right color but wrong material" then as we passed someone on the street. "That style is good and I like the amount of embroidery but wrong color". We kept getting closer and closer to what I wanted for Shaloy until we found it. Then Royce bartered until I got the dress for less than 1/2 what I was planning to pay (which was half of where we started in muzungu prices).

Loaded with my purchases, I catch a moto back to the guest house and another moto to KBC (my new favorite) for lunch. After eating, a bus is waiting at the stop and only 1/4 full. a quick ride into town and another moto to KHI. The East Africa Summit is in full swing at the Serena and all roads are barricaded within 6 blocks which includes the normal routes to the school. I'm there 15 minutes early for our 3:00 pm "going away event". I've brought my 6 favorite ties to Rwanda and I give away all but my very favorite. They are in excellent condition and you'd have thought I picked them for each person as they matched their outfits perfectly. I did insist on showing them how to tie the ties in the current U.S. fashion (extending down so it just hits the belt). The current Kigali trend is a huge knot that leaves the tie only extending halfway down the shirt (which looks fine when sitting but a bit odd when standing). For Matilda I let her choose a scarf (She has excellent taste and picks the one I had intended for Shaloy so I'll have one quick piece of shopping in the a.m.).

We walk to Karibu and find a table off to the side by ourselves. It's a lovely time to speak kind words to each other and enjoy each other's company. Four of our party are bachelors and we have a grand time talking about marriage, it's attributes, the perfect wife and the perfect time in life to get hitched. I'm given a nice shirt (although I don't know where they found a 2xl in Rwanda) and a "Thank You" shadow box with the Rwanda basket. After an hour the waiter tells us it's time to wash our hands (a new one on me) so I comply. John has ordered a fish for every two of us and a plate of chips (French Fries) and salad for each of us. The fish has been cut in two to the spine but is till connected and has been fried on both sides (sort of looks like a huge fried butterfly fish). I'm waiting for the silverware but the others are not. I wasn't fazed to see people eating the fries with their fingers but was startled when John started eating the fish sans silver. The salad (a type of cole slaw) was a bit harder to take. I just let my mind wander back to how I might have eaten at 2 years old and dug in. The fork, knife and spoon where missing on purpose and were never delivered. After eating we went and washed our hands again. It certainly adds another sense to the act of eating.

It's 5:00 pm and time to scatter to each person's next thing. Hugs and goodbyes and confirmation of schedules. Benard is catching a bus to Nairobi @ 5:00 AM, Patrick is flying to Nairobi later in the morning. Patrick & Benard are disappointed to not have had the last lecture and ask if they can come over this evening after supper to receive it. John is going to accompany me to the Airport @ 1:30 Friday. I call Terry who is coming back from Butare and I catch a ride home with him.

When we arrive at the house there has been no water all day and none is promised for this evening. I'm sad to say I "lose it" with Philbert who has known all day but not gotten any back up plans. There isn't any water to flush the stools, drink or cook with. It's all gone and what we had in the reservoir was used today to clean the sidewalks and do laundry. I insist that even though it's past 6:00 pm he Bosco and have enough delivered so we can have water to boil for drinking and to flush the toilets. After the call he's non-commital as to when/if it'll arrive. He used my phone to call so we call right back and I speak with Bosco insisting that they deliver water tonight. I walk with Terry to Africa Bite. I'm still full of fish but enjoy an African Tea while he eats brochettes.

When we arrive back at the house there is water in buckets to get us through the night. Terry had piled up the materials he'll take to the new guest house in the morning. We are both quite surprised to find Philbert agitated about what was being claimed as property of the Canadian Anesthesiologists. There is a long, loud and heated discussion about what belongs to whom. It's not my fight though & I retreat else I may find myself exploding. Terry will certainly capable to sort it out in some fashion. Patrick and Benard arrive around 9:30 pm and we do that last hour of lecture. One more set of hugs and I work some more on packing the last bit of stuff. I'm trying to leave or sell anything I can replace in the U.S. so I give some clothes and sell my cell phone, computer camera and two jump drives to Dubali.

Friday morning the mood is not much better in the house. Terry and I catch a ride with the CHK driver to the new guest house to deliver the stuff. We can only get into the kitchen as the rest of the house is locked up tight and only "Claire" has a key. Off to CHK to leave a computer and cell phone for the Canadian Anesthesiologist with the local coordinator (Terry is not being replaced for two months so there is no other secure place to leave the two most valuable items) Back to KHI to find "Claire" and Abdhul. Back to the new guest house with a key and now we can properly lock Terry's stuff into the cupboards of the suite assigned to the anesthesiologists.

