There are plenty of beautiful good days in Kigali, but sometimes you just get a series of stinkers that send you into a spiral of depression and anxiety. This post is doomy and gloomy but cathartic also.
Unable to resist the charms of the locals and suckered into committing to a life-long relationship.
Another weekend in Rwanda? Probably involves sunshine, motos and coffee surrounded by spectacular scenery.
Since the last time I posted (in a cloud of utter despair) things have bounced up and down, but the short story is that Jed was successful in getting his work permit (YAY!-ish?) and I'm booked to join him next week (YAY! for real)
In general, what we're looking forward to right now is tackling some of the frustrating and challenging parts of this move together instead of separately from different continents. And while I LOVE living in Jed's parent's air-conditioned basement - with endless gourmet salads, bottomless sauvignon blanc (which I drink at-will), and more Nyika dog-belly love than I can handle - I'm also looking forward to re-establishing a normal daytime routine of actually awakening to sun touching my face and not my alarm vibrating violently next to my face in the dark, where I lay alone and cold and desolate.
Anyways. For Stephanie, it's never too soon to start ranting about all the crap that would be better run under my benevolent dictatorship/advisement. There are a lot of posts about things you can't get in Kigali and by now we all know you won't be able to get kraft dinner or cornflakes for the prices we're all accustomed to, but what about these very important facts of life?
The shitty-ass internet which is getting worse by the minute, defying all logic of progress
Real Estate agents (and potentially other service-type workers) who just don't with the customer service.
Sub-par/unhelpful/uninformed "advice" from expats running amok on Facebook
Annnnd counting down from third place:
3. Expats who don't give a damn.
a. Someone please explain to me the proclivity for expats who, when you ask a perfectly reasonable, specific question such as "Where is such and such place?" respond with: 'oh that place? First you go to this one landmark, then you go around the corner, then up a hill for a good amount of time, and then it's near to the other thing that you may or may not be able to see in the dark."
We now live in an age where drop pins exist. There is no good reason for anyone to gesture meaninglessly and ambiguously somewhere into the distance when every single person, including most Rwandans, own smartphones and can operate google maps. Next time you're tempted to go on a long prosy explanation with an undertone of 'check it out, I've been here longer than you and therefore speak the lingo of landmarks' please keep in mind that when you need an important piece of information from me I may direct you to a place that is not the place you wanted. Especially if it's 'where is that clinic that treats deadly snake bites?' because: haha SNAKES 🐍🐍
b. Your uninformed opinions about serious health care matters? Very uncool and please: big nopes. Some people are mentally at peace with living in a coma with a swollen brain because of encephalitic malaria and/or suffering internal-organ damaging parasites from swimming in open water! But.. caustically laughing at those of us who would prefer not to? I consider that rude. No amount of "I've lived here for a bajillion eons and never once got the billharz!" is going to convince me that it's safe to swim in Lake Kivu, thank you very much.
2. Customer service, it ain't.
Is it too much to ask that the people who are employed by shops, restaurants and the government care just a tiny bit about whether you are satisfied or not? Is it too much to ask that instead of smiling and nodding when you ask a question, people once in a while voice opinions that may be helpful in making decisions? Is it too much to ask that when you point out specific features of a home that are extremely undesirable, people will then go out of their way to be sure that you don't have to go through houses that have those same undesirable features again?
"You need a house? I have many beautiful houses!" said every real estate agent in Kigali, ever. Yeah fine, but where are all the ones that my friends have - you know - the ones that are all plain white with simple furnishings, beautiful views and in convenient locations for just $350/month? Why am I getting shown all the expensive homes with hallways to nowhere, green tinted windows, uneven steps and cockroach problems?
You can laugh at me all you want. I actually created a PDF that had two sections "homes that we do not want" and "homes we want" and it had photos taken from my numerous househunting adventures. Obviously this had zero effect on the homes I was taken to. A house is a house amirite?
1. THE INTERNET OF... NOTHING
Sitting comfortably in Toronto, with my quite normal speed internet, it is a stretch for me to even remember what bad internet feels like. People who have never experienced the dire hardships caused by infrequent, unreliable and incredibly limited internet cannot know the pain involved in trying to upload a single image to instagram over the course of hours.
I remember when I was working at PW and our network would slow down. The IT guy would restart the whole thing and we wouldn't be able to access email or the internet for a few minutes. It felt like literal hell, only mitigated by the ability of all of us to access LTE on our phones to ease the pangs of anxiety caused by disconnection.
This might sound trite to those who believe disconnection is good for the soul, and I might be inclined to agree if only it was a choice and not an unscheduled necessity. There is nothing worse then having a deadline where you need to transfer large files over the internet, only to realize that you have used up your quota of 1GB/day and there is nothing you can do about it. That's if the internet is even working at a level that is fast enough to allow upload. For a good part of the day, I'm running on SINGLE G INTERNET. Which, if you can stretch your mind back into the mists of time, resembles dial-up without the screechy noises.
I like to complain. I also like to point out the follies of life. I am not an unhappy, resentful person, nor do I live a joyless existence. I am perfectly well-aware that all of the above represent white-people problems that denote a life of privilege and soft, cozy upbringings. I write primarily to keep a journal of my travels, not to provide serious insights onto politics or economics. If you find a statement offensive you might want to consider creating a drinking game about it, and if you think this is bad, sift through all my entries on Denmark - you'll surely find something there to keep you plastered for a good long while.
Should we stay or should we go? Sometimes it's not up to you...
A road trip through the hills of Rwanda up to Butaro northern province to check out MASS Design Group's hospital, doctor's housing, and oncology center.
First impressions + a lot of other firsts.
Hahaha! Bet you didn't see that one coming...