Kinyarwandan basics or: How I learned to kick anyone’s ass in future Scrabble games

Here’s another previous blog post from Rwanda…


Muraho!…Well folks, we made it.

Flying Con-Air was relatively painless (although each frequent flyer gets a complimetary jailhouse tatt) and after 8.5 sleepless hrs we arrived in Nairobi. Despite a 3 hr layover we still almost missed our connecting flight to Kigali…seemed ours was the only flight that didn’t have a boarding announcement.

The flight to Kigali is only about 1.5 hrs and the scenery is breathtaking. Even the cloud formations were stupendous – huge, pendulous, mushrooming columns. We flew over Lake Victoria (HUGE!) and then over the lush Rwanda-scape. On landing we weren’t initially allowed off the plane as a shower started…although by shower I mean a 10 minute monsoon! Although at this time of year this is apparently quite common, and it’s still always a toasty 25 degrees plus!

We then made our way through immigration and met my NGO contact who took us into Kigali proper. I personally think this is one of my favourite parts of the travelling experience. Everything is so new, so alien, so drastically unfamiliar – exacerbated no doubt by a lack of sleep, indigestion from Kenya Airways ‘food’ and too much coffee – that makes one feel they’re having an out of body experience. So the drive in to the centre was fascinating – children crying ‘mzungu!’, women carrying fruit baskets on their heads, the crazy drivers (although admittedly they lack the attitude of Montreal drivers) and of course becoming ever more conscious of being in the racial minority.

So, after being dropped off at our guest house the sensible thing to have done would have been to have a wee nap…however, running on our last reserves of adrenaline we decided it would be a great idea to go apt hunting. So we set out with Charles (local Rwandan from NGO) and our distinctly shady estate agent to view apt’s. As it turned out we ended up leasing one of the first ones we viewed – a really nice 3 bedroom place, a place that is ironically nicer than our Montreal flat. We’re based in the Muslim section of the Nyamirambo district – apparently one of the older quarters of Kigali. Looks like it will be interesting living there – definitely a poorer neighbourhood but will be good to meet more locals and escape the NGO crowd a little.

We also dropped into my NGO office (Orphans of Rwanda or ORI, to meet the team. Everyone seems very friendly, and it’s a nice mix of 2 US, 2 brits and around 4 Rwandans…I also attempted to curry favour by singing the Rwandan lullaby we’d been taught…however, either my Kinyarwandan sucks or the words are actually questioning the heritage of the recipient. The NGO has a nice office that overlooks some of the Kigalian hills, and whilst dropping in I got to personally meet some of the students. All very nice with excellent English!

Our second day was largely filled with trying to hunt down a good cup o’ Joe (yet to succeed but I have a few leads), getting cell phones (numbers coming later) and signing the lease agreement. A large part was also spent just wandering around getting oriented and perfecting our polite-but-firm-fuck-off technique to the hawkers. In the evening the ORI group headed out to a surprisingly swank lounge/cabin…where I got to try my first urgwawa or banana beer…sweet but deadly!

Anyway, time for bed, malaria pill, readying our costumes for the CEO’s and office ho’s party tomorrow, and donning of mosquito net on the bed etc…you know, the norm.

Oh, and to explain the blog title…seems Kinyarwandan is a mouthful of consonants that would make any Scrabble afficianado cream himself. I mean, trying to say ‘mwaramutse’ (Good morning), ‘mubishoboye’ (please), ‘muramukeho’ (good evening) or ‘ibiro by ubukererarugendo’ (tourist office) is hard enough to say sober let alone after a carafe or 2 of the liver-discombobulating urgwawa…

Anyway a ‘muramukeho’ to you all…