Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Doodle Despiration


I am soon the be a nekkid traveller at this rate. I have been back in East Africa for six months. My shoes are falling apart and my clothes are running out. What I packed for gallivanting about Laos with friends has not entirely served me well as a business professional elsewhere.

I've scoured a handful of clothes shops and, frankly, West, your castoffs are not up to snuff. Either stuff doesn't fit or it looks like something my nanna knitted.

No real choice left but to get creative and come up with some designs for the numerous tailor shops in Kigali. The main problems are:

  1. Design: I never really think about what I actually like about clothes. I've always had an aversion to shopping and fashion. If it fits and I can afford it, I'll probably buy it, then head to the bookshop. Thinking about it a little further, I've always liked jeans and trousers that are slightly flared at the bottom. I also love the notched shirt collar you can wear slightly open, with quarter-length sleeves. Thankfully I have a shirt like that which can act as a template. As for the rest, I'm busy taking screen shots from TV shows and looking up fabulously helpful style guides like this one.
  2. Material: The main problem is the dearth of denim and cotton. Mostly the markets are stocked with traditional wax cloth in brightly coloured African patterns. I've worn bright fabric in the past, but more and more people seem to be switching to Western dress for work. Also, the wax cloth can get a bit sweaty on hot days.
  3. Fitting: Another problem is finding a really good tailor. They do exist - I've had some lovely clothes made in the past. I've also had some disasters. Mostly because the tailors have made the clothes the size and shape they think you ought to be, rather than the size and shape you actually are.


I did find a dress down the back of my bed last night, but it's a size eight, so not so helpful.

Need to find some material I actually like, improve my drawings, and find a talented tailor.

My ultimate aim is to bring steampunk to this beautiful continent. I'm going to see if I can find someone who can make me one of these. What are my chances?


Monday, 24 November 2014

Longest Catch-up Ever

Ho hum. Sorry cybersphere for my disappearing act. It has been a mad, mad couple of weeks.

I thought about updating day by day but everything's swum into a bit of a blur so I'm going to try and do a quick catch-up of the highlights.

Went for dinner at Jo's a couple of weeks back and she brought out the glow sticks. Soooo pretty with the lights of Kigali in the background.





I like going to Jo's. Got to wear my tie. Not often I get the occasion. Not sure why. There's a brilliant designer in Kigali who makes bowties, and the occasional woman wearing a trilby, but never seen a woman wearing a tie. Fashion opportunity missed.



Streets were completely empty as I headed home from my old neighbourhood of Gikondo. Rujugiro's mansion on the right. I used to live along the next road down, back in 2009.



There have been storms, and rain. This is one rolling in.



Went to an incredible concert organised by my friend Fidens. Spectacular. They're called the Paradise Singers. Never heard anything like it in Rwanda before. Beautiful voices, lovely repertoire, including Don't Cry for Me Argentina and Hallelujah. And such a gorgeous setting - The Gift Hotel, all done out with candles and lamps. This is early footage, but the place was totally packed. The owner was dead worried that people would complain about the noise, but only one neighbour called in - to say it was such a beautiful concert, could they do it again!




video


Then I got a message from Dan, the filmmaker who I hosted who went up to Kampala to shoot a documentary. He had an accident and really hurt his foot, so two of his Ugandan friends were helping him back with his luggage - could they stay a couple of nights?

Rushed out to buy a spare mattress for the office as I only have one guestroom and I thought the lady might want a bit of privacy.




Also stocked up on goodies for him. He wanted to take back what everybody wants to take back: cigs, coffee and waragi (Ugandan 'war gin').




Also bought him a traditional painting. It's made from cow poo.




Next up was a trip to Musanze in the North, about an hour south of Gisenyi. Jo and I headed up for Fidens' birthday. He was attempting to cycle the whole way from Kigali, but we caught up with him at Nyirangarama. Was a lovely gathering at his parents' place, chilling out with my two favourite ladies, Jo and Zubadoo.







Random picture of a crow.





As we were leaving the heavens opened in spectacular style. Fidens leapt into our car along with his friend, who I shall refer to from here on in as Tracy Chapman, because she really looks like her. I must admit, I was a little bit smitten. Really lovely lady - smart, funny, sparky. Going to see if my friends can subtly arrange a bumping-into that doesn't look totally obvious.

Dan and co. arrived from Uganda at stupid-o'clock the next morning. P and A. Truly lovely people who swiftly set about cooking Ugandan rolex, which is chapati with lots of goodies in it. Like the improvised rolling pin?







