It's been almost 2 weeks since we arrived, and already it feels like a lifetime. In these 10 days we've cycled through highs and lows with the constant stimulation that comes from newness and unfamiliarity.
We've taken motos (motorcycle taxis) from one end of the city to another, met many interesting and inspiring people, attended our first Rwandan wedding and (separately) an actual pig roast; we've also raced on bumpy dirt roads through villages honking at people and goats to get out of the way while transporting a nearly unconscious friend with a head injury to a local hospital in rural Rwanda.
We've driven up to Butaro to interview patients & staff at the hospital and tour the cancer center and doctor's housing that MASS is renowned for; lost our breath at the incredible beauty of the terraced hills of the countryside and narrowly missed a head-on collision on a winding, dark highway. We've smiled and waved at children who call out 'abazungu!!!' ("white people / foreigners") when we pass while feeling embarrassed and annoyed by the weight of expectation for money and gifts wherever we go.
We have enjoyed privileged views over the rolling cityscape from rooftop cafes and cursed at the slow internet while trying to watch an episode of Game of Thrones over the course of 3 days. We have felt both depressed at the lack of what we consider basic grocery items and amazed at eating some of the best Indian food we've ever had.
These experiences, to me, perfectly satisfy the almost unendurable craving for something new, uncomfortable, beautiful, frustrating and different that I feel when I've been settled for any extended period of time. We certainly can enjoy a lifestyle here that many locals would never have access to with a secure home, a guard and housekeeper, opportunities to meet highly educated, engaged people and access to elite goods and services.
On the other hand we confront our sense of expectation and entitlement on a near daily basis, understanding that the comforts we take for granted and have felt we can't do without become negotiable and almost unimportant over time. Personally, I come face to face with the helplessness and sense of displacement that comes from negotiating the differences between home and away; but...
For those who don't follow on instagram, here's a gallery of our first few weeks in Kigali: