Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zanzibar is beautiful! And one of the best holidays ever. Explored Stone Town and the beach...Kendwa Rocks is amazingness. Also did the spice tour. Unfortunately my camera died so I have less pictures than I thought I would coming from there, but here's one to share!~

Monday, March 1, 2010


Apologies for not writing more lately!
But I had to share this small personal victory----if it doesn't translate, so sorry!~

I teach very far away in the North and so I have to take the bus back down to where I am. Anyways, I'm tired and really hungry (hadn't eaten much that day)....and was operating on minimal sleep. I was listening to my headphones sitting in the middle seat on the bus (ie not comfortable---the middle seats fold down in the middle of the bus and you are sandwiched between other people sitting lower than them and they tend to move around on curves in the road....and was going round those tough road turns sitting next to a very pregnant lady who looked like she was going to toss her cookies quite soon.

But thankfully, this blog entry is NOT about that~! Whew...and for the record, she did not throw up.

Instead, it's a happier one! So, many many MANY Rwandans say "umva" when they are speaking....it basically is like listen!, ecouter, etc. They do this a lot in the middle of talking. Umva, I want a sandwich/ I am going here, umva, and then i'll go elsewhere....etc. Anyways, there was a man 2 seats in front of me (not on the middle seat like me though, but the more comfy ones) and he was YELLING (not in an angry way, but in a listen to me!!!! way) on the phone (it's modern technology...no need to yell!~) ha, anyways, he KEPT saying UMVA! while yelling to who he was talking to, trying to get whomever he was talking to to come to the right location to pick him up. And in a series of phone calls... i'm going to guess at least 10, if not more, he kept saying UMVA......and so the entire bus started in on a joke and making fun of this guy, parroting his "umvas" ...and he started laughing at himself too for his habit, hanging his head and laughing along too. But he couldn't help still saying UMVA!

so, i started counting the number of times he said it and sharing with the bus. gatanu in a 30-40 second conversation (5 times) sooo funny, but there it is. we all got excitable when he got back on the phone again and waited with baited breath for the next 'umva'...and laughed and clapped every time he said it.

so the entire bus starting joking and said umva in random circumstances like: Umva, did you reach your friend? umva look at that tree! Umva, urumva, murumva (all forms of it) umva, how many times are you saying umva!? and then they said, urumva, umuzungu yarasetse (the muzungu is laughing) and i said: "yego, ndumva! (i understand), urumva!"

It was hilarious way to end a loooong day! But I was happy to be a part of a joke and be able to follow along and laugh with my fellow travelers! So, when I return back to the states and I start saying, umva! you can feel free to laugh with me too.....

a bientot.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Weddings, New Years, Mom visits, galore!

Have you ever stopped 100 strangers before?
I have. No, I am not a super cool inventor or Hiro from Heroes who can stop time. But, I am a fashionista apparently?

Taking Mom to the airport (more on her visit in a bit), I had to put on the traditional dress of Rwanda (mishanana) to go to the wedding of Virgile (one of my co-workers). These dresses are super fancy and very expensive.

But Rosette who is the Administrative Asst. as well as all around super cool lady gave me one of my very own!~ It's cream and brown and as soon as my internet is faster--I will be posting a picture of myself. Timing was too tight for me to go change somewhere else so I had to change at the airport. Well, after careful maneuvering in the airport bathroom I emerged and helped Mom with her bags to the check-in. As I did so, the once talkative airport quieted and pretty much all activity stopped. All people (staff, etc) stopped and were totally caught off guard by this muzungu girl with blondish hair emerging in her fancy clothes...I waved to everyone though and told all Ngiye ubukwe..I'm going to a wedding!~

While I missed the church ceremony, the reception was great (more people go to the reception)! It was in a big hall and both Virgile and his bride looked really happy. So, for those of you who haven't gone to a wedding, I'll describe it to you. First off, there is the wedding wedding that is for 'civil' purposes. Few people are invited to this one and it is in the sector office where the bride and groom are married. But then there is a second part for the religious ceremony and the reception of course. For the wedding, everyone is in fancy dresses and suits...The bride has bridesmaids and she also had attendants that helped with giving out presents etc. The groom also has groomsmen too. There is a main table where the wedding party sits. All of us sat in seats facing the wedding party. All were served fanta and cokes. (I had a citron). Most of the ladies had the traditional dress on, though some others wore other kinds of dresses too. Mostly men were in suits. As with most ceremonies, there were many speeches (though not as many as I had expected). The groom's family spoke first about how proud they were that Virgile had become a man, etc. The bride's family also came up afterwards to speak about how happy they were to gain a son. (This was all translated for me b/c it was all in Kinya!)