On to Mpore to deliver the clippers and give instruction on their use, cleaning, oiling and disinfecting. We stop at a store to get some bleach and I'm astounded to pay 7,000 FRw ($14 US) for 2 liters. I'm so amazed I ask Terry to come in and make sure I've not misunderstood but the man insists 7,000 FRw. Gotta have and no time to comparison shop. On to Mpore. They are delighted to receive the electric clippers and promise no more loose razor blades for cutting hair. I leave my triple head razor and a pack of blades as well. We spend 45 minutes and 5 hair cuts are given by three different people and we're very comfortable that they know how to use them and will oil them, "2 drops after each head". We visit for a little with the lady who runs the orphanage and I'll share the contact information if you feel inclined to help directly with a place that could really use some assistance.

On the way home we pass the Consortium. I run walk in and buy the game that I'd spotted yesterday and the scarf (at full price) for Shaloy. Back to the house to pack for an hour and then lunch @ KBC and it's time to go. Saidi and Betty have come to ride with me to the airport. John is late and a call to KHI finds he hasn't left yet. Shake hands goodbye with Philbert and safe journey goodbye to Terry. Another call to John to let him know we're going and it's off to the Airport.

Yesterday, when there was still a bit of time I almost got emotional about leaving my new friends. Now when there is only a few minutes left, I'm too excited to be on my home to cry now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kibilizi - The last official work

This is my last official work for the trip. I'm to visit Dr. UYISABYE Innocent @ Kibilizi Hospital which I've been told is about ten minutes outside of Butare. It's Wednesday and I've been looking forward to a repeat buffet @ the Serena hotel one last time before leaving. So when I get my ticket I get a 7:00 am departure which means leaving Kimihurura @ 6:30. It's not an issue of getting up early though as I'm back into that cycle of tired early in the evening so that I'm going to bed early and then waking up @ 3:00.

I haven't given myself much margin today and the bus pulls out just a few minutes after I arrive. We've only 5 passengers but I'm relatively sure we'll stop at the lower station on the way out of town. We load up but don't fill the jump seats. I'm getting low on Rwanda money and I don't know where I'll find a Forex in Butare. So when I see one right by the bus station I take a chance and run inside. There is another customer in the booth next to mine and I'm a bit surprised by his greeting. In perfect English with little accent "Good Morning Muzungu." Since the man was obviously well spoken I asked him a question which surprised him "Then is it okay for me to respond with Good morning African or Good morning Rwandan?" He was quick to try to tell me that the term isn't derogatory but I think it made him think. No time to discuss the semantics any further so I dash back to the bus and reclaim my seat before I get left.

On the ride I find myself staring at the country side and think to myself "you're here for the people not the scenery" and I look back through the bus at my fellow passengers. The Rwandese are a beautiful people and I feel quite comfortable in their midst. I no longer feel foreign even though I'm reminded daily when I'm called a Muzungu. A young man comes up and puts the jump seat down beside me. He wants to visit in English for practice. During the conversation I learn that he is going to visit his home but not his family. They were killed fourteen years ago and he grew up with people he's going to visit in Giterama (about halfway between Kigali and Butare). Now he lives in Kigali and works in the textile industry. He wants to know if I'd like to have him as a son. I don't know what to say and act as though I can't understand what he's saying until he decides to change the subject. I guess it's a self defense thing.

Once I get to Butare I ask about a moto to Kibilizi and when the first driver quotes 3,000 FRw I start to wonder about the ten minute business. So I go inside to ask the Atraco man what a reasonable rate should be. He misunderstands and quotes "20,000 to Kibilizi". He thinks I want to hire a taxi but even a taxi shouldn't run $40 U.S. for a ten minute ride. Once he understands I want a moto he says 2,000 is about right. Back outside the moto driver quotes 2,000 so I'm on and we're going. South through town, out of town then left on a gravel road that turns to a dirt road and through the country side. I later see a sign and the village of Kibilizi is 11 Km from Butare (thus the 10 minute thing) but it takes about 25 minutes to get there from Atraco.

Kibilizi meets all of the things that my mind sees when I use the term village. We pass through to the far side and here is a lovely looking facility. Pay the man, walk into the courtyard and call the good doctor. "Hallo, Hallo, yes Doctor Innocent, yesss this is Leif Penrose the echography instructor, , , yesss where am I?? I am in the courtyard of your hospital, , , yes and you are where??? I see , , , , Kigali!! Eh? Eh? Okay they are expecting me and go find the radiographer, , yes, , ,yes thank you." As I walk to the hospital buildings and a man who appears to be a physician another young man in a lab coat comes to me. Doctor Innocent has called the Radiographer Emma and the physician is Dr. Guillain Luesso (I don't know which is his first name). They take me to the ultrasound room and we flick on the light which decides not to cooperate. On, off, on, off, off, on a bit, off, flash on, off, on, off. It's a good thing I'm not prone to seizures...

