I have been out and about a lot in the past week. Fully recovered now and friends in town. This is the lovely Antonia, who I first met in 2007 when I was fresh off the boat and living in a little roundhouse in Kisimenti. She turned up at the gate with another VSO volunteer, Karen, both working with the Deaf community. I was a newly-arrived sign language interpreter here to support the development of Rwanda's first dictionary of Rwandan Sign Language. The VSO community is strong and many of us have stayed in touch all these years later.
Antonia sometimes pops back to Rwanda to catch up with friends and visit ongoing projects. It was a real pleasure to see her again, it's been many years. Plenty to talk about over lunch at Kiseki.
|Kiseki Green Tea Ice Cream|
Had a lovely evening at Harris's lodgings, which is also an Indian restaurant with a pool. It was dark, so no decent photos, but I hope to go back for a swim if it ever stops raining. We chowed down on malai kofta whilst watching El Camino, the Netflix follow-up film to Breaking Bad.
Also had a lovely lunch at Kigali Heights with the Kigali Entrepreneurs Forum, which is an informal business network. We meet at a different restaurant each month to chat and share business information.
In between all that, I went for a tour of a local health centre that's opening in January. I'm waiting to start a contract with two survivors organisations, and this is one of their projects. It's really impressive and I got to look inside an ambulance.
There's some interesting things about ambulances. To keep down noise pollution, they're only allowed to use their sirens at blocked junctions. Someone said they can be fined otherwise. This is maybe an okay strategy in cities, as none of the houses here have double glazing or any form of soundproofing, but it's tricky out on the country roads where they come tearing past in an emergency, but you don't hear them coming, so you only know if you happen to glance in your mirror. Sometimes feels like they're trying to drum up business.
A friend asked me why you'd need a siren on an ambulance, and I explained how in the UK, when people hear a siren, they know an emergency vehicle is coming, so all the cars pull over and stop to let it pass. It makes the response time much faster and avoids accidents.
Someone said, 'But it's the same with the president's cavalcade. It doesn't use sirens either.'
But the president's cavalcade, when it passes through town, radios ahead to the police who stop all the traffic. They don't need a siren to warn someone they're coming because there's nothing in the road to hit.
It's an interesting balance between wanting to keep noise pollution to a minimum and wanting to keep people alive - both patients waiting for emergency help and those who might accidentally get in the way of a speeding emergency vehicle.
There was also the issue of equipping the ambulances, which is very expensive. Currently, the three ambulances above are sharing one defibrillator because they cost around FRW 3 million each (around £2,500/$3,300). And that's just one piece of equipment you need for an ambulance.
It was very interesting to learn about the challenges faced by emergency services, and to look around the health centre. It's going to be an interesting few months and I'm looking forward to visiting projects in the field again, which is something I haven't done in a few years.
Had another nice night out with Harris, checked out a restaurant we hadn't been to before - Billy's Bistro at Century Park. They do a Fancy Friday and it's very fancy and very yummy. Shiny menus. For under 10,000 you get a starter, a main and dessert. We were even treated to an extra dessert - chocolate mousse and cheesecake. Great atmosphere, view of the convention centre, friendly staff and live music. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Excuse the excessive pictures of table tops, but they've decorated them to look like old shipping containers and I thought it looked really cute.
Then, last night, we headed over to see Andy and the gang at White Club, the new name for former Pacha Club/Metallica/Rosty VIP in Kimironko (places round here change their names a lot). Viva Beats is a tradition for us. I'd say they're the best live band in Kigali. Seriously talented group and a real music hall atmosphere. They don't start until late on a Saturday, but the place is always jumping by the end - so many people dancing to an infusion of rock, modern pop, Congolese and East African influences.
They live to spread happiness - it's always an endorphin rush. We stumbled home in the early hours. Three straight days of drinking and enjoyment. Having an exquisitely lazy Sunday today, doing nothing of any importance. Might tidy up a bit later, might not. Time for another cuppa tea.
After a shitting awful month, things are slowly returning to normal. Health is immaculate, still haven't found Gizmo yet but not giving up hope, and my relationship has been salvaged. Was a bit rocky for a moment, but thanks to a three-hour time difference between here and Shillong, we were both awake at stupid o'clock in the morning one night. He texted and we started talking. We're crazy about each other, and I guess that sort of crazy can absorb a few mistakes. I just can't wait for him to get back - another two weeks. Long-term readers will know it's been over a decade since I tried an actual relationship, and that didn't go so well. It takes a while to adjust to having someone else in your life, being vulnerable, insecure, trusting each other and getting to know one another. Not to mention the difference in our living arrangements and lifestyles (his pristine house and full-time staff, my rather untidy, self-catered bachelorette pad with cats). Yes, we've been friends a long time, but drinking buddies. There's still a lot to learn.
But I'm looking forward to it. I'm very much in love and excited for the future.
I'll leave off with a lovely picture Harris took of the bonfire at Jo's place the other day.