Sunday, 28 August 2016



We had a dramatic tree rescue in my garden the other day.

Termites attacked the mighty healing papaya

It still has a main root so my lovely landlord pegged it upright with metal poles and it's been doing well ever since. Coated the trunk in engine oil, which apparently staves them off. See if it survives the wet season winds. At least the new washing line is sturdy.

In other good news - I found my cleaning lady! She hadn't disappeared. Turns out it was a problem with my phone. She never got the messages. Managed to call her. She was wondering what had happened to me. We have been happily reunited.

In more good news - the kitten returned. It shows up occasionally to pilfer milk. I put out some Go Cat. It took one sniff, turned up its nose as if to say 'What is this shit?' and walked off. Came back though and has forgiven me.

 In other, other news...

My beautiful house:

And my beautiful house after a boy has been in it:

Had a nice afternoon watching movies, swapping books and giggling like lunatics.

He was extremely hungover after seeing a college friend off on the bus to Kampala at stupid o'clock this morning. I was shattered, due to my neighbour waking me at 6:30 with this crap. It's a preacher on the radio, but it reminds me of the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. Who the hell would voluntarily listen to that on a Sunday morning - or any morning? If it happens again, I'm setting up speakers by the wall and blasting out Rage Against the Machine until they back down.

We lay there, dying quietly together.

Can't believe it's a year ago today that I was flying over Entebbe en route to the UK for the first time in a year and a half, recovering from malaria. Feels like it was yesterday. How fast the time flies. 

My visa is up for renewal at the end of the year. I'm desperately hoping it gets renewed so that I can spend another couple of years in this wonderful country. My landlord has offered to find me a general to marry if it all goes wrong. I told him I didn't think I would make the general very happy, and he laughed a little too hard at that!

Hopefully it will all be okay.

Until then, much fun to be had.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


How cute is this? 

It's a skink that lives in my garden. I think it might have had a fall and been concussed or something, they don't usually stay still long enough for you to get this close. It stayed there whilst I went to get my camera, but was gone a little while later.

The dry season continues...

Which is really good for drying your washing... or your money, if you're dumb enough to put it through the machine.  

Had a truly lovely night out at Zen on Thursday. I have a writing client who occasionally treats me to fancy meals. Really nice ginger beef with noodles, followed up with tempura ice-cream and chocolate mousse.

Picked his brains about my missing housekeeper. He thinks I should head down to the police station and report it. Another friend reckons she's just got a better job and left. But it does feel weird. She really didn't strike me as the kind of person to just disappear without saying anything. The phone number being out of action seems odd, as does the no e-mail response and the fact she left her dress here... I should have taken a picture of her identity card when she started, would have made this much easier. I may investigate this week. Just like to know she's okay.

Popped back to Acacia Book Café on Friday. It really is a lovely place - full of books.

Started handing out flyers for my course in September. 

Another nice surprise - they've reopened Ndoli's. My first ever house in Kigali was right behind this shop and I used to go there every day. Then they closed it and refurbished the building. I thought it was gone for good, but it's back - shinier than ever. I'm trying to avoid shopping at Nakumatt at the moment and this is closer. Look, they've got trolleys and everything now.

So, what else has been happening...

Well, Hot Guy wasn't free on Friday, so we moved our rendezvous to Saturday. Right up until he arrived on the door I was expecting the typical change of plans, but there he was, dot on time, looking rather too wonderful for words.

We talked for eight hours straight. I hadn't laughed so much in a really long time. He's as completely bonkers as I am. I'd cooked, and we washed it down with several large bottles of beer, but I think it was the chocolate mousse that clinched it.

He was heading for the gate but somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in the bedroom instead.

I am completely sprung.

But shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Soundproofing isn't a standard feature of houses in Rwanda, and I'm not sure I can ever look my neighbours in the eye again.

I've been floating around the house giggling like a child all morning.

He says he's not seeing anyone, and I do believe him. Plus he's a friend of very good friends, and my very good friends don't make friends with people who aren't lovely. I vote we just see a lot more of each other and check how things go. 

It was just the most perfect night.

This hot weather certainly gets a sweat up.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Squeeee Post

Ladybirds in Rwanda are striped!

*squuuueeee* ~faint~

I'm collecting bugs in my house since the kittens disappeared. I went out and bought two boxes of Go Cat, then never saw them again. Sadly, I suspect they may have gone the way of the previous kittens. People aren't so big on pets here.

