Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Days 3, 4 + 5

Welcome back, it’s good to see you. I’m starting to do some real work here so I may have to cut this down to once every 3 days. I’ve been interviewing carpenters, discussing budgets and meeting officials so, unfortunately, I don’t have the time to nanny about on a computer every other night. I’ll be back on Thursday, and make up for it by being more patient with photo uploads. For all of you stuck in England I am delighted to report that it’s 30ºC and sunny. I might even get a British tan if the mood takes me.

Anyhoo, I’ve just had my first weekend here. A lot of the staff work 5-day weeks so it’s all been a bit less hectic. On Saturday David and I went up to Murangi farm. Rwanda is known as ‘the Land of 1000 Hills’ and, as beautiful as that makes the scenery, it’s hardly the place for a relaxed stroll. Something rather sweet did manage to fit its way into the 4-mile walk: about halfway through I found myself with two little girls holding my hands. Anywhere else a parent would baulk at the idea of their daughter hand-in-hand with a red-faced, sweaty foreigner but apparently not here. Anyway I walked for about 400m with these two girls, too shy to talk and occasionally giggling (them not me).

The vast majority of Rwandans are subsistence farmers, so agricultural efficiency is vitally important. The aim of Murangi farm is to teach more effective techniques and, in doing so, allow economic growth and security. For example, a local cow will produce 2-3 litres of milk a day while Murangi can get 15-20. Not only is milk a valuable source of income, in a country where meat is so expensive it can be an important source of protein. In my last blog I talked about self-reliance, and this is the perfect example: the farm is earning its own money and only really needs occasional check ups. Before this becomes too much of a Disney moment, I point you towards exhibit b. Codename Lunch. I didn’t manage to catch on camera the farmer’s bemused look as I cooed and petted his animals but imagine me coming into your home and applying lipstick to a flower, similarly absurd. I’ve been told that guinea pigs are also firm dinnertime favourites, but that just reminded me I’d missed breakfast.

We went out to dinner the following evening with, fortunately, no more culinary peculiarities. The sight of fillet de spaniel would have been too much even for this brave reporter. At home we have lovely food but it does have a rather easy to follow pattern: soup (red, green or brown) for lunch and stew (fish or meat) for dinner, so a trip out was the cause of much excitement. I was warned that the service was slow and David brought a pack of cards along for the ride. This turned out to be a waste of pocket space and my companions were awestruck when our meals came out after a pithy 45 minutes, half of the norm. The food was good, and came to about £20 for 3 (twice as much as a few years ago).

The nights are very relaxed, and when I’m not wading my way through the ever-slower Internet to post these, my entertainment is limited to reading and watching films. I packed my DVDs at the last minute so I’m now left with a mouth-watering choice between Transporter 2 and the I, Robot bonus disc.

I’d take broiled Bugs any day…

1 comment:

  1. Me again. Well done Henry. I was interested to hear what you are eating. If it is any consolation, I too went out for dinner last night, and one of the party ordered rabbit here in Richmond, Surrey! Enjoyed it very much, apparently. SydS