Tying Up Loose Ends…(150 up!)
November 27, 2010

I’m spending my final weekend in Kigali.

Yesterday morning I caught the 07.30 International Express  from Nyakarambi and at 10.15 I arrived at the VSO office. Two hours later I left, having completed my ‘exit interview’, claimed my final expenses and said my ‘goodbyes’ to the office staff.

Down town I called in at the Ethiopian Airlines office to confirm my flights for next Saturday. All sorted but I can’t say I’m looking forward to kicking my heels for six hours in Addis Ababa airport before boarding the 02.00 flight to Heathrow!

Earlier in the week, back in Nyakarambi,  I had met up with Msafiri bemoaning Arsenal’s mid week defeat in Europe. He also confirmed that he has acquired a vehicle to transport  me to the airport next Saturday morning.  I think he is going to drive me there, which is a really nice gesture, considering it’s a six-hour round trip and Saturday is a busy day for trade!    

I was delighted to log on last night and find that Forest have pulled off two superb loan signings, Marcus Tudgay, a decent striker from Sheffield Wednesday, and Aaron Ramsey, an exciting and precocious midfield talent from Arsenal. Ramsey is recovering from a nine month lay off following a very nasty injury but hopefully during the eight matches, he is available for, he will help Forest cement a place in the top six of the Championship.

It’s less good news for Dexter Blackstock, a striker who I have a lot of time for, who will be out for twelve months following his injury in the latter stages of our win at Cardiff. At least the ‘acquisitions panel’ have moved quickly to replace him.

It’s less good news on the ‘Ashes’ front where England might struggle to come away with a draw from the First Test, down under. The pre series hype was never going to favour them. We don’t wear the ‘favourites’ tag very easily and the Aussies were never going to roll over despite what the media wrote.   

Hopefully things will turn around, as one of the things I’m  looking forward to on my return  is a few late night/early morning sessions of play courtesy of Sky Sports.

There was a rather surreal feeling this morning, sitting in my T-shirt sipping coffee in the ‘Isimbi’ bar as CNN announced severe weather and snow alerts across the UK. As long as it doesn’t interfere with flights I don’t mind, but below freezing temperatures will come as a bit of a shock.

It’s umuganda today so I’m confined to the hotel this morning, hence the opportunity to update the blog, at some length!  According to the stats this is my 150th posting, which is quite amazing. I have to admit I have rather surprised myself at managing to keep it going for that long.

Given this landmark posting and the weather conditions back home perhaps I should have followed the time-honoured Dandy and Beano format of coating the title font with snow and wishing all my readers a somewhat premature Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Anyhow I think at least celebratory lunchtime drink is called for. It’s warm and bright here in Kigali, the bars are opening up now and I think I’s better make the most of it!

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A severe dose of ‘man flu’…………..
November 15, 2010

Apologies to my ‘regulars’ for the lack of postings over the last week or so, principally the result of a severe bout of ‘man flu’ which I’ve managed to recover from with the help of an emergency cache of paracetamol, Strepsils and Lemsip which Dorothy had stashed away before her departure and for which I was very grateful.  

A moto-ride to O Sole Luna

Following my whistle-stop tour of the Volcanoes National Park and Lake Kivu I returned to Kigali and met up with my VSO colleagues who had been toiling through another week of in-country training.

I was running a bit late when I left the Hotel Isimbi and immediately realised that I had not allowed for the Friday night rush hour in the capital city. I decided to forget the matutu (mini-bus taxi) and take a moto. It was quite an exhilarating experience (one I wouldn’t even have considered when I first arrived here)  as we bobbed and weaved through queues of traffic, surging between the static rows, with a hair’s breadth to spare, in order to take pole position at the traffic lights.    

I made the rendezvous with time to spare and we enjoyed a really pleasant evening at a highly recommended Italian restaurant on the edge of Remera, called O Sole Luna, which provided stunning views from its terrace across the twinkling lights of Kigali (no power-cut that night) and more importantly a genuine wood fired pizza oven!

Service was a bit on the slow side, which is pretty standard anywhere – time is not considered important here, but well worth waiting for. My four cheese pizza even had genuine chunks of brie and gorgonzola!

At the end of the evening it was time for hugs and fond farewells with a number of very nice people who I have come to know over the last ten weeks and who I will not see again before I return home. I wish them all the very best for the remainder of their long-term placements.     

A rising temperature but the show goes on!

By Sunday afternoon, and a three-hour bus journey courtesy of International, I arrived back at Nyakarambi with a rising temperature, sore throat and streaming nose. A throbbing head soon joined in and basically I felt pretty grim for the next three days.

