Saturday, June 30, 2012

My June Faves

This plant is used as a ground cover - it has this little tiny pink flowers and bright purple leaves and stems
The fragrant tuberose
Ice cream dreams
Hello big crazy looking beetle bug

Friday, June 29, 2012

Date Night

The Tall One and I managed to sneak away for a dinner date a couple weeks ago. We didn’t have any special plans and so we ended up at a place near our house that we like called New Cactus. When we first knew we were coming to Kigali, Eric did all this research about places to eat and New Cactus was one of those that many people wrote about. There were rave reviews for one of their appetizers and I gotta tell you it might just be one of the best things you will find in a restaurant in Kigali. I can’t remember the name but its these pieces of goat cheese wrapped in dough and fried, drizzled with honey and chopped bacon. Ohh my, my heart attack is waiting to happen but these things are little bites of heaven.

Such a sweet sweet man!
Local wild orchid
View up through the trees from our cliff-side perch

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How do you feel about Hitting?

I work a ½ day on Fridays and that’s the day I get to pick O up from school. Every couple of weeks or so I try to skip out early and make it to his school at lunch time so that we can eat together. I feel like parents should be welcomed at any school their child attends and at his current school I have always been made to feel that way. Last week I got my lunch to go, bought a bucket of raspberries and headed over to have lunch. Now this school lunch time is not like anything you are thinking of…all of the 60 or so kids eat together in one little room, sitting around their tables and waiting for their lunch to be served. ITS CHAOS! Controlled CHAOS maybe, but CHAOS none the less (or maybe that’s how it always is at lunch time with kiddos?) Its loud and the teachers are tired and the cooks just want to serve the food and the kids just want to eat. That day they were having noodles with peas and ground beef (barf!) and O was macking it down. When I walked in the kids started getting up and coming over to say hi and getting all excited. It’s pretty cute unless you’re one of the people trying to reign in the CHAOS. They were all excited because when I come I usually try to bring some sort of fruit – usually strawberries or raspberries or something called a gaperi (not sure that’s how you spell it – kinda like a sweet gooseberry) for everyone to share. So there I am sitting on a little wooden chair, eating my sandwich, talking with O and the kids at our table and I see this little boy named Owen come over from his table to see what’s up. Owen is in O’s class and I know who he is – so it’s even more expected that he would come over. Then I see this “teacher” that I don’t know come over while Owen is talking to me and she hits him across the back of the head and in Kinyarwandan tells him to go sit back down. Owen starts crying, goes and sits back down and I stand up. I put my hand out and introduce myself saying “Hi, I am Orion’s mom. Who are you” She shakes my hand and states her name. I say “nice to meet you, if I ever see you hit another child in front of me again I will file a report with the authorities”. I don’t really know if there are any “authorities” to file a report with but still…I was overwhelmed with her violence. I told her there were a million other ways to discipline a child and hitting them just shows that hitting is ok. She told me she was a mom and a Christian as if this made up for smacking a three year old kid. I spoke with O’s teacher – who we love – who told me that the new lady was a teachers aid in another class. I told O’s teacher that I don’t support hitting kids and that if she ever had issues with O to call Eric or myself and to not hit him. I don’t know how I feel about this interaction and days later I am still processing it. My gut reaction was to pull O out of school but he loves it and told us that he has never been hit. Is it cultural? Eric says he thinks only the Rwandan kids get hit and not any of the international kids that go to the school. That makes me feel even worse. I asked a Rwandan woman I work with about this and she agreed with Eric – she said that culturally any adult is encourage to discipline a child that is misbehaving. Discipline…sure, smack across the head…I just don’t know. My colleague then went on to say that the First Lady of Rwanda made announcements that you should treat every child like your own and I have seen billboards that speak to this but I still have a hard time with hitting a kid. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Waterfall Hike

This last quick trip to Nyungwe Forest was so much fun. It was nice to get out of Kigali and spend time with Tatyana just lounging by the pool. The weather cooperated (not like last December when it was about 50 degrees and rainy) and we had the chance to take the waterfall hike that I had been itching to see. Not sure how long the hike is but it took us about four hours. Pretty steep climbing back up and then we took a "short-cut" with our guide that had us hiking through tea plantations.
Spot the toad or is it a frog?
Getting closer
Its not Niagra Falls but dang that's a lot of water
View downstream
At the bottom of the trail - now to head back up!
See what I mean by heading back up?
Out of the jungle and back into the tea plants

Friday, June 22, 2012

What a treat!