Oh well.

We had the most glorious tropical thunder storm last night. Everyone took to Twitter and Facebook to talk about it. After three long, dry months, the word petrichor was celebrated. I feel sad for people back home in the UK who never truly get to experience the joy of rain in quite the same way.

I've also got a bunch of cheeky fuckers pilfering my pawpaw tree!

They're pretty cute really. I actually don't like the taste of papaya much, so they're welcome to it.

Talking of cute...

Such a bittersweet night Sunday night. Maja's off back to Bosnia after running the human rights program. Very hard to see these two separated. Hoping she finds a job here soon. Don't think I've seen two people so much in love since Lies & Kassim's wedding in 2009

Had a wonderful night at their house with friends, and the most delightful chocolate banana cake I've ever tasted in my life.

That wasn't the only sweet surprise.

That guy I was talking about turned up. We spent the entire night talking (he's a writer too). Then we headed to a dodgy club in an even more dodgy area of town. I vaguely remember doing tequila shots at 3 a.m. I think we went to a second club after that, but I don't even remember how we got there. I was the first to throw in the towel at 4 a.m. I haven't had a night out like that in a long time. I'm out of practise. 

I would add pictures, but it's all a bit of a blur...

Though, if I close my eyes and think about it, I do have vague recollections of a drunken, steamy snog. 

Monday was a public holiday, but I had a Fresh Basket delivery at 9:30. I just managed to drag myself to the compound gate, then spent the next ten minutes emptying my stomach in the bushes. I haven't had a hangover like that since... well, now I come to think about it, since the last time I went out with Maja!


Only, now I've got loads of problems.

I'm supposed to finish a novel this week, only I've spent the entire day staring at my computer screen. I haven't written a thing. 

I'm glad I texted Hot Guy on my way home to ask to see him again, because if I'd left it until I was sober, I wouldn't have had the courage. I know tequila and texting don't usually mix well, but this was a rare exception. I'm hopefully seeing him Friday.

Which leads to the other problem. Like the kittens, my house cleaner has disappeared off the face of the planet. I suspect her phone has been stolen as I can't seem to text her and she isn't checking WhatsApp. But she's not replying to e-mail either. I'm bereft. She's left her stuff here, and I need her. She's the best helper I've ever had. I'm not sure what to do now. Jo's dropping off her housekeeper Kazungu on Thursday so that I can borrowing him for a day.

I have so much to do between now and then. I desperately need to focus, but I'm not sure how. 

Think I caught spring fever along with the rains.

Sunday, 14 August 2016


Yet another ridiculously late catch up.

Mostly because nothing has been happening. I'm a slave to my writing desk at the moment.

Also, to cooking. My hand is coming on leaps and bounds. I have full movement back, except for my little finger which remains slightly crooked, but doesn't cause any problems. My wrist is still a little tight and sore, but slowly improving. I can now do most things with ease, including cooking - which I've been doing a lot of to catch up. 

Fruit Salad
(banana, home grown papaya, passion fruit and tree tomato)

Despite all of this, Joanna says there's 'less of me' every time she sees me. We both agree that the UK is a terrible place for our waistlines.

I've also been having fun with fuzzy kittens.

Reminds me a little bit of Sula.

I absolutely refuse to have cats again. I've turned down both Jo and my new friend Pieter. It's just too hard to leave them behind, and without the certainty of a visa extension in January, who knows when I'll be leaving. If I get the extension, I might revisit the question, but my landlord doesn't like cats and he's my next door neighbour. 

However, I have nothing against feeding them if they're in my garden. They're feral and terrified of me anyway. No danger of them becoming house cats.

I might have accidentally bought two boxes of Go Cat at Sawa Siti yesterday.

Haven't seen the kittens since.


Had an absolutely lovely evening meeting Pieter. He runs Thespis Consulting and got in contact after seeing my post about creative writing. He lives in Gikondo with his adopted son. I went for dinner and, as always, discovered we know half the same people. Stayed chatting until midnight, then turned into a pumpkin.

On Thursday, I went to the final presentation of a human rights organisation in Kigali. I ran the program last year. This year my (then) program assistant, Maja, was country director. She did an excellent job.

Nice presentation with traditional dancing and an in-depth chat about human rights.

