Monday, 29 February 2016

Going Green

Ah, who can be down when you have an office like this?

I spend Mondays at Novotel, by the pool, eating scrummy melange. It's a start the week treat. The hotel is no longer Novotel, but everybody still calls it that. 

I've had a fairly tough time since the last post. I was suffering terribly when I first got back. I seem to recall this happening last year, too. There's something about January/February that I'm massively allergic to. I was living off a diet of antihistamines, vitamin C and neti nasal irrigation. Went down to the clinic as I was wheezing like - well, like someone suffering horribly from asthma, which I was. My trusty Salbutamol inhaler wasn't doing the trick. The hospital was packed, but thankfully you can buy just about anything over the counter here. 

I got one of these, which is like the finger food of the medicine world - it's so much fun to use. It's a little purple spaceship that dispenses something like the old Becotide, to help protect your lungs. Really made a difference. And they also sold me some strange cough mixture, which I later read is supposed to be for the relief of pneumonia or something. After one dose, I didn't cough again for three days!

A local guy came to clean my house the other day and I've been a bit better since then. The lady who rented in my absence had a dog, so maybe that's had something to do with it. 

Damascene also came to sort out my garden, which had been turned into a sesame seed production plant. Looking forward to sowing some vegetables at some point.

And this is Jo's birthday present to me. Something I've wanted for a really long time - Night Blooming Jasmine. Apparently it grows like wildfire, but it's one of the most wonderful plants in the world. When it flowers, you can smell it from worlds away. A really heady scent that I associate with long evenings in Kigali.

So, yes. I will admit to having been a little down due to ill health - both the asthma and a vicious tummy bug. It's finally starting to lift, though. I'm breathing freely again and my spirits are lifting. I probably should have waited until now before tackling RRA (Rwanda Revenue), but I didn't. I went there and promptly burst into tears as they piled on yet more fines. This time for Corporation Tax, which nobody had told me anything about. That's the continuous experience with RRA - the only time they bother to communicate with you is when they're charging you for something they didn't bother to communicate to you. Apparently all new businesses get training now - but I didn't.

Still, I've learned my lesson. I realise what I did wrong and how not to do it again.

It was also amusing to discover that when I applied to deregister from VAT, they apparently closed my entire business! Utterly bizarre. But, also not terribly surprising. They happily reopened it again in order to fine me. *rolls eyes*

On to things that make me happy...

Cool Bug Picture

I built myself a blanket fort. This was actually inspired by Zuba, who likes to turn my furniture into a hide out when she comes to visit. Only, it's got a slightly more practical use.

My publisher asked me to do a narration for them. I haven't heard whether it's been accepted yet, but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Thing is, acoustics are important when recording. You can sort most problems out with Audacity, but the cleaner the initial recording, the better. Some friends who do this more regularly explained they sometimes sit in the clothes closet to record, or hang up blankets, as these absorb unwanted echo and outside noise.

I didn't end up using the fort in the end, but you never know when it might come in handy.

As well as voice over stuff, I've also had my first editing client. I set up a proofreading and editing service. I put up a website just because it was easy to do. Couple of days later a local academic Googled 'proofreading in Rwanda' and, tadah! A customer. 

As my own editor warned, it isn't the best paid work in the world, but it's certainly not to be sniffed at. Plus, I find it strangely therapeutic. Probably because you can do it on your own, sitting by a pool.

I've also written up a creative writing curriculum for a friend who is turning her house into a college, opening in June. Thought I'd give it a go.

Banner in the Post Office - Oops!

My landlord's son, who lives next door, is now teaching me weekly Kinyarwanda lessons. Though, in truth, we sit and chat in English rather more, because I'm a terrible gossip. But it's really nice to have something to challenge me each week. It's about time I could say more than 'a cold beer and a brochette, please.'

I've finally finished my latest novel and set to editing it. It's the most complicated plot I've ever written. Most of the time I can wing it, but this actually needs serious fathoming. I have flip chart paper, sticky tabs (thanks Mum!), an assortment of pens, and a fat cushion on the floor to stop my arse from aching. 

I am finally starting to lose a little of my UK Christmas podge. Discovered this utterly fantastic new service in Kigali called Fresh Basket. They deliver fresh fruit and veg direct to your door. I used something like this in Cardiff years ago. Truly wonderful produce, and really friendly service. I have tons of leafy greens to make salad, some broccoli, kale and sweet potato to sustain my soup fetish, cucumber and tomato for sandwiches, onions, bananas, avocado, even mango jam! But my favourite is the fresh herbs. My whole house smells of mint. It's scrummy. Had to fill a bowl with water to keep everything fresh. 

I can't wait to get cooking with all of this. I feel a little squee of joy at the sight of all that fresh, leafy salad, which is really hard to come by. I'm trying to nurse my body back to health with wholesome foods.

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