Today has been a quintessential rainy day. My alarm went off at 5:40 this morning, and outside my beautiful view of the mountains was obscured by swirling gray fog. The last thing I wanted to do was lace up my running shoes and go for a jog; I really wanted to make a big mug of tea and listen to the radio before going to work at the library. Feeling guilty that I didn’t make it out for a run yesterday, I quickly donned my running clothes and headed out the door before I could climb back into bed.
The first mile of my run felt pretty sluggish; the damp and gray was not inspiring my legs to move fast. Suddenly, I rounded a bend in the road and emerged up above the fog. As I looked east, I saw the sun rising orange above the mountains, which peaked out from above the fog. The clouds were so smooth stretching out between the mountains it looked like a lake had magically filled in the valleys. It was beautiful, and I am so glad I forced myself to leave the house this morning.
One morning, I should really take my camera out with me so that I can capture moments like these or the general splendor of the spectacular pink and orange sunrises that usually grace my runs.
Not 20 minutes after I got home, a huge storm rolled in down from the volcanoes in the north. It amazes me how fast storms sweep across the countryside here in Rwanda. One minute it is warm and sunny, the next minute the temperature drops 15 degrees, the wind starts howling, and you know you better book it back home to close your windows as fast as you can. Too many times I’ve gotten caught in town during a torrential rain to find my bedroom floor in a big puddle of water and my laundry still hanging totally sopping on the clothesline out back.
This morning I got the best of both worlds- I got in an exhilarating jog before sipping the cup of tea I had originally craved tucked away from the cold. Five hours later, it is still absolutely pouring. The air is still thick and soupy, and I can’t even make out the outlines of the mountains across from my bedroom window. It’s the perfect weather to lounge in sweatpants and read books all day.
One of the best things about Rwanda is that relaxing and reading is exactly what you are expected to do on days like these. In America even if it rains, you still get in the car and go about your business. Here everything shuts down. No one goes to work. Students stay home from school. Mothers put on big pots of tea, and everyone does nothing.
I’ve put my time to good use reading Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn. The New York Times columnist and his wife tell countless, heartbreaking tales of women around the world and examines the many challenges that women in developing countries face every day. From sexual slavery to inadequate maternal care, this book really puts life into perspective. It’s especially raw since I am living in a developing country. During the genocide rape was used as a tactic of war; women still face dangers during pregnancy, etc. Although the information is hard to stomach, I think it is an insightful and important read.
This book is definitely inspiring me to learn more about the role of women in the development process. Peace Corps has many different committees to focus on certain issues, gender and development among them. I hope to go back to the health center in my village for a more in-depth visit over the upcoming school holidays so learn more about some of the issues that my female neighbors currently face. Maybe in the future when some of my current projects quiet down, I can find some way to get involved in this matter.