Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beer is a hobby here.

I can’t drink any more beer. I don’t even LIKE beer. I’m becoming fully convinced that people here need other things to do. The favored pastime is drinking Primus, or Mutzig, or Amstel, or Guinness (there are only 4 beers here) in a little tiki bar. They’re all tiki bars, complete with huts covered with straw. It’s pretty cheap, too: a 40 of Primus is one dollar. (It tastes like soap, if you ask me. To each their own.) Also, when you order one beer, they automatically bring two. Why? Because they believe that one is too little. I’m not kidding.

The thing is, people here don’t know when to put down their glass. What should be a regular happy hour becomes, for them, a drunken evening. Every night. And it’s never the women. The women are home cooking and tending to the kids while the men spend all the family earnings on liquor. Alcoholism is one of the biggest problems in this country…I’ve heard stories of families starving while the husband/father drinks the family salary…I’ve heard stories of women being beaten by their drunken husbands. It happens pretty often here, I’m told.

Of course, don’t think that they are going to walk home, if they can help it. I have been asked several times to get into a car with a drunk driver. Recalling my episode with drunk drivers before I left the country, I have not hesitated to be the uptight American girl. I’m okay with that. It’s probably a good thing that the roads are pretty terrible--everyone drives slow so their cars don’t get torn up.

I’ve taken to drinking red wine if I can. Wine is almost impossible to find here, and when you do find it, don’t expect it to be a Cheval Blanc. It’s boxed wine from South Africa, and it costs $3 a glass, which is very expensive when you compare it to a $1 mega-beer.


Blogger Raff said...

What's the local brew there anyway?

2/24/2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

Well, Primus is the only really Rwandan beer...companies here have a license to produce the rest.

That said, the real local brew is called banana beer, but it's not actually beer. It's banana wine. It's really strong. It's brown and cloudy. Apparently they make a big pit and layer the bottom with banana leaves, then they throw some bananas in, cover it with banana leaves, and then cover it with dirt for 3 days. Somehow, they then process the fermented bananas into liquor.

Almost every house in every village makes banana beer, but it's made in such a dirty way that internationals with weak stomachs like mine are advised to only drink it at respectable establishments. I tried some in Kigali, and was tipsy after one glass.

2/26/2006 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Morgan, you should read the following article by another Westerner in Africa: It is all about the drinking habits in several Southern African locales.

7/11/2006 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how long ago was this? last i remember, there was plenty of wine available and beer too... like heineken etc... and mutzig... wow, i dont know how u may think that tastes but after a good game of basketball in the 2pm sun, and its a chilled bottle (or two)... its amazing!!! anyway... i hope ur doing good if ur still there... again, still enjoyin ur blogs... take care

2/05/2007 9:09 AM  
Blogger Morgan C. said...

Well, you can find Heineken in Kigali. If you're lucky, you can find Bell, too. But outside Kigali, probably not.

As for the wine, you can buy bottles in the supermarkets in Kigali, but in general, the wine you find outside the capital is the South African boxed wine by Drostdy-Hof (sp?).

4/03/2008 5:07 PM  
Blogger JoGo said...

I was in Rwanda in the summer of 2005 working for a clinic/study that treated women who were genocidally raped. I absolutely agree with you regarding alcoholism. A Rwandan colleague who was a nurse had a brother die from alcoholism while I was there. 12-step philosophy would have a hard time though - the evangelizing is so great that there is little room for other kinds of treatment.

8/26/2008 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My ex-boyfriend is Rwandese I had to leave him because he became violent one time when he was drinking. If he wasn't ALWAYS drinking we might have been able to work it out. Oh well.

11/18/2010 3:43 PM  
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