I let the doctor know I'll need some time to get to know the ultrasound unit maybe twenty minutes, , and He leaves to see patients. A trip to the loo and then to meet the hospital administrator. Emma warns me that the staff speak primarily French and to please speak slowly. Back in the echography room the light has decided to behave. The machine is a Pie unit with a 3.5 MHz curvilinear and has a 5 MHz Transvaginal transducer. I sit down to become acquainted when another doc pops his head in for introduction. I let him know I'll need some time to figure out the system but in twenty minutes or so I'll be ready to do an inservice. Back to the buttons at least it's in English when doctor #3 pops his head in for introduction. I let him know I'll need some time to figure out the system but in twenty minutes I'll be ready. Okay how to do the left/right switch, okay where's the Obstetrical package when doctor #4 pops his head in for introduction. I let him know I'll need some time to figure out the system but in twenty minutes I'll be ready. Back to the Obstetrical package when Dr. Guillain pops back in. It's been twenty minutes but with each new doctor I've had to introduce myself and explain that I'll need a few minutes so that I've really only spent about 5 minutes total so far in between introductions. Emma shuts the door and runs interference for me. There are 7 doctors at this hospital which is around 2 years old. I think they are all here except the doctor who invited me. The unit is pretty straight forward and I'm soon ready. The room is very, very small and it's difficult to get more than three people around the unit but there are 4 doctors and myself plus Emma trying to see. We crowd in African style.

The doctors are anxious to learn but it's quickly apparent that they don't have a base knowledge of sonography. I switch gears and terminology to my beginners talk. I decide that I'll make sure Emma knows the buttons before I leave and perhaps he can help when they use the machine. I'm told the printer doesn't work but it's a simple fix of showing them the right side up of the paper. I asked repeatedly for the manual and get a consistent answer of "they took it back with them after they delivered the machine" Even with repeated questioning, I'm not able to figure out who they are, why they wouldn't leave a user manual or where they would have taken it. The physicians are happy to learn about the obstetrical package and I show them how to print a report. We scan a few volunteers but there are no patients who have pathology they want to examine. Repeatedly, , I'm told they do only obstetrical and no GYN or abdominal work. The time flies and I realize we're past 1:00 pm. I've made Emma miss lunch (though the doctors have periodically slipped out) and the interest has wained visibly as it's just Emma, Dr. Guillain and I left (no more volunteers and no patients). It's thank yous and goodbyes and Emma will walk me to where I can catch a moto.

Out the front gate I find a sight I've been hoping to catch during my stay. I've told Terry I'd be willing to pay to get a pictures of a boy with his stick and circle playing. There are a lots of variations but I've seen the sight many times. The circle is sometimes an old, small bicycle tire, sometimes a rim of plastic, sometimes a wooden circle. The stick is sometimes just a stick, sometimes the stick is attached to the circle with a string so that the child pulls up on the back and let's it roll on the front half of the cycle. Sometimes the stick has a stiff wire on the end that can be used to "hook" the circle. I've tried to catch the image riding past on a bus and have seen in it in crowded situations when I didn't feel comfortable but today I have just one boy and his smaller playmate, on an empty street, and I'm with a man who can tell the boy I'd like to take his picture while he plays and in return I'll give him a coin. Well the boy is certainly delighted. I get my pictures, the boy gets the coin and there is no mob to mob me afterwards. Off to find a moto.

The station where we wait has 4 others who are also waiting. There are a couple of Rwandan police officers who are checking the driving permits of the cars that cross this dusty country intersection. A UN vehicle goes by and is flagged down. After Emma explains I need a ride into Butare they refuse and drive off. The Africans are incredulous that they won't give the Muzungu a ride. Thirty minutes of waiting and not a single moto in sight and matatas which are heading in the opposite directions and I ask if it's okay to walk. No I can not walk, , I ask if they don't walk me to walk or I'm not allowed? They will call me a taxi, , , No a taxi will be expensive, , , mes but may I walk, , , yes but you don't want to because it's a far distance, , , , yes but may I walk (It's a beautiful day, the road has not turn offs or branches and I'd rather walk and flag a passing matata than stand here just waiting. The Africans are again incredulous as I thank Emma, shake his hand and start down the dirt road to Butare. As I leave Emma is explaining to the police officers and he heads back to the hospital.