They also had a time where the guests were invited to come up and present their presents. I was pretty proud of understanding what was going on with my limited Kinya! The groom and bride lined up with their attendants and were presented the presents which were then put on a table to the side (all were brightly wrapped). Some people gave short speeches before presenting their presents (but not all). Oh, this is probably a good time to mention the fact that all weddings have a master of ceremonies who keeps the flow going. The bride and groom also do the "cutting of the cake" part as well. (No groom's cake though---I guess it's just a Southern thing!~) We got to eat some too! Totally yummy!

The other thing that I should mention is that there were dancers who did the traditional dance. The guys are totally awesome! I have some video that I'll try to put up soon. But they brought up Virgile and his lovely new wife up to dance too. And the mamas! It was fun. I thankfully didn't get dragged up and make a fool of myself once again in the "cow dance." It was a good night even though I didn't get to talk to Virgile--hopefully he saw me with the hundreds of people that were there.

It was tons of fun and I'll post pics as soon as I can!

What holiday do cows enjoy?

Moo Years! Hahahahahaa I know I thought it was fun!~ I'll post about New Years and Mom visiting my village soon (TONS of pics about that one as well)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Volleyball Madness....

Let me begin this blog entry by apologizing for my lack of entries. I’m working on it and one day I’m going to spend the whole day in the office uploading pictures since you all have been deprived and are super upset with me about that. Ok I know I’m terrible at remembering so I’m sorry!!!


But, randomly….I stopped by Amahoro (peace) Stadium on Tuesday because I was lost on the way to a Ministry of Education office to ask about financial aid for students (we’re working on a career counseling book….So I’m gathering resources). Anyways, after meeting a nice Ministry official who gave me a tour, I then met another guy who invited me to play volleyball with his club. With some mild trepidation, I said ok, but that I’m not good (I haven’t played competitively in over a year and am completely out of shape!) So, I should also mention that I am trying to get back into shape as well so I’ve been jogging in the mornings and ran 20 minutes in the morning (I know that’s entirely insignificant to you guys but I’m improving!) So, anyways, whatever.



Found the school gym and met some of the girls and started just bumping around.

And then I had that moment. That “Welcome to a country where you’re still learning the language and now you’ve volunteered yourself for an entirely tough practice in your third language” moment. As I write this now, I am still entirely sore and somehow my ribs hurt? (Probably due to the times that the coach would yell something and then the girls would drop down as would I a few seconds later… and do various sit ups or high jumps). Oh my gosh!


I ran laps for like 15 minutes, And then we ran sprints. And that was the warm up!? Oh dear lord. And we also did drills and what not (fine besides me being tired). But I have to learn how to get my timing down with actually spiking the ball b/c well I always played with boys in beach volleyball and so I’m not used to actually getting to swing. They were like “Murekatete, jump!” I just started laughing and was like, seriously how!?!?!?!?!? It was a 2 hour and 15 minute practice with no water. I’m totally not used to that!!


We ran suicides and played sprint games and also did a drill where I had to pass the ball over the net to the awaiting hands of someone else. Ermmmmm, seriously? I haven’t done anything athletic this entire time?! Then we also did a series of situps and awk push ups (where your butt is in the air but then you bend your arms…at this point I was way too tired to be able to do the real ones). Anyways, at the end we all had to add ab exercises to the circle. And I made everyone do yoga (downward dog to ashranga…talk about hilarious…oh dear lord!) Ha, but it was incredibly fun and I’m incredibly sore and exhausted and deserved to have lost about 3 pounds that day. So, that’s how I joined a club volleyball team (I only practice with them, not actually play games….I don’t think that I will have time with all I have to do in life. But anyways, c’est tout for now.


Au bientot.

