Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lost & Found

I mentioned in my last post that I'd started a Kinyarwanda course twice a week at my friend Katie's café in Kacyiru. Halfway through the second session (a week last Wednesday), Katie came in with a couple of tiny kittens. They had been dumped in a bag outside.

She asked whether anyone could take them, so I said I would. I have a couple of spare rooms in my home and plenty of cat food and toys since Cat One moved in.

There's four in total, and they all have really different personalities already. Two of them are larger than the other two, so I have one big boy, one big girl, one small girl and one very small boy. The very small boy is the runt and he needs a lot of cuddles. His internal heating hasn't quite kicked in yet, so he shivers a lot.

I'm so grateful to the kindness of an expat who donated kitten formula and to WAG, who rehome abandoned dogs, but kindly lent me a kitten-sized hot water bottle.

They've been with me for one week now, but it feels a lot longer as they require so much care. When they're very tiny, you even have to massage their bums with warm water to help them to poo. It's a lot of work.

Just Arrived

Lap Full of Kittens
No, she doesn't have some hideous disease, she put her face in a plate of tuna and avocado.

Food tastes so much better with bottom...

Feeding Time Carnage

Sleeping it Off

Thanks to WAG for the hot water bottle, mum for donations towards food,
and Staples for sponsoring the kitty litter tray.

That said, they're progressing really well. The vet said they're all healthy. He reckons they're about three to four weeks old. They don't appear to have fleas, which is unusual for abandoned cats. In the space of seven days they've all made the transition from hand-feeding formula to solids. The two larger ones took to it no problem, but the smaller two, and especially the littlest, took slightly longer. Now that they are all weaned and using a litter tray, this makes my life much easier. Kitten formula does not smell good, and neither did I.

The eldest are also learning to eat from the side of the food tray, rather than sitting in it. This is helpful, as we tend to have cuddles after food and cat food doesn't smell good either. It also means I have to do less cleaning to get the gunk out of their fur.

I was hoping Cat One would help me out. We've been getting on really well lately. Two weeks ago, she let me stroke her for the first time. Now she regularly sits on my lap for a cuddle.

Unfortunately, she took one look at the kittens, arched her back, hissed, and ran off into the night.

Oh, well.

Essentially, I have started my crazy cat lady collection.

I'm going to raise the kittens for a couple of months, until they're old enough to rehome. I'd like to rehome them in pairs if possible, but I know that might not be an option. They are lovely little scamps and really playful - fluffy balls of tooth and claw.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Party Girls

Teaching Friends to Make Origami Flapping Birds

As ever, it's been a while since my last update, so lots has been happening. I'll try and get through most of it today.

A couple of weekends back, I had a mammoth night out with the girls. Not a very auspicious start, as I didn't have any water and had to get glammed up using a bucket. Haven't done that in a while.

Because who needs a hot shower when you have a bucket...?
We started out by visiting Kigali's grand new Marriott Hotel. It is absolutely huge. It only opened a couple of days before.

It is so large that it has the unfortunate feel of an airport, and the service was shocking. Lots of people outside but not a waiter in sight. Had to get up and go in search of them. Then twenty-five minutes for cocktails to arrive. But they were nice when they came


Then we headed to another new hotel, Ubumwe. They have a rooftop pool looking out across the entire city, but only guests can use it. Still, a spectacular sight.


We eventually ended up at Papyrus for shisha and gin.

This is me and the lovely Maia, who I'll say more about below. But by two o'clock in the morning Maia, Cindy (above with the shisha pipe) and myself were the only ones left from our original party. We were joined by our friend Lan and headed downstairs to Cindy's club, Envy.

Goodnight Papyrus, It's Time To Party
Way too much gin ensued...

And some really dodgy dancing on chairs...

Until, at five-thirty in the morning, we called it a night and I headed back to Maia's. We pulled an old mattress out onto the lawn and lay there watching the sun rise until we fell asleep.

Sunrise From The Taxi
Sunrise From The Garden

It took me three days to recover from that hangover, but it was totally worth it.

In more decorous happenings, I've finally started a proper Kinyarwanda course. Two nights a week at my friend Katie's café, Inzora. Katie and her friend developed the course after working as English teachers for a long time. They wanted people to be able to learn Kinya the same way people learn English, in an interactive TEFL sort of way. It works really well, and I joined up with my friend Agnés. It's a great group. Intensive but fun. And fabulous coffee.

Sadly the mighty healing papaya finally fell, despite my landlord's valiant efforts to save it with metal crutches. Very upsetting to see it go, especially after all it did for me. Blast you, termites!

