Rwanda: The Convent
Our destination was a convent where 5 sisters of the Holy Mother Virgin Mary (or somesuch order) live and do parish work. They use African stools in the chapel for their worship.
My room is basic and clean, with sturdy wood single beds and a concrete floor. There’s a garden of large onions outside the door and daisies out the window.
Food is served often–breakfast, tea time, lunch, snack, dinner. In the convent, bottled Rwandan beer appears with dinner. If I do not eat much, my friend says, “You are lazy in eating.” Losing weight is not a priority here. Staying healthy is.
A generator runs from 6-9 and a small fluorescent stick lights the room. When the generator goes off it is dark as pitch. And quiet. I brush my teeth with bottled water with my head out of the window, so as not to trip over anything in the night.
I wake up under my mosquito net with the morning light. There do not seem to be many mosquitos and few cases of malaria, but I am told to use it anyway.
I head to the bathroom with a green plastic pail of hot water. I often forget that water is a resource. Engineers without Borders has been here to put in water reclamation tanks and wells. There is plenty of water in the rainy season; not enough in the dry. It is the transition now, before the long rains, which will last about 3 months, start.
A key has appeared in the bathroom door of this otherwise keyless convent since I walked in on a man yesterday. The bathroom is painted bright green on the bottom and bright yellow on the top, with bright green doors that are starting to peel because of the moisture. I stand in a small shower sink and splash and pour, pour and splash. This is the moment on every trip where I think about how glamorous people think my travel world is. They are not the ones pouring water from a bucket to bathe. I don’t mind it and never have. I pull a skirt over my head so as not to drag it in the water on the bathroom floor. I put on blue borrowed flipflops.
I am dressed and my day bag is packed with rulers and tape measures for measuring handwoven baskets. With files and a notebook. I have brought bright sparkly hair clips for girls, only to find that most have their hair shaved close to their heads, and this is not a good choice for a small gift.