Also---if someone wants to leave a comment, that'd be cool, b/c I have no idea if anyone actually reads any of these~


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Uyu Munsi Myiza

Yes, I recently celebrated my birthday. In not only another country but another hemisphere and in another language. I can’t believe my birthday festivities. Oh my goodness, it was three days of celebrations of me. Insanity. But amazingness! Everyone pulled together here to surprise me amazingly on my birthday. I walked around all day and didn’t really feel like it was my birthday. And yet, here it is and 20 people came in and surprised me.


I was prepared for it to be tough to be apart from all of my friends and family. I started the day off bright and early at 7am to try to implement this new patient flow system in the health center. We’re trying to help patient wait time be less and also help guide patients and staff through the process. It’s hard but fun and I now know the colors (we’re labeling and categorizing patients by age and giving them a colour so now I can say ubururu makumyabibiri guino hano. (I spelled most of that wrong but that’s ok ;) Anyways, I’m improving ha ;)


Also- there are some of the most beautiful babies at the health center. They are seriously adorable. There was a one year old the other day with his poor leg broken. But still with a big smile on his face and then a big cast on his little leg. All the babies tend to just hang out and are very docile. The moms tie the babies to their backs. So, all you can see are their little heads popping out of the fabric tied to the mother.


Ok- So, back to the ol’ birthday. So, after working a long day, I was stalled for a fair bit and taken to the soccer field to watch the game and then to get a sambusa (why I just want my trademark daily omelette??? And then yoga and then bed?) And then someone needed a broom (seriously??? Whyyyyyyyy…….) SO I got back to the mess that is my house and then all of a sudden I turn around and I see a glow and there in my mess of a living room, is my counterpart, my host parents x 2 and the doctors and nurses and my two neighbors, Hassan and Solange. Ok, so let me back up. Solange totally lied and said that she couldn’t even hang out my birthday night because her training lasted too long and she couldn’t be there!!! She totally lied via SMS… for reals! Bah, darn I had NOOOOO idea which is what I said probably forty times.

I was sooo embarrassed at the disrepair of my house and the fact that everything was everywhere (oh yikes!~) But people dealt because they know that I'm a junk show ;)


Murakoze cyane! They planned it themselves and apparently I am the first surprise party in my village. Totally awesome, I mean, I almost cried. I couldn’t believe it. I did tear but held it together. All drank fanta and Mutzig and enjoyed the amazing birthday cake. It was so lovely and thank you to my entire village. I can’t believe that you guys came together. We have 50 million pictures and as soon as I actually get strong internet, I’ll post some.


To all of you who are reading this and wanting to be PCVers, never underestimate the power of people to surprise you. It seriously ended up being one of the best birthdays. We all took ridiculous pictures and drank together and talked in our three common languages. So, fun!


Those at home, thank you for all of the facebook birthday wishes and emails too! It really meant a lot. Au bientot.


Monday, May 11, 2009

buhoro buhoro

Well, I've been here for three weeks now and totally still have yet to figure out all the things I should be doing ;) I miss my fellow PCVs soo much! But we will reunite soon. Last week went by so quickly. I've started teaching English and life skills at a secondary school. It is seriously the highlight of my week! I have 40 students...many of whom are my age. Last week I taught them the "Where is Thumbkin?" song we learned in training. I also got them to listen to the Beatles' "Yesterday" and figure out what it meant (oh my kids are totally going to be Beatles and Bob Dylan experts by the end of two years)....but well, the speakers didn't work. So, I had to sing the Beatles out loud (bah to poor singing abilities). Anyways, they loved the lesson. I told them that they could go and NO ONE moved. They wanted to keep going and keep learning. I was seriously impressed by them! So, we kept going....I asked them what they wanted to learn about in class. One boy raised his hand and said, "gender." I was taken aback a little bit. He explained (and was echoed by several others) that they wanted to learn about gender roles and female empowerment issues. I was so impressed by them! So, we're going to start talking about those topics soon.

Sidenote: my house is invaded by ANTS! Everywhere! They got the bread and the precious cheese that I had. So if anyone has suggestions on how to get rid of them without chemical (since where the heck would I get that?) keep me posted! Other than that, not too many other things to talk about. Murekatete is said 50 million times a day...well probably at least 100. I'm getting to be known around here....not muzungu girl but by my name (a step!) Now, I just have to figure out how to communicate more than just the basics. Some kids came by on Saturday and we drew pictures and sang songs. If anyone feels like sending me art supplies, we will most def. use them!  

