Friday, April 2, 2010

Not a Bad Good Friday

Good Friday was my first day in Rwanda.
The jet lag and the energy-sapping awe of a new city make me pretty exhausted, so I will be brief, but here are some highlights, in pictures, of my first day here:

The first thing I saw when I woke was the mosquito net hovering over my bed. A different kind of first-morning sight.

After orienting myself, I looked out the widow behind my bed and saw my first daylight glimpse of my new home:

I then walked outside into the backyard of the guest house where I am staying for the next two weeks, where the father of the house and his 15-month old Rwandan baby Iranzi were hand feeding bread to their pets, two East African Hooded Cranes:

After that, Emily (one of my roomies) and I went to go look at the house we will be living in this year. The house is lovely: beautiful yard, beautiful tile, a close walk to my office, a guard house for a live-in guard, and a porch overlooking the Kigali valley that is took my breath away. Here is our porch and view:

And from the front of the house:

We then met our landlord over lunch, where we reviewed and revised our lease, trying to convince the landlord (through an interpreter) to put a cupboard (note -- a singular cupboard) in our kitchen as well as a stove. As currently situated, the kitchen has a sink and a tile floor. Period.
Thankfully, we prevailed. My first Rwandan legal maneuver! The translator said with some respect and mostly curiosity -- "You have, yes, the legal terminology?" So, here's my new street, in case ya'll want to come visit:

Later, in a more animated turn of events (even as compared to the intense cupboard negotiations), I was yelled at by a very angry man armed with a machine gun. This sounds a lot worse than it ended up being. I wanted to take a picture -- and did - of the remarkable fact that there are men with large weapons at the supermarket entrance. APPARENTLY, one is never supposed to take pictures of any armed men in this country. Note this, friends, before you come to Rwanda. The guard ran over yelling all kinds of unfriendly things (with accompanying hand gestures) at me and my Rwandan friend who was with me. After a couple of minutes, and after deleting the picture from my camera, we all decided I was an idiot, and actually the guard and I are now great friends -- saw him several times throughout the day and we shared multiple smiling fist bumps. Lesson learned, and a new friend --perfect! I regret that no photos survived the ordeal. [Also, don't take pictures of buildings either. Another guard was VERY disappointed in me and made me delete a picture of the Deloitte & Touche Rwanda building that I took for Kate Lynch and Hollis who work at D&T in DC.] Lesson seriously learned. I'm curbing my photo enthusiasm, don't worry. Can't fool me three times. But this guy apparently wasn't armed because he didn't confiscate my pictures:

I also got my Rwandan cell phone (only works in Rwanda and only comes with 3 and a half minutes loaded on it (what do they think we're going to accomplish in less than 4 minutes); took a very long, beautiful walk around the city (including many high fives with beautiful children who want to touch any white person they see -- called m); ate an outdoor supper and took my first moto-taxi home.

And last night I Skyped with my dearest JFL, celebrating one year of knowing him, and I more grateful than I have ever been for technology.

All in all, not a Bad Good Friday. Wishing you a joyful Easter from Kigali.


  1. It is a beautiful place. Happy you have an oven now. I'll contact you later about using SKYPE.


  2. Your pictures and your story make my heart hum! What a spectacular Good Friday! I think Rwanda may be a perfect match for you, a soul mate of sorts. I can just see you smiling and laughing with all the children. How beautiful!

  3. oh my goodness. sister, the cranes! and a kitchen without appliances sounds lovely to me. just lovely. i am more grateful than i have ever been that you are having this adventure. the kids and i are praying everyday. tish says, "dear God, thank you for the beautiful world. and please bless Mandy and her new friends in Wanda."
    i love you.

  4. Sister, thank you for putting this blog together to bring your story closer to us. These pictures are REALLY great by the way.

    Also, do you think it would be possible to do something for me? I can't help but to look at the picture of your porch and how glossy-like the surface looks. Would you be so kind as to attempt to slide across them with your socks to see how far you go? I would take a REALLY long head start and just go for it. Trust me, I would do that if I was there. Would totally be fun. While you are at it, I would ask the guard if you can borrow his machine gun while you slide across the porch, while taking a picture of the expression on his face. Good times.


