Death comes to us all. He comes to me daily.
It appears that the more I travel, the more I realize that, despite the fact that I have read extensive amounts of books and articles about Rwanda, have seen more pictures than you could shake ten sticks at, and have studied many maps, I know NOTHING about this place. NOTHING!!!
Here’s the scoop. For roughly the past week, I (and by that I mean Papa Jean) have been planning to go to the Anderson house on Lake Muhazi (couple hours east of Kigali) for a weekend. Yep, they own two houses here, both with large properties, plus a house in Canada, and who knows what else. Dang rich Muzungus! I was looking forward to this, as many of the previously mention pictures that I have seen are of Muhazi. So I (meaning Papa Jean) planned and prepared, and the day finally came and I had everything necessary. TONS of food (for only two days, but I wanted to splurge), clothes, “swimsuit” (ie. old pair of short w/ a drawstring), medical supplies (who knows what tom-foolery I’d get up too there) and over 30 different keys, because I wasn’t sure which one opened the house. Which ONE??? You mean which SIX!!!!! Yup, there are at least six different keys to get into this place, two per door times three doors, and I didn’t have any full set of two. So I couldn’t open any of the doors, and therefore couldn’t stay in Muhazi. Brilliant! So Papa Jean, Faustin and I had driven for a couple hours to get there, plus a few hours of prep prior to departure, and we had to go back. grumble grumble.
But I never take no for an answer. I searched high and low for a way to get into this house. The windows are barred, the roof is very securely nailed down (not that I actually tried to break in this way, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson!), the doors are padlocked, every wall is thick (plus, no sledge-hammer). It might as well be a fortified castle for all the options I had for entry. So I took no for an answer, ate a few bananas, drank a Coke and then bodily threw myself screaming into the lake. Hold on…bad image there. Allow me to restate that last bit. I ate the bananas and drank the Coke, asked Papa Jean if we could stick around for an hour or so, coerced solemn oaths out of him and Faustin that there is nothing dangerous in the lake, changed into my “swimsuit” and bodily threw myself (with a very graceful dive) into the lake, screaming “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs. As I swam in the gorgeous, warm, croc- and hippo-free lake, I could see the milabulas (opposite of muzungus) shaking there heads and laughing at the crazy muzungu. So, to make things funner (no comments on grammar folks, trying to juggle three languages here), I screamed “I’m a muzungu, and I love it!!”. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of how to say this in French, so I yelled it in English, so no one got it, and just stared at me. I quickly took my leave under that glorious blue(ish) water.
Who knew that anywhere could be so beautiful? The lake (despite having lots of dirt and silt floating in it near the shore) is beautiful, blue and clear, warm and refreshing. It is not very wide, less than a kilometer, I’d say, but VERY long (over 50km says Papa Jean). It is bordered by multiple hills on all side, and as quiet as….death. Nice death, though….the peaceful kind. I wish I had a motor boat so that I could go zooming down the lake from one end to the other (and in typical North American fashion, destroy the environment and the tranquility while I’m at it. Three birds, one really noisy boat). I’ll stick to swimming for now.
After returning to shore (after about half an hour of swimming), I basked in the sun to dry off (in all my careful planning I forgot a towel too), then changed back into my jeans and we headed off. It was here that Death decided to pay me another visit…in the form of a very innocent suggestion for Papa Jean. “Kevin, es ce’que tu desire de condui?” “Kevin, do you want to drive?” Oh…..Dear……Lord. Yes, I do, but no, I really don’t. Allow me to briefly describe the truck for those of you who dont remember from my third post (because Im sure that you have all read it). The driver is on the right, and you drive on the right side of the road. More often than not, it has to be push started. It is a standard (stick is on the left side of the steering column) and no one told me that it is not possible to go from 3rd to 2nd, you have to go to 1st and then 2nd to down shift. Plus the gas gauge doesnt work (never know when you are going to run out), the fuel injector doesnt work well (ie much stalling….wait, no, thats just my driving) and….well, you get the picture. For the picture, see my third entry. Needless to say, this is going to be a long visit with Death…lets hope he doesn’t stay for dinner. We get under way, and I am desperately trying to get used to the truck and not put us in the ditch, the massive car-swallowing potholes or into the pedestrians and other cars. A few hours later, and countless shouts of “doucement!” “gently!” from Papa Jean, we arrive home (Gatenga) and Kevin collapses into his bed and doesnt move for about 5 seconds. He then realizes that that the odd pain-sensation in his leg is his keys digging about 6 inches into his flesh, and quickly readjusts. After that, I lie around for about an hour until the housekeeper (who had been dismissed for the weekend due to my planned absence) arrives and makes me dinner. Darn rich Muzungus!
During dinner, I realize something unsettling. Without any invitation, Death has stayed for dinner. But he has changed from his normal black into something fiery red…pili pili. Dear Lord, Im dying. Pili pili is, I staunchly believe, the spiciest thing on the planet. Just a small sprinkling of it is enough to make a grown Indian bawl. And Madine, in her infinite culinary wisdom, has put an entire pepper of it in my dinner. Oh…..my……AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Funny thing though, I never bought any pili pili. Hmmmm. As it turns out, its Faustin’s fault. When we where shopping for food on our way to Muhazi I gave him a few hundred francs and asked him to buy some vegetables for us while I was buying the potatoes. Apparently he always buys veggies from the same lady and she likes him, so she gave him five (count ’em, 1….2……3….4…..5!!!!!!) whole pili pili peppers for free. And just the one was enough to kill me. Luckily I am made of sterner stuff than that and Death headed home disappointed and shuffling his feet. He’ll be back….probably on my way home today in the taxi bus. Those drivers are maniacs!
From hot and hectic Equatorial Africa, Thank You! You’ve been a great audience! I’m here until September!
Try the Pili Pili, its invigorating!