In other teaching news, I now deliver a course in fiction writing once a week at Maia's new café and evening school, Casa Keza. Website's not up yet and café not open yet, but it's been a real honour taking the first ever class there. Opening night was baptised by a massive tropical storm. Water came pouring in thorough the closed windows and we had a spectacular backdrop of dramatic lightning. Despite that, everyone made it. I have eight students. Good mix of Rwandan and expat (and one Burundian refugee). Looking to run a second fiction course and also a course in web design. So between that and the Kinya classes, my weeks are pretty busy now.

Entrance Floor of Casa Keza

It's a lovely venue. Maia's inviting a few of us to be taste testers for the new menu, and her signature sangria. Happy times ahead.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Adventures with Kittens

Hah. Anyone for a banana murphin? I think it's a West Country recipe... ;)

Or, my ultimate comfort food: French toast (egg-fried bread) with Nutella, bananas and squirty cream. Nomnomnom.

Well, one of my feral kittens is making progress. She now feels comfortable enough to steal my food, sleep on my bed and even once jumped onto a chair to stand on my feet. She still won't let me stroke her yet, but we sometimes play pattercake with our paws.

Food Theft
Destruction of Property
Flea Distribution
My lovely friend Suzanne sent out an aid parcel of cat toys. The Big Blue Mouse has proved a particular hit and each morning I have to walk to the end of the garden to retrieve the poor sausage. The pointy red light pen is also much admired, and has been chased across the porch, up walls and into shoes.

To satisfy my need for cuddles, I occasionally go over to my friend Pieter's house and requisition his kitten, Igi.

In not quite so fluffy baby news, I also have a tiny praying mantis. I think it might be the offspring of the giant one from last year. It's really active, running and jumping all over the place. Even landed on my neck at one point. I think it's kind of cute.

So, what's been going on since the last update? Well, I've had my fill of being irritated by men. The messy one got a job at a high flying law firm, haven't seen him since. Met another attractive-on-the-surface guy, our eyes meet through the flames of a fire, only to agree to a date we never ended up having because he turned out to be such a pain in the arse over whatsapp. Honestly, sometimes I think there are two completely separate dating manuals for the UK and Rwanda. There's no chance of ever being on the same page, because you're not even reading the same book.

I've given up entirely on that and thrown myself into the arts instead.

This is me last week singing I'm A Man You Don't Meet Every Day at the Iwacu Wellness campfire sing-a-long. I get a little less terrified each week, and I'm now trying to find similar songs I can wrap my (limited) voice around. I'm currently in love with I Am Stretched On Your Grave after hearing it on Peaky Blinders. Obsessively listening to it and trying to get my voice to lap up the licks. I find a good way to get your head around a new song is to listen to it through headphones whilst singing along and recording yourself on Audacity. You can always sing along to something more easily than by yourself, so if you can separate yourself singing it reasonably well, you can then learn from your own voice and it becomes easier to find your comfort point.

I would just like to point out the bonfire... Yeah. The bonfire. Didn't fall into it this time. Yay me.

It is such a lovely night. Every Sunday, 7-9 p.m. at Iwacu Wellness Centre in Kagugu - rain permitting. Bring a song, a poem or an instrument.

One of the guys there is restringing my guitar and going to teach me how to use it. Supposed to pick it up tonight, but not sure I'll go as the wet season arrived last week. Each night we have the most amazing thunder and lightning. The whole sky lights up purple and the rain is serious. I currently have a moat around my house at the moment. Considering introducing crocodiles.

With the first rains came the little flying bugs. When the rains arrive they come out of the ground in their thousands. Apparently you can fry them and eat them, but I just like watching them. They only live for about a day.

Although the rain often rains off events, it's also quite helpful. Houses in hot climates often aren't very well soundproofed - lots of ventilation bricks. At least when it rains I can practise singing without feeling self-conscious, because you can't hear anything over the sound of the rain.

Also went to my first Spoken Word Rwanda (Facebook/Twitter) event. Last Wednesday of every month, but they don't usually tell you where until the night before. It was a really good night. Lots of poets and singers. I'm trying to decide if I could build up the courage, but you get so little notice to prepare for the theme.

@Sturrminator performing #2YearsinKigali

Also went to an excellent book launch. Imagine We published their first book by former Miss Rwanda contestant Peace Kwizera. It's a really lovely children's book. Beautifully illustrated by Inkstain, and really important as there are so few books authored and published in Rwanda. It's also nice because it contains some really strong role models for girls as well as boys, each based on a person Peace knows, such as her sister, who was the inspiration for the pilot. It's just a shame Rwanda doesn't have PayPal so that they could sell it internationally.

Also had a fab time at the new Republika (Repub Lounge) in Kimihurura last Monday. The old Republika used to be an institution. This was the first time I'd been to the new one and it's just as good. The marketing guys for Iwacu run an after work networking event every Monday from 5-10 p.m. The manager, Solange, and her brother were there and we ended up drinking with them until closing. It was a really good night.