Oh! And watched the Barcelona v. Chelsea game here. There are tons of Barcelona fans! We went to a place where you only had to pay 100 and then watch it on the big screen. So, there I was, the only girl surrounded by about 400 guys watching this thrilling and insane game...goal in the 92nd minute! Ridonculous! Anyways, lots of fun and made a few new friends. 
Au Bientot

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mr. Taylor Warren---Official Peace Corps volunteer

Mr. Taylor Warren, Peace Corps Volunteer


Ya, um that’s what my official PC invitation letter said. Ha! Well, I didn’t realize that Peace Corps thought I was a man….yikes. Is it my hair? Or the way I dress? Do I have a weird manly voice? Ermm……hope not?


Ha, anyways, ntakibazo, narasetse. Ubu! Ndi umukorerabushake wa Corps de la Paix! So, excited! Moved already to site and ndishimye cyane! Had meetings with officials here who were very nice and seem to be excited for any kind of project we want to start which is pretty cool! So, yesterday went to three health clinics and a hospital in the region. So good and got to hang out with kids and play games and sing songs (trying to remember Kinyarwanda as much as possible, they were totally testing me on stuff too, which is exactly what I need!). It was so fun. They were at an orphanage in my area (well had to drive far to get there) and they drew me pictures and we all talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. 2 hours flew by and I really hope that I get to go back again. The girls all wanted to be various things. Teachers, nurses, doctors, and wait for it----one day President of Rwanda! They’re so motivated in their studies and I was so proud to meet them. I hope I can come back and visit them more. They kept saying ejo, ejo! And I couldn’t see them the next day but hopefully soon! I’ll update you on stories about them too…


Wait- let me back up----- So, we have two host fams. Which is pretty cool. We got to go to a baptism party for my adorable 7 month old sister. She is sooo cute. Ahmed was able to take some pictures. Anyways, there’s this dance that all the women do that supposedly makes you look cow-like (a good thing ladies----) Anyways, my host mom totally grabbed me up and made me do it. I have no idea how red I got, but I’m sure I did not get to look cow like. You put your arms out and sway a bit and well my sway was more like a What do I do!??!?!?!? The RED muzungu looks like an idiot?! But everyone clapped for me trying, and I totally died laughing too. But it was such a good time (had 3 fantas---so tasty. Tip: if you finish your drink, they will bring you another one, so if anyone goes to a Rwandan party---drink slowly unless you want be like me with 3 fantas---I wanted all of them and they were good but maybe you don’t want that much sugar ;) Anyways, tons of fun though and got to meet more people! Everyone is so impressed that we are at least trying to speak their language (though I’m totally at the stage of butchering it ;) Oh and they love my Rwandan izina, murakoze Kassim. Nitwa Murekatete which means “one to be cherished.” They all seriously crack up when I say Nitwa Taylor cyangwa Murekatete. But that’s what people call me here. Taylor is hard to say so it’s my Rwandan name or umuzungu. I prefer my Rwandan name, so hopefully umuzungu will subside.


Also, last night my other host mom had a surprise birthday party. Which I was totally late for. In the field til 6 and then well----yikes. Ok, so I’m pretty tough. But there’s one thing that I just cannot handle. And that is: mice/rats. Ok, they’re gross and I can’t handle it. Bugs any day---whatever. I’ve killed 20 mosquitoes (I also have 22 bites right now---so I think the mosquitoes are winning?), 2 spiders, a big thing that I have no idea what it is, etc. But mice?! I screamed and yelled and said some words I should regret and ended up somehow standing on a chair. I just saw something big move from under my bed. MY BED!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, we don’t know where it went but somehow it came out of my room (so says Ahmed). The theory is that it went under the door of the outside (big gap) so we’ve now duct taped it shut (every future PCV should remember to bring duct tape, it’s important!!). So hopefully no ROUS’s (point if you know what that is).


Anyways, the surprise bday part was also tons of fun and got to see their wedding video (adorable) Talked to a couple of PCVs on the phone and then tried to sleep hoping that a rat would not crawl in my hair (it’s on an episode of SATC and has since freaked me out). Update: it didn’t crawl in my hair---but I remain vigilant!