Unfortunately it coincided with my first two scheduled workshops which I didn’t want to cancel so I dosed myself up and ploughed on regardless. I wouldn’t recommend facilitating a four-hour session on creating an effective classroom environment as the best remedy but I got through and lived to tell the tale.

It was rather disappointing, given the work I’d put into the preparation, that only 50% of the staff showed up at one school and about 75% at the other. It is the school holidays (for pupils) but I had been led to believe teachers were expected to attend any in-service training that was made available to them. I’m still not clear whether their contracts oblige them to put in an appearance. Clearly some of them think it’s optional or don’t fancy the idea of a muzungu droning on about raising standards for four hours!    

Going Postal in Kibungo & Caribbean curry

On Saturday I visited Kibungo in search of our nearest Iposita (post office). These are a rare commodity in Rwanda. This one, quite a walk from the centre of town, is the only place that sells stamps ‘locally’ and is the sole repository for incoming mail.

None of the properties in Nyakarambi and the surrounding villages has a postal address and there is no postal delivery service so if residents or schools wish to receive mail they need to set up a ‘post box’ in Kibungo.

Periodically they then have to make a bus journey clutching the key to their numbered box with its little yellow door situated outside the main post office building, which incidentally doesn’t strike me as being overly secure.

It’s been a ten week odyssey to find and purchase post cards, and then locate the post office in Kibungo, which of course was closed by the time I arrived.

Fortunately there are two young lady volunteers living in Kibungo who will post the cards for me later this week. Cathy and Louise also kindly offered to cook me a meal and put me up for the night in their ‘guest room’. So it wasn’t a wasted journey.

We had a pleasant time shopping in the local market where they both showed how their Kinyarwanda lessons are paying off as they enquired about prices and exchanged pleasantries with the stall holders who now recognise them as local regulars.

A very healthy, vegetable laden, Caribbean curry (due to the presence of fresh pineapple) and rice went down very well later on Saturday night, followed by a rare treat of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (made under license in Kenya). On Sunday morning they also kindly rustled up pancakes for breakfast I left for home. I must have looked in need of a good feed. Thanks for looking after an old-timer girls!                   

This week I’ve got four consecutive days of workshops, two on lesson planning and two on classroom observation. I’m pleased to say things have started quite well with an improved turn out today.        

Amavubi stars fade as they are stung by Squirrels!
October 11, 2010

To borrow a well worn phrase from an over excited Norwegian football commentator, Paul Kagame, your boys took one hell of a beating! 

In fairness the 3-0 score-line in Benin’s favour was perhaps a little flattering and it could be argued that Rwanda were the better side in a goal less first half. They certainly had the best efforts on goal, including a long-range shot that was acrobatically tipped over, at full stretch, by the Benin keeper and one than came back off a post.

I guess the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali was only a third full, but the 10,000 or so spectators created quite an atmosphere for this African Cup of Nations qualifying game.

Tickets had not been difficult to obtain on the morning of the match, 3000 RWF to sit on the concrete terracing or 5000 RWF (£5.00) for a VIP ticket. This section, either side of the halfway line, had plastic seats and the only shade available in the ground, so that’s what Mark and I opted for.

There were no allocated seats as such and we finished up sharing a row with the local TV, radio and news media which would have been interesting if I could have understood word of their animated reporting.

The game had only been underway for two or three minutes when the whole of the block in front rose to their feet, as one, and began applauding. It was nothing to do with the football, but marked the arrival of the President, sporting a smart/casual look in his open necked black short-sleeved shirt, as he took his seat not more than ten rows in front of us.       

I understand he is a genuine football fan and attends matches whenever he can. I’m sure, given the final outcome, that he will have been disappointed that the Amavubi (Wasps) stars, kitted out in the national colours (yellow shirts, blue shorts and green socks) faded so alarmingly in the second half and that they failed to sting the opposition during a period of ascendency just before half time.

There was, of course, no such thing as a match day programme or even an announcement of the players’ names, although surprisingly there was big screen at one end of ground which relayed the on pitch action.   

The best players on both sides were in midfield and wore the number 8 shirt. Essentially the difference between the two teams was that the Rwandan number 8 struggled in the second half, under closer marking, whilst his counterpart from the Squirrels continued to pull the strings for them.

Benin took control from the outset of the second period and finished with three well taken goals. The first was a speculative long shot, from striker Razak Omotoyossi, which arrowed into the top corner past the hapless Rwandan keeper.

