IMPANO!

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It is now exam week at school and my amazing headmistress did not put me on the schedule for supervising (I may have preformed a small victory dance in the teacher’s room when I realized my number was not listed) so it was the perfect week to have a visitor! My good friend Heather was staying about 20 minutes from my site to help train a new group of Peace Corps volunteers so she came down to my site Thursday afternoon on her way home. Since Heather is often difficult for people to pronounce she pretty much always goes by her Kinyarwanda name- Impano, which means gift from God. A name like that sets some pretty big expectations but if anyone fits the name it’s Heather!

I met her on the main road and our plan was to go visit baby Remy but just as we reunited a vicious storm swept in over the hills and it was suddenly pouring rain so we were forced to seek shelter. Of course we happened to choose a boutique with perhaps the least friendly shopkeeper in Rwanda who seemed annoyed with our mere presence and often ignored us when we talked to her or asked her questions. The concept of customer service is still foreign to many of the local businesses.

So we had hot milk (and by we I mean Heather- she drank mine since I didn’t actually order one but the lady mysteriously brought me one anyway) and waited out the storm with group of fascinated women and children staring intently and monitoring our every move. Once the storm let up we continued across the road and up the hill to the other English teacher’s house so that Heather could meet the adorable Mr. Remy. When we arrived there was an umbrella and pile of shoes outside of the door, which is usually a sign of visitors, and sure enough Diane (Remy’s Mama) was hosting a small Bible study. Heather and I ditched our shoes at the door and found a spot on the couch while they finished their discussion. About 15 minutes later we prayed together and the visitors packed up their Bibles and headed out. Louis (the other English teacher) was in Kigali for the day and Remy was asleep. We talked with Diane for a while and made an awkward attempt to start a nail painting party (it ended up being Heather painting her nails while all of us watched) and finally she put on a movie on which was a nice way to pass the time. It was actually an American film, in English, but there was a man giving translations and commentary in Kinyarwanda. It was an interesting movie but the obnoxious man screaming in Kinyarwanda drowned out a lot of the English and was just generally annoying to listen to for more than five minutes. 

Finally Remy woke up and we had a few minutes to play and take pictures before we had to leave for our next activity. Since it was chilly out after the storm Remy was bundled up like a little Eskimo baby and I think he looked particularly fetching in his enormous red hat.

After visiting Remy we met my friend Goreth (who teaches math and physics at my school) for brochettes. We had a nice time together and Goreth then walked us back to the convent. It is the cultural custom here to help other people (especially guests) with their bags so she insisted on helping Heather. She claimed it was easy but she is tiny, the bag was heavy, and she looked pretty exhausted by the time we arrived at the church! We stopped at the huge church by the convent and did a quick photo shoot before continuing home.

This is the view from the walk to the convent- the beauty of this country never ceases to amaze me!

The nuns were absolutely ecstatic to see their Impano and dinner was an animated and laughter-filled affair. At one point she told a story about her hair catching on fire when she was grading papers by candlelight and the nuns went crazy- they really (and I mean really) love their Impano! After dinner we played a few quick games of UNO with Mama Jean (the head nun who I call Grammie) but it was past her bedtime and she wasn’t winning (she blames me since I gave her bad cards) so she retired after a few games and Heather and I went back to my room to get ready for bed.

This morning we were up early (way too early for my taste) to catch a bus to Kigali. We made it to the main road by 6:20am and found an empty squeeze bus and the driver assured us he was leaving soon. We climbed in front and then proceeded to wait for the next 30 minutes until he decided to leave. It was not our best choice and we probably should have jumped ship for a different bus but it is like changing lines at the grocery store- you abandon one line and the new line you choose immediately shuts down when some coupon fanatic throws a fit and it turns out you were better off in the original line. I guess life is like that.

We eventually made it to Kigali and we are now enjoying some speedy internet at a coffee shop before heading out to visit Heather’s site. She lives out east and I am super excited to explore a new part of Rwanda and see her village for the first time!

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