Kyla Pearson's Blog
June 19, 2007 — Motorcycle diaries
Sunday morning I got called into work to finish recording the script for an HIV/AIDS documentary I am narrating. When I say morning I mean 11 a.m., however, given the merriment of the night before, it felt a lot earlier. But I got to the studio, read my piece, and with time to spare before my parents flight was due to land, I headed to Bourbon Coffee Shop to feed my caffeine addiction. My dear friend Abdi, the café’s manager with whom I was on a first name basis by about day two, hooked me up with a grande cappuccino in a take away cup so I could enjoy it en route to the airport. As taxis are infamous for quoting inflated “muzungu” prices to foreigners, I asked Abdi what price was reasonable. He said, “don’t pay more than 2,500 Frw (about $5).” I took him at his word and confidently made my way to the taxi stand. Now, the key in bargaining a price is being willing to walk away – either they will come after you and agree, or you just keep walking. Well, apparently 3,000 Frw is a fair price for the airport because I definitely just kept walking until, with delicious coffee in hand, I was along the main road, time was running out and taxis were sparse. So, I made a decision and flagged down a trusty green-helmet-and-vest-clad motorbike driver to get me to the arrivals gate.
While I have ridden many-a-moto since arriving in Kigali, I generally like to have my hands free so I can hold on for dear life. This trip however, with my to-go coffee in hand, I epitomized Rwandan Yuppie. Although I am not proud of myself, I do think it must have been humorous to see a young white girl on the back of a moto in the heart of Africa sipping a $5 coffee.
Then yesterday after work, while waiting to hear from my parents, I went for a drink with a colleague. As so often seems to be the case, one drink turned into a few drinks and before I knew it, it was 9p.m. Eee! Late dinner it is! So I jump on the back of yet another moto – “To the Novotel!” Mid ride, my trusty chauffeur decides to start text messaging. I may not have even noticed had we not started to swerve all over the road as he tried to type a message, which I’m sure couldn’t wait. All I thought was “hmm. So, this is how I die.” Thank you to Amstel beer for keeping me calm.
The point of this story?
It’s funny how things you would never do at home all of a sudden become a-ok “when in Rome.” Before leaving, I swore up and down that I would not be riding on the back of a motorcycle to get around. Never mind the potential for head lice when wearing a communal helmet; everyone knows motorbikes are dangerous – at least more dangerous than cars. “City buses and taxis for me,” I affirmed… Ah, how quickly I forget.
June 5, 2007 — Close your mouth. Open your mind.
There are few things in life I love more than food. I have never been a particularly fussy eater, nor do I shy away from the challenge of trying something new. If there’s not even a chance that it will make you sick, what’s the fun? For the most part though, Rwanda has been a safe culinary adventure. The local cuisine is familiar and delicious, but the same cannot necessarily be said about local interpretations of foreign delights.
Please, allow me to elaborate –
On our way to track the great mountain gorilla, David, Cynthia, Melodie and I made a quick stop for an early morning nosh-up at a nearby resort. An elaborate breakfast spread was calling my name – “Kyla… Kyla…” – The sweet smell of bacon made my taste buds erupt. Breakfast meat is one of the few things I miss from home – Saturday or Sunday morning, after a night of debauchery, I consider bacon grease to be a means of survival. A morning following hours of battle dancing at New Cadillac is no exception. However pork products are a hard thing to come by here, so as you can imagine, I was thrilled… But, on that faithful morning in Ruhengeri, my gag reflex fell victim to a cruel cultural difference. I opened my mind as wide as I could, but that bacon never came anywhere near my mouth.
If I may now let a picture do the talking…
May 30, 2007 — Blogging
on Rwandan time
I must confess that
I am both shocked and ashamed that nearly a month has past
since I left Canada and this is my first blog. I have no good excuse
for my negligence except to say that it has been an amazing
adventure and the days have been passing too quickly to
spend time typing. Today,
however, I vow to reform myself into a blogger extraordinaire!
Now, where to begin?
Rwanda is fabulous! The people, the culture, the history – every
second has made for a memorable experience. When I
think about the perception I had of this country before I
left home, it makes no sense up against the reality I am
now living. Forgive me my ignorance, but the truth
is before I got here I thought of Rwanda in terms of genocide,
Don Cheadle and gorillas in the mist. I must say though,
in all of my travels, I have never felt so safe and so comfortable
so immediately. Language has been only a minor problem,
as most people here speak either French or English. I
am trying my best to learn Kinyarwanda, however, it is proving
to be fairly difficult. I can get through my hellos
and how-are-yous just fine, but anything more sophisticated
and I am lost. French, however, has been the most exhausting
process. It turns out that muscle has virtually atrophied
in the years since high school. But I am happy to report
that it is coming back to me – the majority of people
at Rwanda Television are francophone so I have ample opportunity
Speaking of TVR, after a week’s delay I am fully installed
as the intern and hard at work. Last Monday marked
my first day at the studio, and while I am meant to be working
with the Morning Show, their haphazard shooting schedule
means that I will have a chance to accompany reporters out
in the field. Sadly, however, I have recently learned
that I will not be appearing on television, which dashes
my dreams of one day being to Rwanda what David Hasselhoff
is to Germany. I have always admired the Baywatch star’s
ability to confine his fame to such a small demographic. I
had hoped that I too could win the hearts of 9 million some
Rwandans. I guess that dream will have to wait. Luckily,
though, the dream of two-hour lunches, affordable beer and
$1 motorbike rides is alive and well.
Stay tuned for upcoming tales of
adventure and debauchery…