Another storm rolled in about a day later, this time with a beautiful rainbow that stretched right across the sky.






When my turn came to cook, I did al fresco pasta on the porch with fresh grown salad and vegetables from my garden.






Got a beautiful picture of P and Damascene (my housekeeper) playing omweso/igisoro. I learned how to play in Uganda and it was nice to get to pass my skills back to a Ugandan. 




Sadly Dan had to fly home to the UK that night. I took him to the airport at midnight, but you can't go inside anymore to wave off your guests, so we hugged outside. He's got some incredible footage and I can't wait to see the final documentary. He's a really amazing bloke. Most people sit home and talk about the problems in the world, but he actually got on a plane and came to see for himself. Proud to know him.

Took A and P to Gisozi the next day. P's grandparents escaped '94 and went to Uganda, and this was the first time they'd visited Rwanda, so it was quite emotional. 


Standing beside the amphitheatre at Gisozi.

We headed to Nyamirambo for food and some retail therapy to cheer ourselves up afterwards.

Had a visitor on the porch when we got back. A praying mantis in its full glory. Them scary. They seem to have amazing eyesight and it looked at me wherever I went.





Love going to pick little one up from school with Jo. They do a really lovely thing where they display the kids' work outside their classrooms each day. Here she is beside the duck she coloured in. I know an exhibited artist!




Had a lovely night out with Jo and Fidens. Went for cocktails and a meal at Pasha, then rounded up at Republika until the wee hours. Very chilled-out lounge bar with good music.










Went back the next night with A & P. P has some incredible shoes. What's more incredible is that she can walk down a mud road without faltering! People were literally staring - very impressive.



Strike a pose!
You can walk in those?

Free nom noms with drinks at Republika.

After that my lovely landlord and friend, I, took us to a club I didn't even know existed - Tiamo. They have live music most nights of the week. I was a bit unsure when we first walked in because it's quite a small place. Then the music kicked off and - looking around - I realised it was quite unusual. Soon we were dancing our hearts out. It was a truly fabulous night.




I, me and P.

A truly, truly mad and wonderful night. We fell into bed at about 5am, just as the dawn chorus was starting up.

My house was like a mortuary the next day - bodies draped over couches. We were all a little worse for wear so we hooked up the projector and spent the day watching movies. In the evening, my incredible housekeeper cooked a full traditional banquet of meat, ugali, rice and peanut sauce. He is the most lovely bloke in all the world. I had no idea he could cook!





The next night we were out again, flying through the beautiful lights of Kigali. We headed to Papyrus, which is a shisha bar and club run by my friend Cindy, who I knew six years ago. 




Strike another pose!


Erm... I'm in there somewhere, smelling of apples.




Another seriously strange and intoxicating night. We ended up at a house party after that, then briefly at Sundowner, then back to Papyrus where we bumped into a Big Brother celebrity, Frankie, who was a really nice guy. Another all-nighter, dawn breaker.

But the biggest news of all - the night we went to Tiamo I somehow managed to pull!

This is news because, for the past four years, I have been in the strangest of moods. Desperately fascinated by someone who wasn't the least bit interested, as I eventually came to accept. I really have been a total bore to my friends, completely out of character. I don't know what came over me - bout of severe mental deficiency. I haven't really looked at or thought about anyone else all that time. Silly me.

So, there I am, dancing, when I look round to find this absolutely stunning individual on my arm. Seriously, never seen a body like that in my life. After an initial bout of 'what the hell are you doing with me - how drunk are you?' self-consciousness, I gave in and went with it.

I have had a blissful couple of days of extreme rudeness, christened two rooms in the house and the front porch, and woke up to some incredible lazy morning goodness.

I'm not saying the spell is entirely broken, but holy mother I feel more like my old self at last. Kinda gal that could really get you in trouble - the nice sort. Don't think I'll be round that way again, but it'll keep me grinning for a while to cum. Sorry - too much information. But, seriously, wow - what a confidence boost. Reminds me of that joke:

Man walks into a church. 
"Father, I have just had pre-marital sex with two blonde nyphomaniacs!"
"Say ten Hail Marys and four Our Fathers."
"I'm not asking for forgiveness, I'm telling everybody!"

Just dropped A & P off at Nyabugogo for their bus back to Kampala. Hoping they make it safe. Was so lovely to meet them. Home now and looking forward to sleeping for a week. Bloody knackered, but happy.

Such wonderful friends, such a lucky life, so much to look forward to.


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