Making great use of my Fresh Basket produce with a nommy egg salad. Also spent some of my birthday money on an amazing electric cook pot which steams rice and vegetables at the same time! You know you're getting old when you lose your shit over cooking appliances.
Caught up with Jo yesterday at the brand new Brioche that's opened up the road from me. They do delightful cakes, though the coffee's a bit strong. Ask for a cappuccino, get a triple espresso with added caffeine.
We were there to meet a new friend (a friend of a friend), who has been having real trouble at Immigration lately. She's trying to start a very cool business, but Rwanda isn't quite ready for Camden Town chic yet. Despite having customers queueing up around the block, they still won't give her a work permit. Worse than that, she's experienced outright racism, staff refusing to tell her their names or give her any information in writing, telling her to 'go back to her own country and start a business,' and it's even been suggested things might go smoother if she pays them some money! Bribes are absolutely frowned upon in Rwanda most of the time. There's even an anti-corruption hotline. It's so silly, when she could be making a lot of money for Rwanda Revenue already.
Jo and I gave her as much advice as we could. She's going to try applying under a different business instead, as she really wants to live and work here. She thinks it will be easier to discuss a second business if she can get the first one set up. She's got some really great ideas and works strongly with the local arts community. She's my next door neighbour, so we took a slow meander home via Ivuka Arts Centre, which is on the next street to mine.
I really enjoyed the walk. I stick to the main streets usually, so it's really refreshing to step off the tarmac and remind myself what everything looked like eight years ago. There's still a lot of traditional Rwanda left behind the big shiny shops.
We walked back to her house, which she shares with her partner who is a Rwandan artist. The whole house is a studio, with canvases everywhere. Really beautiful stuff.
It's also right next door to some other friends who share a massive house. They're turning it into a college from June and I'm hopefully going to start teaching creative writing and possibly a few sustainable development courses. Creative writing for the love of it, development for the money.
Pause for a really cool bug picture. It was on the ceiling so I couldn't get a decent shot of it, but it's so blue and pretty.
I'm off to Jo's 40th birthday party tomorrow. It's fancy dress and I'm desperately trying to think of a costume. The theme is 'In another life...' I think I've narrowed it down to a cat, a fortune teller or a man (I have a nice tie). She's dropping off Zuba this evening and we're going to make a card for her mummy.
My neighbour Didier came over on Wednesday for my second Kinyarwanda lesson. I'm absolutely loving it. He's my landlord's eldest son, twenty-four, and an IT graduate. He's so patient with me. I think I've learned more Kinyarwanda in two lessons than I have in the past two years. Unlike my last Kinyarwanda teacher, he's really focusing on day-to-day language and pronunciation, rather than grammar. After each lesson I record the sentences in English, pause, then in Kinyarwanda. So I play it back throughout the week and try to beat myself to the correct Kinya translation. It's working well.
Numbers are a big issue which I want to get better at. I know everything in hundreds, as that's what motos charge for public transport, but tens and thousands are difficult for me. They're particularly tricky because the way you make up numbers is by adding each number to the next. For example:
Sixteen thousand, four hundred and fifty-two
Ibihumbi ichumi na bitandatu na maganane na mirongo itanu na kabiri
Thousands ten and six and four hundred and fifty and two
It's a bit of a mouthful.
I've bought a pile of these fabulous children's books from Nakumatt. They're published by Fountain Publishers in Kigali, and I'm hoping that by next year I'll be able to read one of them.