The road is nice and at least half of it is down hill. The weather is in the low 70's and there are sky has a few clouds. The sign says 11Km but I'm pretty sure I'll not have to walk it all. I'm never alone as there is a constant presence of some adult walking somewhere or some child who wants to see the Muzungu. I don't even break a sweat until about the 4th Kilometer when the road starts uphill and the tress aren't shading the road. About an hour into the walk a small pickup stops and gives me a ride the last ways into town. A lovely man who has also given a ride to a man (riding in the back) and a woman who I saw earlier waiting for a moto (riding in the front). I'd like to get to Butare in time to catch a bus in order to get back to eat at the Serena tonight. I'm back @ Atraco by 3:15 and get a ticket for the 3:45 bus.
Off to the grocery store to get a drink and sambosa then back to wait for departure. I'm surprised when the man tells me it's time to board as the only vehicle is a Hiace van & I thought the expresses all used a full size bus. I soon realize that the expresses do all use a full size bus and I've gotten onto the local to Kigali. It's all good in that we'll be back before Serena starts the buffet @ 7:00 and I get to enjoy the local people one more time up close and personal instead of whizzing past the bus stops @ 60 Km per hour. Thirty five stops and 3 hours later we pull into town. The only other person who was originally in the van in Butare is the van driver. At times we've only had 5 people and other times we've been max filled. It's all good because tonight we're eating at the Serena.

I called Terry who is having soft drinks with the anesthesia residents in town. I meet them and we visit for about 45 minutes until it's time to excuse ourselves and walk to Serena. Walking down the street we wonder where the East African Summit on Economic Development which begins tomorrow is meeting. Six blocks from dinner we find out. . . . . . When an officer with a machine gun wants to know our destination. . . . We politely tell him we are going to the Serena, , , , He wants to see our badges and is not satisfied with my drivers license.... The Serena is closed to the public, , , the conference has already had dignitaries arriving (we see a motorcade go by in the distance) and you may not proceed further down this street unless you have proper papers, badge and documentation. There is no arguing with a military officer who's packing heat.

At this point none of the regular places we know have any appeal. We decide to try a third Indian restaurant that Terry has spied. Ten minutes later we're in and have ordered. Serena will just have to be a fond memory.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kibagabaga - Monday and Tuesday

My last week in Rwanda. I've got two more hospitals to visit. Kibagabaga Monday morning is a suburb of Kigali and Kibilizi on Wednesday is supposed to by close to Butare.

I'm scheduled to visit Dr. Gatsinda @ 9:00 am until noon Monday. I'm able to leave the house @ 8:30 catch the matata to Kimironko market then a moped sized moto out to Kibagabaga hospital and I'm at the gate right @ 9:00 am. This is a lovely new facility, just a couple of years old. beautifully landscaped with modern style doors, rooms, fixtures and equipment. We head to the "Echography" room and I meet Dr. Benard who is introduced as the gynecologist.

The ultrasound unit is a French Kontron Sigma 330. I'm not surprised to have never heard of it. Of the dozen ultrasound units I've seen in Rwanda I've not seen two by the same manufacturer. This one adds an additional challenge in that all of the buttons, soft keys, user's manual are in French. The nomenclature for the abbreviations is also a bit foreign: Biparietal Diameter which we abbreviate BPD is "BIP" and Head Circumference is "CP" (Circumference Parietal). The unit has Doppler and Color Doppler but only a single curvilinear transducer and no printer. I'm able to show how to use the obstetrical calculations package and to retrieve the report. Up to this point each time they did a measurement they'd write the values on a piece of paper which would later be transferred to the referral slip. An inexpensive thermal printer and they could print the entire obstetrical report including ratios, estimated date of delivery based on averages and each of the measurements with associated plus minus ranges.

We scanned 4 near term obstetrical patients in a row. On all 4, head measurements came out about 4 weeks younger than the rest of the measurements and last menstrual period dates. The calipers are measuring correctly but the associated dates added to the calculations is incorrect which skews the expected date of delivery and estimated fetal weight. One of the Doctors confirms that it's pretty routine that the babies are bigger than expected based on the ultrasound measurements. I've got another appointment to teach the Anesthesiology residents about ultrasound guided vascular access so I can't stay longer but asked to borrow the manual and return tomorrow (Tuesday) with an answer. I'm pretty sure that there are a number of options in the calculations package and if I can find the right sequence of button pushing I should be able to get into the system setup and see which has been chosen and then reset it for a more appropriate one.

Throughout the time I'm here Dr. Benard is in and out but we're joined another Dr. who also attended the Physician's conference and a couple of other doctors who are interested in learning more about their machine. Then Dr. Gatsinda brings in a a couple of Americans. Dr. Hal Goldberg is a Cardiologist here with a team of physicians, ancillary staff and other volunteers who are working with the docs @ Kibagabaga hospital. I get an invitation to supper and ask that Terry can join us as well. They've brought their own ultrasound unit a portable GE unit (although the Kontron unit has a cardiac calculation package there is not a cardiac transducer).

