24

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Well another birthday has come and gone and I am now 24. I don’t really feel different but 24 does seem to get me new results when people demand to know why I am single and have failed to reproduce yet. It appears that 23 was a more forgiving age but by 24 I really should get my life together. I am pretty sure the majority of the old women in my village have me on the top of their prayer list since they are convinced I will never find love since I am still single at my age and express no interest having them introduce me to every eligible man in their extended family. I have met a few progressive women lately who have encouraged me to wait until I am at least 30 to marry and I met a feisty young shop keeper who informed me that all boys lie and I should just stay single. So overall 24 is producing mixed results.

The actual day of my birthday (November 9th) was cold and rainy. I woke up early and looked out my window and couldn’t even see the gate 5 feet from my door because the fog was so thick. I promptly decided it would be wrong to waste this gloomy day weather on exercising and instead rolled over and covered myself back up in my quilt. It was my first of many birthday gifts to myself throughout the day. Eventually around 7am I got up to get dressed because it was the last day of the term and I had no idea what time the ceremony started at my school. I texted one of the nuns who teaches chemistry at my school to check the time of the event and she immediately called me to sing to me in French. It was a lovely way to start the day. I went to eat breakfast and a group of nuns sang to me in three languages (Kinyarwanda, English, and French) and they had filled my plate with chocolate squares- another wonderful addition to the morning. I discovered that the ceremony was supposed to start at 10:00am so I went back to my room to enjoy some free time. Around 9:30am it started raining so I crawled into bed and put a movie on. The nice thing about rain in Rwanda is that you can count on it to delay everything by at least a few hours.

After my movie the weather was clearing up a bit so I headed over to school and waited around while they tried to recover from the rain delay. Eventually we started the ceremony and it was nice but a little speech-heavy for my taste. When it started raining and we had move inside I wasn’t exactly heartbroken. I kind of assumed that was it and I would go home soon but much to my despair they managed to shove all the kids into our biggest room (cramming 5 kids into each little desk) and we continued the ceremony inside. Finally, about 3pm, it appeared to be wrapping up. Of course it wasn’t actually done and the teachers and Senior 3 students stayed to share a meal together. Since it was so late in the afternoon the food was freezing cold and I spent the next 30-minutes doing my very best to choke down cold beans and cabbage without vomiting. Eventually I stood up, said goodbye to a few people, and left- that was my next second birthday gift to myself- freedom.

It was a quiet afternoon and then I went to dinner around 7pm. When we finished eating the nuns presented me with a cake (including 24 candles) and a birthday card. It was a very dramatic presentation since they turned off all the lights and four of them came out dancing with the cake held high in the air. It was a great way to end a birthday!

I don’t have a lot of pictures form the night but here are a few:

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