    G's Husband, Daddy-O, Top-Dawg

  5. Mandy, I am so happy to hear about your adventure. Thank you for keeping a blog. We may need to SKYPE our wedding for you!

  6. You're having a wonderful time! Gosh, what incredible pictures...not what I expected at all. I feel like I've already learned a lot from your time there, and you've just arrived.

    Sounds like you got to live in Glennon's dreamhouse for the first few precious days...a house with no stove!!

  7. Are you KIDDING me??? You end up in Africa, AND you have a roommate named Emily? Unbelievable. Consider me a follower. So happy and excited for you and this new adventure.

  8. Wow. Amazing start to an amazing experience. Did you take that first picture of the hills? It's seriously gorgeous. I love that this blog is so thorough and educational! We miss you around here already. Keep up the good work!

  9. Hi Mandy!The cranes reminded me of Lourdes and me before any japanese or brazilian type of hair straightening. What a lovely idea to share your story. I'm so proud to have a friend like you. Lots of love from your friend, Jenny Elena

  10. Look at you making it happen, Sister! I can't wait to follow you and your journey ;-) Let me know how it goes when you slide across the floor with the gun. This is EXCITING stuff!

  11. So glad I ran into you before you left...and I hope I run into you when I'm over there in May. Africa's huge, but Rwanda and Uganda are neighbors! Take care, and be safe. :) Kelly

  12. Dicat- I am so glad about the cupboard but if you have mice Bums will NOT visit. Also, Hollis is very disappointed to not be seeing the Deloitte photo. Very, very sad. On a serious note, I am completely moved by what you have said here. I'm SO GLAD you have the blog going. I am your loyal follower.
    xoxo DWASP

  13. My Dear Mandy,
    This little line from our song fits perfect for how I feel about you being in "Wanda"
    "Every little thing you do your on my mind your on-- our on my mind"
    I can't tell you how much you inspire my every day. I am jealous of your ambition and willingness to give up your job-your family-friends and comfortable life in DC. I know that the people of "Wanda" are going too consider you an angel from the heavens. Thank God for making your mind and heart work together. It is too often the two have conflicting goals making doing good things seem insensible.
    I love you!

  14. You're there! You're really there! I'm so glad you have the blog and that I can follow your adventures while I toil in Tysons. We miss you terribly here, but I'm glad that you're there safely, that you have an oven, and that you've made a friend. (Hint: she's silver.)

    We're all fine here-- we bought a house the weekend after you and I had lunch, and we're already moved. Because if there's a hard and and easy way to do things, we do the hard way. That's how we roll. D is fine; C is fine; everyone is fine. We all send our love.


  15. Dear Doyle,

    I just found your blog - I don't know why I didn't hear about it and find it sooner but alas, I am here and soaking every word up til the last drop.

    WOw - where to begin? I read the entire blog and now I'm working my way through every comment and will proceed to comment on each day and your words. Which are amazing by the way...what a gift you have with our language. So I'm going to stop my crying, blubbering and try to put a few sentences together about this wonderful blog page...

    What a journey you have been on...and from the beginning - you have started this journey and now are in amazing land of thousands of hills. Perfect, pure perfection!

    You are so strong and I couldn't be happier that you and "Wanda" (love it by the way and please tell your niece "thank you" b/c I'm adopting it!) have found each other. You will continue to be an angel to every single person, child you meet in that country. That's the way everyone feels about you...well- you're just really special.

    I hope the travel treated you well and so happy you arrived safe and had a bed to sleep in your first night. Those nets are a bit like Encanta La Vida in Costa Rica...good times!

    Also so happy that you were welcomed in Wanda with open arms, men with large machine guns and lots of yelling. Home sweet home for 9 months! Enjoy every second there - soak everything up and I just know that you're life is changing with every moment there - and you'll also change everyone's life that you meet - that's just you!

    Love you tons, miss you face. A lot.