Saturday, February 04, 2006

Home Sweet Home

My apartment's not really ready, but I moved in anyway. I thought it was about time that I had my own space.

The funny thing is, I never imagined that I would have an apartment here. I always thought I would share a house with a bunch of other internationals. But there are no other internationals here. And I could probably afford a house, but why on earth would I want to live in a house alone? And for six months? And where on earth would I find furniture to fill a house?

Of course, I don't have any furniture for my apartment, either. I borrowed a mattress from a co-worker, which I have put on the floor, because I don't have a bedframe. I borrowed a table and two chairs from the office. I don't have a stove, but eventually I will borrow one from a co-worker. I was going to borrow a fridge, but sadly, that fell through. (So I have to buy one, I think. I'm not happy about this. They cost $300.)

I went to the market for the first time today. Kiosks beside kiosks beside kiosks, with wares spread out in front, behind the shopkeeper, and up high enough that a ladder was needed to retrieve some of them. In the middle of the market was a shaded area with tables where women sold fresh vegetables: roma tomatoes, "celery" (something that looks like parsley leaves), carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, "spinach" (texture of collard greens), avocadoes, pineapples, mangoes, tree tomatoes (I have decided that, after giving these about 20 tries, that I find them unpalatable), passionfruit, papayas, corn, and micro-garlic (they are about 1/4 the size of garlic cloves you find at the supermarket). Oh, and the ever-present bananas. The prices were pretty reasonable, I think: 4 roma tomatoes for 100 Frw (20 cents or so).

I bought 3 casseroles, an extremely cheap pan (made in China), a knife, soap, and a beautiful piece of traditional fabric that looks like it was designed by Roy Liechtenstein. I have draped it over my table.

So now I have food, but I have no way to cook it, and no way to store it. So I went back to the Kivu Sun to have dinner. Who knew that Saturday nights this place is jumping? Gisenyi's a deserted town during the week, but I always forget that it's a resort on weekends. There were so many muzungus that I was almost overwhelmed...where did they come from?? Germans and Brits and Americans, oh my! A Rwandan band was playing...the lead is the Rwandan equivalent of Craig David, and they actually had a couple of really good songs. (I got a special serenade of "Sous Le Vent" by Garou and Céline Dion, for Francophiles who know this song.) Then they started playing strange polkas. Hm.

I befriended the lead singer somehow. He just came over and asked if I lived here and said he wanted to get to know me better. It's odd, but it's normal for me. I have about 20 male Rwandan friends, and only one female one. And it's not for not trying--it just seems like Rwandan women my age distrust me, like I'm trying to steal their men. I'm not doing anything! I went to a women's college! I love having female friends!!

I have to admit that, whether I like it or not, most of these men friends probably want to get with me. But that leaves me with two choices--1) Have no friends and lead a lonely existence for six months, or 2) Have a lot of friends who probably want to get with me, and I get to know the culture. In light of the options, I'd rather go with the latter.

I am very excited to head back to my own apartment! I guess I'll have an avocado for breakfast, since an omelette isn't an option.