No wild and crazy findings today, but I've got to split @ 12:00 to make my next appointment. In all of the hospitals, the docs I've worked with are on duty and have their normal case load plus the time they are trying to spend with me. Three or four hours is really the max that they can carve out of their packed schedules in one day. Dr. Gatsinda takes me to meet the Medical Director and gets me a ride back to town in the ambulance. I'll try to get a picture of one of the ambulances for my Paramedic friend Randy Pierson.

That night, I find that only the first half of the manual is in French. Sections 5 - 8, which have the calculation tables information, is in English. I'm pretty sure that the tables can be changed and I've got a good idea how, but it'll still take a bit of playing to get the right sequence.

The ambulance drops me @ Kigali Business Center "KBC" where I'm to meet Dr. Terry Loughnan and his Anesthesiology residents for lunch. Afterwards we'll walk to King Faisal hospital where I've made arrangements with Seth to use the ultrasound unit for a couple of hours. Terry has found this "hole in the wall" lunch buffet restaurant. He has repeatedly mentioned the quality of the meal and afterwards I agree that it's a real jewel of a place were a meal and fruit juice is $3.60 U.S.. The place is packed and you can choose to stand and eat or sit at a table with strangers (which actually doesn't seem very strange at all in Rwanda).

When these five residents graduate and join the Rwanda health care system there will be 16 Anesthesiologists in the country. Currently, full anesthesia is only administered @ CHK, King Faisal and the hospital in Butare. Dr. Loughnan has an interest and a lot of experience in ultrasound guided access to jugular line placements as well as upper extremity nerve blocks. Today we're showing the possibilities (not training for competency). This two hours session is very low stress for me and the residents are obviously intelligent and anxious to learn how they might use this tool. As a bonus, I get to see my friends @ King Faisal again.

Terry & I catch a ride to mumunge, swing by a forex, search out a place to by hair clippers and then realize that the restaurant where we're meeting the American team is back in Remera and not in town. Down to the matatas but we're here @ rush time and the scene is close to anarchy. For this trip we can take a Remera bus but are unsure how close to our destination we'll get (as we've never taken that route before) and don't want to get stuck walking a couple of Km. The more sure option is a Kimironko bus but we can't find one. As we ask the drivers and bus porters they keep pointing to the one ahead. Terry later says that the pointing doesn't actually mean the one ahead but rather "not me, , , , but you might try the one ahead, , , , it might be". The taxi to Chez Lando will be expensive from here and we know the matatas and just keep trying. The crowd of individuals who are also looking for a Kimironko bus keeps growing in size and tension.

After 15 minutes, I spy one of the Hiace vans rolling in with a sign that says Kimironko. Hopeful riders grab the open windows as it slowly cruises in. They are running along side to ensure a seat when the slider opens. The driver purposely pulls in so close to a parked bus that it effectively skims off all of the folks hanging onto to the side. I'm able to obtain a spot in the qeue near the back of the bus but it's a pure melee to enter as there is another merging qeue at the front also trying to get into the sliding door. The attendant is trying to block a path so the current riders can get out but that effort fails and 4 people get stranded in the back until the attendant gets the word and redoubles his effort to finally get them out. In the midst of the scrum an old woman says "Pardon" in French as she hits me with her elbow to try and gain advantage. (Terry later tells me I shouldn't feel special as she had already elbowed him as well). Teenage school girls duck their heads and try to go under the outstretched arms and when they get their bodies in the flow are basically swept into the van. The woman in front of me hopes to secure a seat by passing her bag in through the window to hold a seat. When I last saw her, the doors where shut and she was standing outside (Terry thinks the bag was passed back out the window but I didn't see it happen). I'm pretty sure I could have found a spot but there was no way that Terry would have made it so I bailed out of the line (to the delight of the old woman who was able to weedle past the woman in front of me who was smaller). We decide it may be time to grab a taxi.
I snuck this video Sunday. It's not a melee, but captures a bit of the atmosphere of a slow day.

Supper with the folks from Spokane @ Chez Lando. The group is on their first trip and are trying to figure out the system and the opportunities for service. They are a pretty sharp group of people with a Neonatologist, Cardiologist, G.I. Oncological Surgeon, Psychologist, Medical Oncologist and accompanying staff members plus some family. Logistics and some of the prepratorial details have them with some questions and they hope we might be able to share some insights. Gradually more and more of the team arrives but by 9:00 we're both tired and excuse ourselves. They insisted on paying for our meal and we caught a taxi to Kimihurura.

