It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas already! I keep saying Rwanda really messes with your sense of time, and the Rwanda Time Warp has claimed its next victem: the holidays. It doesn’t feel much like Christmas. There are no Christmas trees. There are no cookies. There is no nip in the air or talk of snow. There’s no sense of building anticipation. I miss all the get-togethers among family and friends.
On the other hand, there are no long lines at stores. There are no commercials bombarding you on television for holiday sales. I have not been listening to pop artist’s bad versions of Christmas carols non-stop on the radio and in stores for the past five weeks. These aspects of the holidays I’m happy to be away from!
In Rwanda, people go to church to celebrate christmas and have a big meal with their families. They do not give gifts to one another, but they do make an extra contribution to the church. I’ve been told there are Christmas trees, but I haven’t seen any. There are really no signs of Christmas other than people talking about going to mass.
However, my fellow PCVs and I are determined to keep the American holiday spirit alive. We’ve arranged get togethers with our closest neighbors to celebrate Christmas. I’m staying in the Western Province near Lake Kivu to visit some friends from my training class. Then for New Years, all 32 of us are taking over a hostel and celebrating together. I’m excited to see everyone again even though it will have only been two or three weeks since seeing them last!
In other news, my integration into my community continues to progress. I’ve visited the basket-making association, the card-making association, and the local English club. After New Years, I’ve been invited to visit a nearby plum plantation with the farming association and to go to their banana growing workshops. I’ve made a new friend my age, and I’ve started giving computer lessons everyday. So far, so good!
The only big excitement this week came when I woke up to find a bat in my bedroom! Not having any clue what to do when there is a bat in the house and also not knowing the word for bat in Kinyarwanda, I found a bunch of men doing repairs to the school and just said, “Ummm, there is an animal in my room.” They looked at me quizically and wanted to know what kind of animal, to which I just shrugged my shoulders. So these four men each grabbed big sticks and, with an assortment of other people who we picked up along the way, we all paraded back to my bedroom where they proceeded to grab the bat with the sticks and carry him outside. Crisis Averted. I’m pretty sure they all deemed me to be a wuss since I couldn’t take care of a little bat by myself, but we’ll just add that to the list of why abazungu are weird. I still have no idea how the bat got in or how long he had been there, but I hope that is the last of my animal adventures for a while!
In conclusion, I just want to say: Nkwifurije noheli nziza na umwaka mushya wa bibiri na cumi na gatatu. I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year in 2013. Please eat a candy cane, devour some cookies (or hurl them at inflatable christmas decorations ;)) and drink some champagne for me!