October 25, 2009

Where Am I?

Using a German keyboard in an unpaved neighborhood outside the center of Kigali. Just gettting the machine ready with a Sim card transferred from a cell phone was a triumph, and I don't know how many minutes' credit I have. I recently awoke from 45 straight hours of travel, Austin-Minneapolis-Amsterdam-Nairobi-Kigali, which included an afternoon walking around Amsterdam. There's so much to report already that I don't know where to start, but the people are lovely, the setting is one of Third World low-rise urbanization familiar to those who know Morocco, Greece, Costa Rica, etc.

I've even now heard stories which are too chilling, sobering, to tell here in a rush. They require books.

Two more weeks -- how will I be different at the end? This afternoon I'm going to church, an English-language service, with Costa. I thnk I'm also scheduled to accompany him to talk to a woman who has HIV as a result of the genocide.If I can't describe such things fully yet, I hope that time will allow me to.

Costa's year-old daughter went to the hospital last night, a problem with digesting breast milk. She's okay now.

Amid all this, things like not shaving and showering,and wake-sleep shedules, and brushing teeth from a half-glass of boiled water, seem of minimal import.

The completely ordinary, and the worldwide problems of economics, coexist here with the unimaginable. Will I be able imagine it after I've heard it? If so, there's the danger of it becoming ordinary: "Oh yes, you told me that story before." A defense mechanism to keep it at safe distance.

Meanwhile, there's fun! Meeting delightful individuals, immediate friends; talking a mix of English and French, and building affection through the effort; drinking East African coffee and tea, among the world's best. Watching TV, which is just like all TV but in a different language. Saw a good Congolese movie last night, though, a somwhat realistic romance-melodrama featuring famous regional musicians and actors.

Fifteen more nights under a moquito net, in a shared hot room where no mosquitoes are seen. Playing with 5-year-old Gentil, who can count to 1,000 in English and taught me how to fold a paper boat and blow bubbles.

See you later! Forgive me if I don't answer comments while I'm here. Later there will be photos and more time to write at length.

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