Tuesday morning I say goodbye to Dr. Konn who is flying out this morning. I reviewed the Kontron manual again, send the company an e-mail asking for an electronic version in English and head back to the hospital. In fifteen minutes I've got the unit calculating using Hadlock's tables and I'm on my way back for lectures @ KHI. I run into Benard & Patrick in town and we walked together back to the KIST canteen. Dr. Konn has had ticket problems and was forced to buy a new ticket on the spot for the flight from Kigali to Kenya. She had been issued a paper ticket but only had the boarding pass and they wouldn't let her on without both. After lunch there are issues about time and not having a room available when we were scheduled to begin. Today was originally scheduled as a day off so I could wrap things up but I've added the trip to Kibagabaga and the lecture so the pressure is mounting. If the lecture isn't high enough on the priority list to have a room I decide I must have been mistaken about how much it was desired. It's already past time to start and no room, so I cancelled and went to try and cash the re-imbursement checks (which I've been warned repeatedly must be cashed before leaving the country). It ends up only taking 45 minutes to convince the National Bank Rwanda to cash my two checks.

On to get a few more presents and then back to the house where I'm meeting Said for supper. I chilled out for about 45 minutes playing my autoharp when Patrick & Benard arrive. Soon Said gets here and the group of 5 all decide to eat together @ the Chinese restaurant. We spent quite a bit of time discussing the advantages and disadvantages of marriage. Terry takes the tack that the three of them should wait and not hurry. I take the tack that life is too short not to have a best friend to share it with. The whole thing is a bit mute though, as none of them has anyone they are even dating. (though I've repeatedly pointed out that the cashier girl @ KIST canteen really blossoms every time she sees Patrick)

Things are starting to wind down.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gisenyi - Lake Kivu full posting

Thursday evening I purchased tickets for Terry & I to travel to Gisenyi leaving Kigali @ 1:00 pm. I'm getting the travel arrangements and Terry is getting the lodging. We'll be there Friday afternoon/evening and return Sunday Afternoon.

Friday morning's lecture go well but I didn't finish the obstetrical section before it's time to leave. We agree that I'll come back Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 and finish the last lecture. At tea time I had a bowl of the banana stew. I know I won't have time for lunch as I hurry from KHI to the bus station and I didn't eat breakfast before leaving. Even though I know the shape and color is banana, it still tastes like boiled potatoes to me.

When I get to the bus station, Terry is waiting and the bus is just loading. We are able to get two window seats in adjacent rows but this vehicle has jump seats and we get the feeling we'll be crammed in. At least we each have control of the air flow. Life is looking good as we leave the main station in Mumunge as our window rows have only one seat and then the aisle. None of the jump seats were being used and there were a couple of other empty seats as well. On the other side of the aisle is a large woman who has brought quite a bit of luggage that is in the aisle area up front. On the way out of town I commented to Terry how glad I was that we didn't have to stop and catch the bus at the lower station on the way out of town (Large, dusty, dirty and confusing). He asked me to point it out but there wasn't a need because we turned in to pick up the rest of the passengers.

From the get go there seemed too many onboarding passengers for the remaining seats. About a dozen people wanted to get on and 5 of them were white girls with huge backpacks. It may have seemed as though there were more because there were bus company staff assisting the girls. The where able to get two of the backpacks in the cargo area but the other three had to come inside. The jump seats started going down as they entered but the large woman next to me is insisting that the white girl can't sit next to her and she won't let the jump seat but put down. She waves an extra ticket and we assume she's bought two so she doesn't have to sit next to someone. The loading process grinds to a halt because no one seems to understand why the dumb Muzunga won't take the seat. Many encourage her to take it any way and in her confusion she attempts but the woman firmly places her hand on the girls butt as she tries to sit and pushes her back up (to which the girl gets loud and irate about being touched in that location). The bus staff are telling her to sit back down and we finally help him to comprehend that this woman won't let her sit. Loud and fast paced discussion in Kinirwandan and we find she has a friend coming and she's trying to hold the seat for her. Five minutes of tense waiting with lots of loud words when an equally large woman arrives and is let through to cram into the jump seat and overflow onto mine. Everyone tries to takes a seat when they realize they've oversold the bus and a very unhappy man is forced off by the company. The extra three backpacks and extra luggage of my row mates is blocking the doorway so that every time we stopped to let someone off there is a moving of luggage so the door can be squeezed opened. We depart.

I'm fascinated by the bee hives. They seem to be made of banana leaves woven into a a mat about 5 feet long that is then rolled loosely into a tube. This "Roll" is then placed in the notch of a tree anywhere from 20 to 40 feet up in a tree. Some one would have to climb the tree to place it and then climb the tree to retrieve it. I've not seen many bees but there is so much stuff growing they must be around to keep things pollinated.

The ride seems extra long today. Maybe the one bootleg tape that played through 6 times during the trip, the close quarters with my bulky neighbor. We left @ 1:00 and arrived in Gisenyi around 5:15. We warned the girls that they might have a time finding accommodations as they had not pre-booked and there is supposed to be a big party tomorrow evening after the gorilla naming ceremony. We want to be well situated before dark and decide to take a taxi rather than walk. The driver seems a bit confused but agrees to take us to "Hotel Du Lac". After a couple of minutes he asks us for directions. Terry calls the phone number and hands the phone over so that the hotel and driver can communicate directly in Kinirwandan. The driver then tells us we've got reservations @ the hotel but that our hotel is in Cyangugu 10 hours south on Lake Kivu not in Gisenyi on Lake Kivu. Two hotels, same name, same lake, one still operating the other closed for the past two years. A call to Paradise hotel in Rabona 6 Km south , , , they've got a room for tonight but not tomorrow. We take it but have to raise the cab fare because the hotel is 30 minutes further away on a very rough and beat up road.

The Hotel Paradise is quite lovely and sits right on the lake. Most of the units are small bungalows mimicking the shape of the traditional houses. We end up in a double for $25,000 FRw and split the cost. They start to find us accommodations for the next evening and by supper time have found the house two doors down has rooms, is not occupied except for the house staff and the owners have agreed to let us stay Saturday evening in single rooms for $15,000 FRw each. We can still take our meals and enjoy the grounds of Paradise (though the guest house also is lake front and has beautiful landscaping as well).

Next morning after breakfast and moving our stuff to the guest house we decide to walk the 6Km back to the edge of Gisenyi. The weather is pleasant and we're up for the walk. At the end of the road is a brewery for the local beer. It is at least partially powered by an electricity plant that runs off of methane gas that is emitted from Lake Kivu. We can see the tower of the methane rig about a kilometer off shore but are unable to see the power generation unit as the road is closed and guarded by RDF military with automatic weapons at both ends (which is too bad as the road along the shore used to go to gisenyi, seems in perfect condition, not nearly the elevational rise and fall and would have a lovely view of the lake during it's entire distance). We are accompanied by various groups of urchins who delight in some muzungus to walk. They are persistent in trying to get us to converse and some are very persistent in trying to relieve us of some Faranga (money) by either repeating "Faranga?!?" repeatedly with outstretched hands or using their English with "Give me money". Of course you can't give them money for a number of reasons. First the giving to one could not happen without others seeing which would produce an immediate onslot of demands to give money to each and secondly we don't want to encourage begging as a means/option of supporting yourself. Periodically we hear a cry for "give me pen" which actually would be okay if I had a pen to give, but then again you'd have to have a whole box of pens if you gave just one. We know that Dr. Konn has been here previously and when we returned we jokingly accuse her of encouraging the kids to beg for money (which she firmly denies doing). Then in jest we accuse her of teaching them to beg for pens at which point she looks quite sheepish and admits to doing.
Each group seems to know there boundaries end but as soon as we lose a group we're passed on to the next pack who have heard we're coming by the distant cries of Muzungu and Bonjour. As we get close to town we cross a small Hydroelectric plant. Town is quiet and the streets pretty much empty. The guide books are totally inadequate for information. The Palm Beach Hotel which comes highly recommended appears abandoned as do a number of other establishments. There are a number of places we pass by and have never read about and ones we expect to find that are either absent or under new ownership with new names. We see a huge crowd of people congregating in one spot of the public beach and see that the 5 white girls from the bus yesterday are swimming in bikinis and have attracted probably 1oo male African spectators who want to have a watch. It's annoying but safe for them and we walk on to the border with Congo which is a sister city of Goma DRC but don't enter (we've been told that the return visas would run us $60 US). We're hot and stop to get something cool, wet and sweet. I have to learn another repeat lesson when they charge me $2,000 each for my two lemon Bavarias which are a 0% alcohol malt beverage. But they've already been consumed and though I protest that I paid only $750 yesterday the server simply states that the charge is $4,000 in Gisenyi please. The place was a converted lake home and we had enjoyed the gardens, birds and lizard but it didn't seem nearly as pleasant with $8 of soft drinks.

Before leaving we asked if there was a "Hotel De Lac" and find that it's been renamed and is the next place down the road. We stopped in to see it and decide it looks like a nice place to take a meal. It also is a converted home, with equally nice gardens and we sit under a cabana while we await our meal. Again the birds are exquisite and many lizards are running around. We realize that we're the only guests there and after 1 hour and 20 minutes walk to the kitchen and enquire if the food will eventually be served. The proprietor assures us it is coming now and we rest for another ten minutes when Terry's coffee is brought. Twenty minutes later the food begins to come. Afterwards we can say it was worth the wait but it we'd have simply left had we been in Melbourne or the states. Before leaving we enquire about room availability and find had we arrived last evening, we'd have been able to to get rooms at the expected price.

