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RWANDA | Thursday, 14 February 2008 | Views [748] | Comments [1]

T.I.A. means “This is Africa”. When you stumble across some gross inefficiency or feel intense frustration with systems or processes, this is when you declare “T.I.A.!!”

The few things that I’ve been dealing with where I have felt ‘T.I.A.”:

• Not being able to use my ATM card here (plus you can only exchange US dollars, UK pounds, and EU euros, making Rwanda tourist-unfriendly)

• The electricity going off at least once a day and you never know for how long. The office just recently got a generator so that should help things
• Or, like today, the electricity is on but the Internet service has been cut off because they think we didn’t pay the bill, even though we did. So now we have to prove that we did, in fact, pay. In the meanwhile, I’ve been doing squat waiting around for the Internet and for other people to finish up some stuff before going to the VolCon house to use the Internet there. Then, we also have to pick-up lunch because there isn’t enough food there. Anyway, by the time I actually get access to Internet, the whole day has been wasted. Today is soooooooooo T.I.A!!!! The funny thing is that I got more consistent Internet access when I was living in a remote village in Guatemala.

• It rains at least once a day and it is usually a downpour. But just like the electricity, you never know how long it will last
• The weather changing throughout the day. It’s usually cool in the mornings; then super hot and sunny during the afternoon; and then a bit chilly in the evenings.
• Two things that are essential: an umbrella and a scarf

• French and Kinyarwanda are widely spoken with some English so this has been challenging at times when trying to communicate with the taxi driver!

• I take a taxi EVERYWHERE I go. Usually I split it with a friend but it costs between $3-4

…and the most important…
• I knew that adjusting to the food would be a challenge. It’s not so bad, really. The only this…
• SLOW service. It usually takes HOURS to get food. This is similar to “island time”. Sheesh! This is very painful when I am starving to begin with and by the time I actually get the food, I pounce on it!
• There is some tough, tough chicken so I’ve tended to stay away from chicken. I also had an allergic reaction to eating tilapia with mushroom sauce at the hotel restaurant. While I was eating it, my throat starting constricting and then I started sneezing like crazy!
• Between eating the tough chicken covered in a thick curry sauce and nearly dying from the tilapia, I’ve stuck to spaghetti Bolognese when I eat at the hotel
• Two things that are new to me: eating goat and Ethiopian food. Goat is a little tough but in a kabob it’s been pretty tasty. Ethiopian food is just delicious! I can’t believe I didn’t eat it before, knowing that there are a few restaurants in Chicago.

Before I got to Africa, I was worried that I would get deathly ill, contract a disease, get into a car accident, or any number of horrible things. I really didn’t think that I could face being in a deadly earthquake! Last Sunday, when I was at the lake, earthquakes struck the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Rwanda. I didn’t feel it at all as I was in a canoe on the lake. My friends that were on the island at the time felt some shimmers. It was sweet that I received a few concerned messages about whether or not I was OK.

Sunday night I was at a friend’s place, watching ‘Atonement’ (which was an excellent film by the way) when some of my friends received text messages to get out of the house at 10PM because there was going to be an earthquake. Shortly thereafter, we received texts saying that it was a hoax. It was humorous as we were thinking, uhm how can you predict an earthquake?? Anyway, a friend of Paul’s called him saying that her hotel was being evacuated and no one was allowed in the hotel between 10PM and midnight.

T.I.A. with a shoulder shrug.

Tags: Culture




"island time" is lightening quick compare to "mia time." And hopefully you never get to experience the "mia island time."

  tony Mar 4, 2008 7:24 AM

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