Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday - Laundry and such

Sundays are for relaxing and I have done just that. I woke up this morning and did a little reading in the Rwanda tour guide that Michelle had left behind for me. A lot of the tour guides mention a few charitable organizations but this guide in particular talked about a few more than the "Lonely Planet" does. So I had an idea. Much of my interest in Africa, other that the amazing wild life, is what is going on for development. What are people doing to help and make a difference. I have already, without even giving it much effort, talked to so many people that are doing interesting things here with charities and NGOs. So I decided to put out a bigger effort to seek out these organizations. I will try, on the days I am not traveling, to visit at least one organization a day while I am still in Africa. I just want to see what people are doing and talk to them. Of course there are so many orphanages but there are also people developing really unique programs. My friend Michelle, while in Kigali, met with a woman who was developing a program in which they were going around to hospitals and such and teaching yoga classes for rape victims. My friend Greg told me about a program, also here in town, that a Canadian woman is running. She is helping many of the widows of the genocide to learn how to make and then market batik.
I am crazy about Batik. Batik is a cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. It is popular in many parts of the world. The patterns produced are very beautiful. I have already bought a few pieces of fabric while I was out in Musanze. However, most of the batik you find now around this part of Africa are sent in from DRC or even China. So it would be very cool to get some fabric that I know is made locally and helps to support these women at the same time.
So this is my goal for tomorrow. I will give this Canadian woman a call in the morning and see if I can come visit. I will also be hitting the local craft market to see what cool things I can pick up. (Oh, yes, I will also be searching for a suitcase because my world of possessions is expanding quickly)
I am pretty excited about my new idea. I know some of these organizations may be disappointing and a waste of money but I think some of them will be very interesting and worth my time.
I have also decided to spend at least an extra day in Kigali beyond what I had planned. Compared to most African cities Kigali is very clean, safe, and orderly, and I am getting spoiled by this. The internet connections are generally very good here. And I would really like to spend a little time reorganizing my blog and hopefully figuring out how to get pictures on. No promises but we shall see.
I will also start my list of travel commandments and things I have learned.
1. Never, never leave home without your good camera. Most places it is worth the risk of having. The pictures you get will be worth the effort and risk. (also bring a point and shoot for video and the few situations where you don't feel comfortable carrying the big camera)
2. Mostly carry small size gig cards like 2 or 4 gig. This way you will quickly fill them up and switch out to new ones. If your camera gets ripped off (or in some cases confiscated for taking pictures where you are not suppose to, which is almost everywhere in some countries) you won't lose the bulk of your pictures.
3. Notebook - essential for blogging and keeping pictures organized. Most of the computers here, even in the city, are very old and outdated. But you can almost always find a decent wireless connection. Again, never leave home without one.
4. Bring things you really like to wear and don't be afraid to dress a little nicer, even just going out to the market, than maybe you would at home. I hate most of the clothes I brought and have ended up buying a few things here. Most of the clothes I brought were the REI travel type clothes and they look stupid. People everywhere treat you differently when you look a little nicer and not so much like a tourist. And really you just feel better about yourself when you have on nice pants, a cute top, and a cute pair of earrings.
5. Bring at least one really nice outfit. You always think "I am just backpacking, I won't go anyplace nice". But you will. There will be a party or New Years Eve or someone will invite you to the nice restaurant in town.
6. Always bring your lipgloss. Lipstick or lipgloss always makes you look a little more put together. I did not bring the one from home that I like because I paid $20 for it and I was so afraid of getting ripped off. All I brought was mascara which does not have the same effect.

This is just a start to the rule book. Will add more everyday - really just to remind myself for next time.


  1. Monday, Jan. 4, 10 (Just wanted to see what the date looks like. I think it's cool! Think it's even cooler that I'm still alive to see it written!!)

    Love your "Rules of the road!" I shall never again leave my lip gloss at home when I do cross country biking. I always forget my camera, even though I bought one thah mounts on my handlebars. I've had for three years, at least, and have yet to take it obn tour with me. I bought it because I missed getting a picture of a doe and her fawn crossing the road ahead of me as myself, and a pickup driver coming from the other direction, stopped about 125 to 150 yards away, to watch them amble across the road. I was fascinated to see the truck stop and wait also. I wanted proof of it to show others that there are still some sane people left. I noticed, too, as we passed each other, that he was a young guy. I was riding my road bike and couldn't get the camera out of my handlebar bag, because it wasn't there, again! Yet I still forget to mount the new camera each time I travel by bike. Go figure.

    Anyway, glad you're where you feel safe and are meeting interesting people. Please stay that way, and keep these posts coming.

    Love You!!! Dad

  2. Love your idea about visiting the various organizations! On Christmas day there was a special Oprah aired featuring 2 African women who have risen above the opression there. Anyway, there is an organization that you can access through Oprah's website where you adopt an African woman for $27 a month which I guess is astounding to them! I've planned on checking it out but haven't had time yet. But I would love to help out especially if I know the charity is reputable & actually doing some good! Oh, buy all the local Batik you can!!!! It's a disapearing art here in the US. Penny

  3. I agree with traveling with "nice clothes" and lipgloss. I've actually had friends make fun of me because I didn't have the REI/EMS type clothes and traveling items until recently with the Haiti trip. Yes they are useful but they are not the end all be all to traveling. Preach!