Sunday, 15 March 2009


Since my last blog things have started to really liven up. By last week I’d resorted to noticing (and now depressingly noting) the different fonts used on Coke bottles here. I’ve been away for nearly a fortnight and I’m starting to get pregnanty food cravings. So far they haven’t been accompanied by the big belly and mood swings but who knows, 7 weeks is a long time. What I’d really like is a pizza or some Asian food. Apparently we’re out of Domino’s delivery radius here, and unfortunately airmail sushi seems out of the question.

On Wednesday I visited Nkombo, an island in Lake Kivu. It was badly hit by an earthquake a year ago and the government has yet to provide any real help. Every year the British government alone provides the country with £14million of aid, although where it goes is anybody’s guess. Many on the island are still homeless, living under sheets of tarpaulin and little else. The charity has built a number of houses, but I’ve been charged with the construction of a nursery. Rwanda has an incredibly young population, and I get the impression that many have more children than they can handle. The idea of the nursery would be to free up the older children, who currently spend their days babysitting, to go to school or at least do something of more value. The scenery is truly stunning with clear, still water; rolling hills and a town across the water that looks more St. Tropez than

Serengeti. Closer inspection revealed mass-poverty and the town was in fact Bukavu, DR Congo but nevertheless I was mesmerized. The ferry isn’t exactly P&O standard either, although I personally prefer rowing myself over to All-Day Breakfasts. I’ve promised not to publish more pictures of me, but I think this is worth a look. I present to you the most uncomfortable person in the world.

Now my Kinyarwanda isn’t great, some would call it down right shoddy but I know the word for white man when I hear it. There I was, slightly sunburnt, right at the back with the sailors when up rose an apparently hilarious ditty about mzungus. My companion was too shy to translate, which didn’t help my mood. Notice the gap between me and the lady wearing the arsenal beanie, it was not just because of the hat. When her amusement overcame her ability to row I felt a strong urge to see if witches really do float. It was all in the right spirit, but a fish out of water is understandably a little cranky.

Anyway, I had a constructive meeting with the nursery teacher, a lesson in street football and countless more spectacular views before returning in, happily, a different boat.

On Thursday I had my first night out in Kamembe. I know other students spend their time in Africa with gin-packets and streetwalkers but, alas, I’m too chaste for such things. Sam, a 23 year-old from Suffolk, has joined me for a few weeks and we decided to sample the local nightspot. We found a lovely local lager, a few friendly females, but unfortunately no luck on the pool table. I guess I’m not so far from home after all…

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