The second was tucked away by Stephane Sessegnon, the afore-mentioned number 8, who I later discovered plays for French Ligue 1 side PSG  and was said to have been on Harry Redknapp’s shopping list earlier this summer!   

The final goal was the best worked of the lot and well finished, by Seidith Tchomogo, following a good build up and an accurate cross in from the right hand side.     

The buzzing vuvuzelas were finally silenced and it was time to follow in the slip stream of PK and beat a hasty retreat to the local bar for a Mutzig (à la pression!) and bit of post match analysis.

*Goal scorers names and details supplied courtesy of the BBC Sports website!

Hotel Des Mille Collines & ‘Mancini City’!
September 25, 2010

Officially, Umuganda finishes at 11.00am on the last Saturday of each month but it seems like a lot of businesses don’t think it’s worth opening for the afternoon only. Unfortunately I drew a blank at both Volcanoes Safaris and Primate Safaris, so will have to try again next time I’m in Kigali.

Volcanoes Safaris travel agency is based at the Hotel Des Mille Collines which has gained international recognition as the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster Hotel Rwanda. However the movie was actually filmed on location in Uganda!

The hotel is a Kigali institution and following recent refurbishment it is now very firmly in the up-market establishment category. I popped in to give it the once over and as I’d had no breakfast ordered a croque monsieur and a flask of coffee.

The croque was in fact a ham toastie topped with a Kraft cheese slice (or similar) but it came with frites and salad which filled a whole. Given that Rwanda is a coffee producing nation the standard café fare is often disappointing but today it was okay.

The hotel is only a five-minute hike up hill from Nakumatt, very close to the city centre and although a typical ‘70s looking box like design it is set in pleasant grounds and has a large pool. I sat in the pool side bar surrounded by Americans, French, Belgians and Brits and have to say I only saw four black guests and they were in mixed groups!

On the way back I browsed in a couple of craft shops that had bothered to open and picked up a largish carved wooden giraffe to add to my African collection. Hopefully  it won’t look too tacky when I get it home!

I arrived back at the Isimbi to find Mancini City v Chelsea was being shown live in the bar. Just what the doctored ordered. I settled down with a bottle of Mutzig and my packet of cashew nuts and watched the game with a handful of locals.

Carlos Tevez won the game with a well taken goal to seal Chelsea’s first defeat of the season. I have a passing interest in Roberto Mancini, the City manager, through an Italian friend, Renata, who Chris happens to be visiting in Jesi this weekend.

Renata went to school with Mancini in Jesi and his parents still live there. She summed him up as being a good footballer but very conceited and not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Her final comment was confirmed when I saw, this afternoon, that he now has David Platt sitting on the City bench as one of his backroom staff.

All Nottingham Forest fans will know that Platty was single-handedly responsible for a rapid decline, from which we still haven’t quite recovered, by squandering a reasonably healthy transfer budget on ageing Italians who never cut the mustard in English Championship. 

He’s also ‘fondly’ remembered for adopting a brand of football that was total anathema to Forest purists!

Forest v Swansea is under way as I’m posting this and surely we must pick up three points today!

23.30: Just back from the Indian meal, at Zaaffrans, to find Forest muted the Swans with a convincing 3-1 win and Glaws took the sting out of Wasps with a 22-20 victory – a double whammy!

Umuganda!
September 25, 2010

Today is Umuganda (Public Cleaning) Day!

On the last Saturday of every month between 08.00 and midday the whole country embarks on communal work for the public good. This can be anything from street cleaning, road repairs, land clearance, planting trees to building homes for genocide survivors.

There is a countrywide ban on road traffic during this period – hence this morning Kigali is unusually free from the sound of buzzing motos and chugging mini busses.

Although visitors to Rwanda are not expected to take part, residents (which as a VSO volunteer I am, at least in the short-term) are expected to make themselves available for work. Technically, if I were to be out and about on the streets this morning I could be asked to show my ID card, which has to be carried at all times, and challenged as to why I’m not taking part in Umuganda.   

Although I will probably get involved next time around, back in Nyakarambi, this morning I’m adopting a self-imposed curfew in my hotel room, catching up with the blog and preparing myself for next week’s school visits.  

It was bliss, this morning, to be able to shave and shower in hot water for the first time in two weeks, although due to the lack of anything as sophisticated as a shower curtain the latter was taken crouched in the bath so as to avoid flooding the bathroom.

