Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Springs, Circus Performers, and...a Never Nude?!

(Pictured Here: Rwandan Circus Performers in Gisenyi.)

Wow! These past few weeks have been very busy; since IST, the time has just been flying by.

Since my last entry, Halloween has come and gone. A group of us decided that it would be cool to get together in Rwamagana and celebrate. Rwandans don't recognize this fun holiday, so we were on our own; we came up with our own decorations and costumes. It was rough. We didn't even have pumpkins! We had to carve green peppers. Ha! Okay, well, we didn't HAVE to do it, but Brandon thought it would sorta did.

The day before the party, Brandon and I decided to visit the market in Rwamagana and see what we could buy to create our own costumes. I ended up buying a 'fighter pilot' jacket I found. I decided I would slick my hair back, wear aviators, and chew gum...thus, 'Iceman' from 'Top Gun.' Brandon bought a bunch of Rasta clothing and decided to go as 'Rastaman.' Emily got REALLY creative with her costume and created a whole butterfly outfit which turned out really nice.

Malea and Tom came into town the day of the party and visited the market themselves. Malea already had a costume (a tourist), but Tom was still searching his heart, and the used clothing piles, for just the right costume. Tom settled on buying two blouses, one of which looked suspiciously like a cape, and wore them in such a way that his appearance resembled that of a street walker...I mean, a night walker...or...a walker of the night?...arg...he looked like a vampire (not a prosti-dude) is what I am trying to say here.

Malcolm attended the Halloween party too. He, like Tom, also took risks regarding his costume. Malcolm came dressed as a 'Never Nude,' a very fictitious and hilarious psychological affliction made famous by the show 'Arrested Development.' Kara and Crissy (overhearing Brandon's disgust for 'those girls back home that dress as 'sexy cats' every Halloween') dressed as 'sexy cats.' Brandon foolishly thought he would finally attend a Halloween party that had no 'sexy cats' in attendance...wrong!

It was a really cool night; the weather was perfect, the food was great, we had a fire going, and there was plenty of beer to be had. (AND...we had 'sexy cats!') Good times.

In work related news, the HIV/AIDS mobile testing units have finished their rounds. We tested almost 2,000 people, which is awesome; those people testing positive with HIV have been put into our counseling program and have started their ARV treatments. Some of these people have even joined some of the cooperatives (established by the health center) to raise money to help fund their treatments; these cooperatives mainly raise and sell goats. These cooperatives also serve a social function: as a support group for themselves and as an awareness group for schools, churches, and such. The newest health campaign was started this week: getting children vaccinated for far, so good.

Switching gears and traveling back in time, the last two weekends were pretty cool. On the weekend of November 6, Brandon got the urge to explore the country a bit. He asked me and Malcolm if we were interested; we said 'yes.' The three of us decided to go to Gisenyi. Gisenyi is a Rwandan border town (next to the Democratic Republic of the Congo [D.R.C.]) in the Northwestern part of Rwanda; Gisenyi is on the Northern beaches of Lake Kivu.

We arrived in Gisenyi on Friday night. The next day we began to explore the city. We immediately stumbled upon a group of Rwandan circus performers juggling and doing gymnastics. We stood around and watched them practice their performance for a while. After a good hour or so we went to see the DRC was was nothing as cool as seeing the Tanzanian border, though. (The Rusumo Falls were very cool!)

We were getting hungry. We decided we had to see ONE MORE sight before we ate lunch. This ONE sight was really the reason why we decided Gisenyi, of all the places to visit in Rwanda, was the best place to visit this particular weekend. Why did we think this? Because in the travel guides it says that Gisenyi is home to volcanic hot springs that, according to the residents, have mystical healing powers. We couldn't resist.

So we got to the hot springs and...they were cool, but...they were small, like puddles. I was thinking they were going to be these huge pools of warm water in the middle of some lush, jungle-like setting. I thought we were going to swim and I would be cured of the chest cold that I had been nursing that week. Wrong. The 'hot springs' were little, bubbling puddles of warm, sulfur-smelling liquid. They were neat, don't get me wrong, but I totally let my expectations run wild on this, I was let down a little. was still a fun trip, though.

The next weekend, the three of us (Brandon, Malcolm, and I) set out to the Southern part of Rwanda to visit some of our fellow volunteers and the new Peace Corps trainees at their training sites. We didn't have time to check out anything else, but, apparently, there are a bunch of art and historical museums in the town where the new training is being held; I saw the museums in Butare while I was completing my training, but I haven't seen the ones near the new training sites. Malcolm, Brandon, and I decided we would check them out the next time we were passing through that area.

Back to a work related update; the schools are on break now. My class is PACKED again! This time, however, it is not loaded with the 'movers and shakers' of the community as much as it is loaded with high school students on vacation. I still have a lot of older students, though.

My students are asking me for a break. I couldn't agree more. I really hope I don't jinx myself by announcing this, but me and a few of the volunteers are trying to get a two week trip to Zanzibar going next month. Zanzibar is a small 'island' off of the coast of mainland Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean, and I hear its awesome. The trip planning is going well; I am happy to announce that I have the tickets reserved and ready to go. Man! I can't wait! I really hope this works out. I'll keep you posted.


  1. Good luck Emmett! I do hope the trip happens and it goes well! Have fun and keep at it! I think of you (and your blog!lol) often :-)

  2. Hello
    This is Rwandan acrobats group!
    I'm very happy to see this picture,and I wish to ask you please if you have more it could nice to have them,if its possible please you can send them on our email thanks

  3. And I will be happy to hear from you