The World is Small and Rwanda is Even Smaller

A few Saturdays back I was walking along the street to go home for the evening. I stopped at the same street vendor where I always do to buy corn, or maize as Rwandans called it (The corn is fantastic. It is grilled over a small charcoal fire and sold extremely hot. One cob only costs 100 Rwandan Franks, or 11 cents). To my surprise, I heard someone calling my name as I was buying the corn. I turned around to see my friend Denyse holding corn behind me. I met Denyse in Kigali a few weeks ago. She is the good friend of the Rwandan interns at Zamura. She works as a journalist in Kigali, so it was a total surprise to see her almost 3 hours away in Musanze!

She told me that she was visiting her family in Musanze for the weekend, and she invited me to have dinner with them. So I walked almost an hour with her from my house to her house across town. Denyse was born and raised in Musanze, so it was very special to hear about the city from her perspective.  

I arrived to her house at 10pm, and was greeted with literal open arms by her mom, dad, and three young siblings. Her parents had dinner waiting for us on the table. It was a delicious, traditional Rwandan meal of vegetable soup (more like a puree of amaranth, swiss chard, and other greens), white rice, and a mixture of beans and carrots. Denyse’s family is unique for Musanze, however, because they have meat with nearly every dinner. On this night they served chicken wings and drumsticks they had purchased from the market. I ate the soup, beans and carrots, and rice. They were delicious!

We of course washed our hands before eating, but it wasn’t in a sink. Denyse’s mom put soap in my hands and held a bucket underneath them, and Denyse poured water over my hands from a cup. I did the same for her. Our hands got very clean!

We finished the evening by drinking black tea, which I’ve found is the most common type in Rwanda. I played with her siblings and held her baby sister, who was surprisingly comfortable being held by a mzungu.

Denyse and her parents walked me to the road and helped me call down a motorbike to take me home.

I thought I would spend the evening alone at my house, but instead I got to see one of my good friends and eat dinner with her family. It was such a special evening for me!

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