It was a little strange. It feels like only last week Maja arrived in-country. The same night I burnt my hand! (She pulled me out of the fire!). In fact, it's been about three months, and other than two nights at my place, I've only seen her once during that time. Now she's leaving.

I'm off to a party at her place tonight. Looking forward to it. I've been so engrossed in writing it's like the whole world disappeared. It would be nice to visit it again.

Annoyingly, there's a guy I'm hoping might be there. He was one of the participants on the program last year, so I never really looked at him because I assumed he was under twenty-five. Turns out he lied about his age to get on. We're almost the same age. He helped me out with the second intake, and became an honorary member of the staff's Team Majoga (The Drunks) for services rendered. 

Annoyingly, I find him quite attractive.

He came out with us the night of Maja's last party. We almost talked, but I was broken, inebriated and surrounded by strange blokes, so decided just to go back inside and keep drinking. He was at the conference the other day, too. Long story short, but we walked out together and agreed to have a drink. "Call me," he said. Uh-uh. "Call me," I said. 

It's a take-it-or-leave-it tactic. If he calls, I'll go. If he doesn't, nothing missed. 

I don't like the idea of seeing a past participant. It still feels like cradle snatching after so long thinking he was younger than he is, his friends seem to think he's a bit of a player, and he just introduced me to someone as 'the boss'. I'm all for fantasy roleplay, but I ain't nobody's boss no more. Lot of reasons not to go there. 

Still, he does look good in a suit.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Miracle Man

This is the lovely Nurse Moses I keep talking about. 

Slightly tearful goodbye yesterday.

After a two-week hiatus, I returned to see the dermatologist. 

I think her name is Dr. Kimonye, but to my mind she will forever be Dr. Caligari, because her consulting room is Cabinet No.6.

She didn't say much, just wrote me a prescription for some cream to help hydrate my skin and told me to come back in September. Apparently, you can't tell if scars are going to be permanent for at least three months. I have some pretty big lumps in my fingers that don't look like they're going anywhere anytime soon, but she said sometimes they can just disappear. She mentioned something about silicon injections if they don't, but I think I'll cling to a vague sense of hope for now.

I can type perfectly well now, and each day I'm getting a little bit better with the knife half of a knife and fork (I'm a left-handed knifey). Still can't play a tin whistle, but who knows. Fingers crossed (I can almost do that).

It was really sad saying goodbye to the staff. I've been going there every three days for two months. They've all been so lovely to me. Took in a large tub of sweets for everyone, and a wee gift for Moses. So grateful to them for everything they've done. Even the Soldier of God, he did make me smile. 

Did almost ended up back in hospital the other day. Bought sausages from Nakumatt. I think someone only read the use by date for frozen storage, and they were in the chilled section. A week out of date and green.

Even the cats won't eat them. 

Did I mention I have a couple of kittens that hang out in my garden now?

No, I won't. I can't. It was far too upsetting when I left the country last time. I refuse to adopt kittens again. They look terrified of me, anyway. Except for one black kitten who quietly watches me and waits for me to put down milk before sneaking up when I leave. It looks a little bit like Sula. 

I still chopped up my veg, but used bacon instead.

C'mon onions, you bastards. Who's crying now?
In final news, guess who feels like a complete arsehole?


Saw a missed call from chap in a cassock over the weekend. I tend to have my phone on silent whilst working, so don't pick up messages until the evening. He'd only just left Rwanda, and hadn't said anything about coming straight back. I just thought he'd given his SIM to someone and they were testing out numbers (honestly, that's a fair assumption here). So, I didn't bother calling back.

Yesterday, just out of curiosity, I sent a message via Facebook explaining that I'd had a missed call.

Turns out his dad died.   

He's in Goma sorting out his affairs, but flew in via Kigali. 

Still causes me brainache. Someone can think to call you when they land, but can't send an SMS or Facebook message to say they're here, or why? I still feel like a bit of a shit, but that mitigates the guilt slightly. Of course I would have answered if I'd known. 

I have no idea if he's coming back through Kigali, but I've said I'll cook for him if he does. What an awful thing to happen. I think he told me once that his dad wasn't well, but I didn't know how unwell. I hope he didn't buy the land in Kigali to move back here and take care of him.

Erm... perhaps not the best advertising slogan ever conceived.