I don't do pintrest. I have thought about it and am awed and amazed at all the interesting things that are out there. My girl Katy has been challenging herself to make/do the things that she has pinned and its been great following her as she tries out new recipes and crafts (and as I just looked at her blog - a sweet pea trellis). There's this thing with new things - sometimes they are a hit and sometimes not so much. We had Father's Day dinner with our friends who made ALL new recipes for dinner. Have you ever done that? I was super impressed. Usually we make our old stand-bys when we have people over. They made a carrot dip and a roasted eggplant dip, along with a tomato lentil and roasted veggie main dish. It was really fun to taste test everything and give opinions about whether its a keeper or not. So, I wrote all of this to tell you about these amazing ice-cream pops that I made to contribute to the Father's Day dinner. I offered to bring dessert and wanted to bring something fun and something you can't get easily in Kigali. I googled Father's Day recipes and of course Martha Stewart popped up with some impossibly hard (but super cute) sugar cookie stencil  recipe. thanks. Then good ole' Country Living showed me what I was looking for...Confetti Ice Cream Pops! I didn't have popsicle sticks but being the resourceful woman that I am, I remembered when cleaning out the store room at my job there was a box of WOODEN pap-smear sticks...wooden, ouch! Of course I couldn't throw them away (cause they might come in handy for some craft project some day) so I cut them in half and used them for the handles of the pops. What do you get when you take pap-smear sticks, paper cups, a $17 carton of ice cream and old sprinkles left over from Easter...a Father's Day treat to knock your socks off! YUM!
I am ready for some action - because its so warm here the ice-cream kept melting too much...lots of trips to the freezer
After being frozen for about 4 hours
finished your mouth watering?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Butaro Hospital

The Health Unit where I work took an all day field trip to Butaro Hospital way out in the middle of nowhere. It was about a 3 hour ride outside of Kigali on crazy one lane dirt roads that had been severely impacted by the recent rainy season (read: there were mudslides and parts of the roads were washed out). Add in semi trucks barreling down towards us and its no wonder I kept telling the driver "stay on the inside, stay on the inside" that way we were against the mountain and not the drop off. All the trials of the road trip aside, this was a beautiful scenic journey and one seriously amazing hospital.
color-coded to assist with illiteracy - just follow your color on the walls and the signs - this was the OBGYN ward

the view from the crazy roads

A typical ward - but look how clean it is!

Umuvumu Tree

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hey there Daddy O!

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. Big love to my Brother on his first Fathers Day and to the Tall One - who, in more ways than he knows, is the best dad ever! xoxoxo

Eric and the Two Boys!
Fathers Day Dinner with the Baker-Jones Crew!
The Two Kings O' The Day

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chain Gangs...Unchained

One of the best things about getting outside of Kigali is the opportunity to check out the amazing scenery. Usually this means lush green hills, school children on their way home, people working the fields or selling veggies on the side of the road. On our recent trip out of town we came across rice fields being worked on by prisoners. It’s crazy to see a bunch of men in orange and pick jumpsuits among the bright green. It tricks the eye. You don’t see this type of scene very often inside Kigali. In our two years here I have seen huge trucks full of prisoners maybe 6 or 7 times. The prisoners in pink jumpsuits are genocidaires – those accused of perpetrating crimes during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. As we sped by this group - or rather slowed down to 30 mph, I didn't see anyone who appeared to be "in charge" you know, like a police officer or soemone in a uniform - which I thought was strange. Are the prisoners that trustworthy? do the powers that be figure they really don't have any place to run to (see the jungle bush in the backround)? 

Working in the fields
Time to head "home"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Incentive We Needed

Having a houseguest has made us think outside the box for the past couple of weeks. Instead of our normal ho-hum routine we have tried to spice it up a bit and give Tatyana a taste of Rwanda. Last Friday we skipped naptime for O (ohhh horrors for us sleep-nazi’s) and headed South to the town of Butare. If you “trip-advisor” Butare, you won’t find much listed. The National University of Rwanda is there and the only ice cream shop in the country and that single fact alone was enough to get us in the car. I had heard from colleagues that there was a pottery and tin co-operative someplace down there as well. So we drove down and referencing our brandt tour book of Rwanda were able to find the pottery shop! I absolutely never thought we would find it…we turned right at a blue sign off the main road and kept driving down a dirt path until we came to the end of the road and then, after asking a bunch of giggling school kids which fork in the road to take, we found it. All the potters were finished for the night but we got to check out their wares and make a couple of purchases. We had a quiet night at a rat-trap motel with a rousing game of scrabble, fish brochettes and Eric’s special mixed drinks. The next morning we checked out the University as there were supposed to be a troup of monkeys that hang around the stadium – the monkeys were gone cause there was a bunch of students playing football. We quickly dissed the University and headed off for the all important ice cream shop. YAY! It was a great treat. Then Tatyana and I headed to the National Museum and Eric and O headed around back to play with balls and run around. Interesting displays and beautiful gardens. We started our trip back with a stop at a "tinnery" (is that really even a word?) and spent some minutes among beautiful things.

The pretty things!

I really need to practice my French
So many choices...
The sign for the pottery cooperative

I Scream...You Scream...!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do you Jackfruit?

We all went to the big market on the Monday of Memorial Day and got our fill of produce, crafts and loud noises. I can't remember how the subject of jackfruit came up but it did and then Tatyana managed to find the only jackfruit in the entire market. They said it came from Uganda. Do you like jackfruit? Honestly, I had never tried it before. Turns out (thanks to google) that its in the mullberry bush family and related to the breadfruit - but the breadfruit is a starchy version.

So here we are with a giant jackfruit (which can grow to be 80 pounds) and our biggest knife! It took a bit to cut into it and it had white, stringy, sticky juice that was close to impossible to clean off. It took Tatyana about an hour to clean out one little piece to eat. Holy smokes it was great but definitely took alot of elbow grease.

We ate the one little piece and sent the rest to O's school for his "bring a fruit to school" day!
We had to use the BIG knife!
Crazy looking insides - super sticky with gigantic seeds
interesting shape

Friday, June 1, 2012