Back in Nyakarambi the availability of mains water in the house, which is a cold supply only, continues to be unpredictable due to ongoing construction work nearby. Claude keeps us supplied with a large jerry-can of water, which he fetches from a communal water point,  and which we have on standby. Most mornings it’s a matter of standing in the shower tray and waking myself up by pouring jugs of cold water over my head!   

Later today I’m hoping to book myself a guided tour to the Volcanoes National Park to see the mountain gorillas in a few weeks time.     

I’m desperate for a coffee and something to eat, no breakfast included here, and I’ve just heard a couple of vehicles rumbling by so I’m heading off to the Cafe Bourbon. It’s fast approaching 11.00 am and hopefully I won’t get rounded up for duty on the way!

The *Stella Express* to Nakumatt!
September 25, 2010

I have timetabled visits to both my schools twice per week; Nyamateke (Mon/Weds) & Nyabitare (Tues/Thurs). I intend to use Friday as an admin day to write-up reports and plan for the week ahead. This can be done either at the Nyakarambi District Office , where we have one VSO designated desk between three of us plus intermittent access to mains electricity and unreliable wireless internet, or at home.

The latter is the more comfortable option, but we have told to show our faces in the office from time to time so that our ‘boss’ Telesphore, the district education officer, knows we are round and about and putting the hours in.    

Occasional Fridays can also be used to travel into Kigali to carry out any necessary business at the VSO office which unfortunately doesn’t operate at weekends. This can prove quite difficult for volunteers who are placed in the furthest extremities of the country.

Dorothy is having her ‘leaving do’ at Zaaffrans, an Indian restaurant in Kigali, this Saturday evening. The Kirehe district ‘new recruits’ have all been invited, so having accepted I decided to make a weekend of it.

I secured a pre-booked ticket for the Stella Express bus service, ‘scheduled’ departure from Nyakarambi at 10.00 am. As I walked up into town I became aware that after just two weeks my face is becoming an accepted part of the local scene.

Groups of youngsters, rather than standing and staring, now call out, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ and ask, ‘Where are you going?’  When I reached the town centre a couple of local businessmen we have come to know, Nasim and Innocent, hailed me, ‘Phillip!’, stepped from their doorways and shook me by the hand.

I’m known as Phillip here as, apparently, Phil is a difficult concept. The whole meeting and greeting process is a very important part of Rwandan street culture and I quite enjoy it.

The Stella Express was running 30 minutes late (not too bad). I was travelling with John and we managed to draw quite a crowd of onlookers as we awaiting its arrival.  A young lad went out of his way to be helpful, scrutinising our tickets before scuttling  into the ‘ticket office’ to ensure that our bus was indeed due and that it was on its way.  

Two and a half hours wedged in like sardines, sitting on top of the wheel arch, knees tucked under my chin and cradling a rucksack and laptop was not the greatest travel experience I’ve ever had but that’s how it is here and it did only cost 2000 RWF (£2.00)!

We scrambled out at Chez Lando, a short walk from the VSO office and arrived during the lunch break, so it took and hour or so of hanging around to complete our business. We had come in search of copies of our contracts which are held in the office but needed in Nyakarambi to secure a green card, which is proving a bit of a mission!  I also needed to submit a claim for my recent moto expenses.

Next stop was the Traveller Cafe a down town balconied establishment perched above the street, across from the Kigali Tower (under construction), where it is enjoyable to sit and watch the world go by. We treated our selves to omletti fromage n’ifiriti  washed down with a much-needed Primus iconje (chilled).

Omlettes can be a welcome change from the routine melanje and goat kebabs. This one was served as expected i.e. an omelette topped with cheese and a side order of chips but back in Nyakarambi it is an all together different experience. The chips actually come inside the omelette mixed with a selection of vegetables from the daily melanje and a few chunks of goat meat as a chewy bonus!   

After checking in at the Isimbi Hotel , a fairly central, clean basic room with a mosquito net and shower (21,000 RWF per night) I set off in search of the BCR Bank. Having negotiated the armed guards, there are soldiers in camouflaged uniforms and Rwanda Police (literally boys in blue) toting guns on ever street corner, I managed to cash my first VSO pay cheque.      

Having resolved my cash flow problem I set off post-haste for the air-conditioned Union Trade Centre shopping mall and the prestigious Nakamatt, ‘You need it, we’ve got it’, 24 hr store. It belongs to a Kenyan chain and is the best stocked retail outlet in Rwanda. Urban legend has it that ex-pats wept for joy when it opened!

