Saturday, 17 February 2018

Fun Guy

Well, it's been almost a month since this wee fella found his way into my garden. We've got potty training and cuddles down to a fine art. He's growing fast and has at last been accepted by my other three. There's a bit of a bromance going on between Gizmo and Howl, who is a big soft-hearted daftie. They chase each other round the garden and play-fight a lot.

Gizmo's only about nine weeks old, so too little to stay out with the others at night, but he's already proven his hunting prowess. He's caught a couple of large lizards and even a mouse. It makes me sad when they  do that, but once they catch something, no amount of milk or coercion can get them to release it. At least it's put me in good stead with my neighbour, who's grateful for them keeping the rats out of her shop.

He even leapt to my protection the other day. He was asleep on the sofa when the one and only big spider I have ever seen in Rwanda wandered in. Big insects just aren't really a thing in Kigali, except the occasional praying mantis. This is by far the largest I've seen. Its body was about the size of my thumb. I think it followed an ant trail under the door, looking for a meal.


Not even as big as the ones you see back in the UK, but quite possibly related. I felt quite privileged to have seen it. Unfortunately, she found her meal in the middle of my living room floor, and five minutes later Gizmo woke up. After blinking sleep out of his eyes, he pounced at it, shook it, and sent it flying across the room into my leg. I may have given a little 'eeep' at that point, but couldn't locate it after that. Thankfully, I saw it the next evening wandering across the patio, so scooped it up and relocated it somewhere without cats.

This little guy at CasaKeza would have made short work of a spider like that.

Turns out it wasn't the only giant thing in my garden this week. I walked out, the morning after returning from Akagera, to see a white splodge in my vegetable garden. I assumed it was probably a bag or something, left by the builders who have been renovating the compound. I walked past it a couple of times before going over, only to discover it was a massive foot-wide mushroom.


Apparently it's termitomyces schimperi, related to the biggest mushroom in the world, which can be found in West Africa. They say it is edible, but it looked too cool to cut up, and now it's a bit past it. They're also farmed by termites. Nature giveth and it taketh away - the same blighters that cut down my papaya tree before. 

I've been a bit quiet lately, settling back into the New Year. I'm currently recovering from the mother of all colds. Had a red-raw throat the past few days, and exctoplasm coming out of my nose. Just ordered an Indian takeout to celebrate still being alive. 

A lot is already going on this year, quite a bit of it requires some adjusting to.

A couple of close friends are leaving Rwanda, including Lynette, who is my go-to tennis-watching buddy. We met over the Australian Open last year. She's a die-hard Nadal fan and I'm a Federer junkie. Last year it was a Federer Nadal men's final so you can imagine the tension. Looked set to be the same this year until Nadel went out with an injury. We still got together for the final, though. Started out at the Manor, but the atmosphere wasn't quite right, and no bar snacks, so we decamped to our sports bar of choice, Pili Pili, for sambaza and salmon  pizza.

The Manor AO Final
Anyway, it makes me sad to think I'll be watching Wimbledon at the bar on my own this year.

Alongside that, Maia is also leaving. Now that Victor is managing the bar and restaurant, she's decided to start a new adventure in the UK. It's fair to say Maia is one of my closest friends and I'm going to miss her heaps. As much as I want to lock her in the cocktail cart and say 'No, don't go!' I also understand her need to explore other places. She's lived in Rwanda for the past eight years, and it's time.

But my circle of friends is starting to shrink. Jo is a lot more busy nowadays than she once was, and others, like Harris, are fabulous people, but only here for part of the year and away the rest. Such is the nature of expat living. A lot of people come, a lot go. After a while you get a bit tired reintroducing yourself, but I guess I'm going to have to make the effort. 

In other news, Jo has introduced me to my new favourite restaurant, Kiseki. They run an all-you-can-eat buffet for FRW 5,000 (£5). I held two meetings there last week and splashed out on a traditional Japanese dessert, green tea yokan. It has a texture like Goan bebinca, but slightly grainier.

I've got a lady staying for the next few months whilst she interns with GIZ. I took her for a wander around town on her first couple of days, including the top of Ubumwe Hotel. The views are incredible.

(panorama, click to enlarge)

Rooftop of Hôtel des Mille Collines (Hotel Rwanda) in the foreground.

Kigali City Hall

They even have a pool on top of Ubumwe, but it's only for guests, so we headed for a quick drink by the pool at Mille Collines, which is always an unsettling experience for those who remember the scene in the film where people were reduced to drinking from it.


Mille Collines

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