After lunch we decide to walk back to the guest house. Nearing the halfway mark Terry mentions the lack of juvenile presence. Within 1 minute of mentioning the absence of youthful escort they arrive en-force. Terry takes a ploy of hanging back acting as though he speaks neither French or English and letting them surround me. I feel like pig-pen in the Peanuts comic strips but with a cloud of children rather than a cloud of dust. By the time we reach the house we're both quite tired of the throng. We'd seen a boat that is marked "Taxi" and go to the lake to investigate the possibility of a boat ride today or tomorrow only to realize the taxi is sitting on the shallow lake bottom with a couple of feet of water in it's hold.

We decide to cool by taking a swim in the lake and the temperature is perfect. After the 17 Km of walking it is the perfect recipe for getting rid of acquired, dust, sweat, grime and heat. While we're relaxing we start to hear rhythmic responsive singing. The fishing boats are going out for the night to fish for the petit poisson (little fish). The boats are three boats connected together with poles. On the way out they are close together but once out fishing the poles are spread so the trimaran setup covers almost twice the distance. Long poles extend from both ends of each of the three hulls for dropping the nets and the boats are paddled to their destinations. Later in around dusk the lanterns will be started. We aren't sure if it's to attract more of the sardine sized fish or so they can see to sort them. Dinner @ Paradise where we're joined by a British woman who is traveling alone and has come to see the guerrillas,, sit by the lake and attend the naming ceremony. She is delightfully oblivious to many of the typical concerns of foreign travel and is having a marvelous time. There has been a cancellation and she's allowed to move back into her room from the tent. She's a bit disappointed in that the tent was to be free. My heater kicks on warning my it's time to call it quits for the day. I'm in bed by 9:00 and asleep by 9:00:30.

Morning comes with rhythmic responsive singing of the returning fishermen through my open screened window. I throw on clothes and grab my camera as Terry and I hurry to the beaching area to see the catch. As the second boat comes in the middle pole hits the bluff and the tip of one of the poles breaks. I hurry to grab one of the other poles and pick it up enough to clear and Terry grabs the other side. The fishermen are happy for the help and allow us to hang around and take pictures. I'm surprised by the apparent absence of fish. For an entire night of fishing there doesn't appear to be appropriate amount of fish. An older woman is working a hatchet on some branches to make a fire and cook some of the catch for breakfast. We head back for our own breakfast and then back to town to try and change our tickets for an earlier ride. To my shock Terry suggests we ride motos back to town as the matatas look as though we might have to wait an hour or more to reach the requisite 18 passengers.

We're delighted to find an empty bus waiting and they are happy to change our tickets. Terry gets the coveted front passenger seat with the window & I'm in the next one back with a window. The bus leaves and nobody occupies the jump seats and the driver confirms there will be no other passengers for the express run to Kigali. The road between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri is under construction and many of the homes that are too close are marked with an X indicating imminent domain and ultimate destruction at some point in the near future. Past large banana and tea plantations. Another cool thing I've seen are the egg baskets. There is a section of road where the local people bring baskets made from banana leaves to the side of the road. Inside are 30 eggs. If it wasn't the last week before departure, I'd beg the driver to swing in and get one of these egg baskets but I know if we have eggs every day I won't get them all eaten so I settle for a picture.

Back in Kigali by 12:30 and down to another Indian Restaurant I've located called Ice and Spice.

They warn us that the food will take almost an hour but it's on the table in 30 minutes. I think you'd much rather be told a longer time and have it arrive early than a short time and have it arrive late. We split up and I do some afternoon shopping before returning to Kimihurura. I'm starting to sort my stuff for the return and to get more detailed in what I'm leaving/taking and working through my gift list.

Before dark I walked to the local convenience store (Hah!) for a few critical items (T.P., some juice concentrate, eggs for 5 more breakfasts, a 500 ml container of full cream milk and bunch of bananas) Supper with Terry in the cabana of the left over food in our cabinets (pasta with tomato paste, microwaved potatoes, and cabbage salad). Dr. Konn had planted some collards and I cooked a batch for about an hour and then left for a few minutes to start the blog, , , , , forgot the collards , , , , , and scorched them (I ate most of them any way).

Dr. Konn arrived after and had been to the orphanage for one last time. She witnessed one of the older staff ladies with an old fashioned two sided razor blade (no handle) chopping at the children's hair for hair cuts. She was holding them down with a leg thrown over them as they screamed. Now we know the source of all the head wounds. Some of the kids are HIV+ and using the same razor blade on kid after kid is an instant source of transmission. Tomorrow I'll find an electric Razor.

Link to all my Gisenyi pictures