I was sparing with my new-found wealth but indulged myself in a few treats to keep me going until my next visit. A tube of Colgate toothpaste, a Rwandan Gouda cheese, a large packet of cashew nuts, and a jar of peanut butter and large bottle of water came to 7,870 RWF.

I was sorely tempted but balked at breaking the bank for the taste of Marmite at 6200 RWF for a 125g jar!

Home Sweet Home – ‘Sonia’s House’!
September 18, 2010

Given that everything operates on African time here I suppose our departure from Kigali on Wednesday, two hours later than scheduled – just after mid-day or saa sita as they say here, was not bad!

Four of us were transported to Kirehe District which is in the Eastern Province. John, from Harrogate, is a basic education methodology adviser, and Mark, from Sark, is and education management adviser. Both have district wide briefs and are here for the long haul having committed to two-year placements.

Each district is sub divided into sectors and my responsibility, in the short-term (three months), is to work with just two schools within the Nyarabuye sector.

The three of us are living in Nyakarambi, which the Bradt Guide describes as a ‘large village’ ‘definitely worth stopping at’ for travellers en route to the border with Tanzania, at Rusumo.

It is a hotch potch of shops, a few small bars and an auberge straddling a  busy main road along which passes a stream of pedestrian traffic and HGV vehicles headed to and from the border crossing.

Abdel-Illah, from Paris, also a long-term volunteer, is a basic education methodology adviser for another district and is based in a rather more isolated location about 10km down the road.

John is succeeding Dorothy, who has been in Nyakarambi for a year and will be returning home at the end of the month. John is currently sharing her house which is very close to the centre.

Mark and I are living together about a 20 minute walk from centre but very close to the district administrative office which is in effect our work base.

There had been considerable confusion about our accommodation and VSO only finalised a contract with the landlord 24 hours before we left Kigali. None of the properties here seem to have addresses but we are staying in what is known locally as Sonia’s house, after the previous volunteer who lived in it.

The problem arose because we have a ‘sitting tenant’ who has kindly agreed to vacate the main part of the property and temporarily relocate across the rear courtyard in an adjoining building. This arrangement is supposed to be for 15 days only and then we have been told we will move to another nearby property but I’m not holding my breath! Further to this, when I leave in December Mark will move in with John, in Dorothy’s house – all very convoluted!

We arrived in a downpour and Mark and I were confronted with our furniture which had been dumped by a member of the VSO logistics and furniture department in the middle of our living area. The first thing we had to do on arrival was assemble our beds!

However home sweet home is better than expected. It is a single storey, brick-built, construction with a corrugated roof set on a pleasant plot with a small lawn to the front and a courtyard to the rear. There is a reasonably sized living/dining area with a dining table and chairs, storage cupboard, four easy chairs and a coffee table.

Best of all it has electricity and running water, or did have until yesterday when the water appears to have been switched off because of local construction work. Hopefully it will be back on again some time soon but in the meantime we have to make do with water delivered in jerry cans.

‘Heaven’ as Forest record first win of the season!
September 14, 2010

Today was a full day Seminaire – Atelier pour Employeurs. The workshop largely covered issues surrounding the development of effective working partnerships between employers, volunteers and VSO.

A couple of colleagues have already moved on to their placements, this evening, but the majority of us ship out tomorrow morning. The Kirehe contingent, including myself, are scheduled to depart at 10.00am  for our 2-3 hour journey.

On this, our last, evening together a few of us decided to sample the delights of down town Kigali. Given it is Tuesday it was hardly buzzing and after 9.oopm everything started to shut down. However we were lucky enough to visit ‘Heaven’, a relatively up market terrace restaurant created from local materials by Rwandan craftsman but run by Americans.

We shared a tortilla and guacamole starter and then I had home-made, mushroom stuffed ravioli in tomato sauce accompanied by two large glasses of Mutzïg, ‘the taste of success’, available on draft!  My share of the bill came to 11,700 RWF (£11.70), expensive by Rwandan standards and in relation to VSO earnings, but great as a change from melanje or brochettes na ifiriti

On my return to the Hostel Amani logged on and found to my delight that Billy Davies was also in heaven tonight as the Tricky Trees chalked up their first win of the season, 2-1 at Preston, and their first away win since January. Lewis McGugan, making a rare start, scored both Forest goals and they are now unbeaten in five matches so hopefully this will be the beginning of a good run!

Supermarket Sweep at T2000 aka ‘The Chinese Shop’
September 13, 2010

Today was our last training day, comprising a  final Kinyarwanda lesson, followed by a session on the vagaries of performance management, Rwandan style.  

Emmanuel, our Kinywrandan teacher has been excellent; clear, helpful, friendly and amusing, particularly with some of  his catch phrases such as, “It’s there”  and “Vocabulary for free,” any time there was a derivation, no matter how tenuous, from English or French. 

After lunch we took the matatu into Kigali town centre to buy basic commodities for our accommodation. We have each been given a grant of 100,000 Rwandan francs (£100.00) to buy such essentials as : blankets, sheets, pillows, pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, cleaning materials etc.

19 VSO volunteers descended on T2000 aka the Chinese Shop (for obvious reasons) and spent an hour or cruising up and down the aisles with our baskets. It was all a bit like Supermarket Sweep  (for those who have had the misfortune to have seen that programme!).

Surprisingly, I will be sharing with another ‘Aldridge’, which no doubt will cause some confusion for our employers, and the locals in Nyakarimbi, who will obviously presume we are related!

Together we spent around 750,000 RwF and have placed the rest on hold until we arrive in Nyakarambi as we will probably get better value for money at the local market.

After our shopping exertions we took time out in the Bourbon Cafe,  an upmarket establishment (with 30 minutes free internet for customers) which is  frequented mainly by wealthier Rwandans and ex -pats. One of its attractions is a large screen TV which shows Sky News!

I watched footage on, former Liberal MP for Rochdale, Cyril Smith’s funeral in an XXXL coffin, snippets from the TUC Conference (I think I might be returning home to a winter of discontent)  and that wind and rain are forecast in the UK! 

Tomorrow we have a full day in consultation with our employers and have to be turned out in our best work clothes and most importantly shiny shoes, which the Rwandans think is very important!

On Wednesday we depart for Nyakarambi, in Kirehe District, which is three hours south-east of Kigali, and will be my new home for the next  three months.

Today Suzanne, a Canadian volunteer, has a birthday so we are all headed up the road to celebrate with a few inzoga (beers) at the local which I have just discovered goes under the name of the ‘ Kumusave Bar’.

Cheers, Salut, Ubuzi ma byinza!    

Intore Dancers and Kimironko Market
September 12, 2010

VSO family dinner was arranged for Saturday evening. It provided an opportunity for the new recruits to meet serving volunteers already well into their placements.

There are currently 43 VSO volunteers in Rwanda and everyone enjoyed the evening. There was an extensive melanje and a bar, with two free drinks per volunteer!

However the highlight of the occasion was the performance of the Intore dancers. This type of traditional dancing stretches back centuries, before the arrival of the Europeans.

Selected young men at the royal court received a privileged education and choreographic training in order to entertain their master s and perform at special court occasions.    

The name intore means ‘best’, as only the best of them were chosen for this honour. Traditionally they performed warlike dances with spears (ikuma) and shields (ingabo). Both of these were on show last night.

Towards the end of the evening, after a few drinks, there was an opportunity for some enthusiastic audience participation!   

Today, Sunday, was a day off after a very intensive six days of training. An optional outing to Kimironko Market was on offer. We made our way by matatu (mini bus taxi) out past the Amahoro Stadium, scene of the presidential inauguration earlier this week, to this large covered market.

It was all very orderly with stalls set out in rank and file order, and well defined areas for meat (including live chickens), fish, vegetables, fruit, hardware, fabrics, handicrafts etc.

The locals were very friendly and it was an opportunity for us to put our Kinyrwanda lessons into practice by exchanging greetings and rehearsing the vocabulary for common fruit and vegetables.

Bananas (imineke) are very plentiful out here, as are Irish potatoes (ibirayi) and sweet potatoes (ikirayi). In fact the range, quality and quantity of the produce on sale was very high and the market was also very clean and tidy, in keeping with everything we have seen to date.  

Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda as part of their environmental policy and it has had the desired effect. On the last Saturday of every month, Rwandans are also expected to spend time doing jobs to help improve their community, such as litter picking, and general land and property maintenance work.

It has been overcast all day today, with regular sharp downpours. This afternoon I took a short walk around the local district taking some photographs and meeting a few locals! 

It was great to be able to log on first thing this morning and catch up with the football and rugby results. It seems Forest snatched a last gasp equaliser against Milwall, in a game they dominated (again). A win would be nice, any time soon!

Coincidently, I found out last night that the VSO country director, Mike, is also a Forest enthusiast!  

Gloucester nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in a game they had bossed from the early stages but they let Leeds Carnegie back into the game and had to rely on the last kick of the game by Nicky Robinson to see them home by one point!