So, I had a very nice and relaxing weekend. I did go to a friend’s birthday gathering at a restaurant called Africana. The food was quite tasty (we had goat brochettes and French fries), but of course it took over 2 hours to prepare it since we had a large group. It was a pleasant evening. They even gave me a rose and sang happy birthday to me in Kinyarwanda. I have the same birthday as my friend who was celebrating that evening. Her friends apologized for not knowing sooner. They wanted to bring me presents as well. It was very sweet of them.
I do have a little warning for those of you planning on having a birthday in Rwanda. If it is your birthday and you invite people out, you are required to pay for everyone. And, people are allowed to bring as many guests as they want. If people know there is free food, of course they will show up. You may think you have invited 5 close friends, but you will end up with about 15 – 20 people that you don’t really know. I am still trying to figure out if this is just a ‘Mzungu (foreigner) thing’ where you have to pay if you invite people out or if all Rwandans pay for their friends on their birthdays. But, what I do know is if you decide to invite people out in Rwanda for your birthday, you must be prepared to spend quite a bit of money. Of course, if you have friends that you really enjoy spending time with, it’s definitely worth it.
Also, quick note about weddings. People in Rwanda do not pay for their own weddings. The community is expected to pay. They hold several meetings leading up to the wedding in which family and friends attend to help plan the wedding, figure out the budget, and then pay for the wedding. Not bad! I am thinking we need to introduce this concept in the States. Friends and family pay for the wedding instead of giving wedding presents. It is considered very rude for someone to pay for their own wedding. Weddings are meant to be community events in which everyone participates. Usually about 200 – 400 people will show up at the reception where they have traditional dancing, soda, and cake. My boss has a wedding 7 July, and yes, I have been helping with the preparations just like everyone else.
Since my boss is getting married in two weeks, he has taken the next 4 weeks off. So, I am now on my own for the most part. I still have some work to do for him, but mainly I have to be proactive and begin my own projects. It looks like I will get to go out in the field for the first time this week. The legal officers are still working on training the judges on the new instruction about serving community service first and then finishing out the prison sentence. I am going to go with one of the legal officers out to Western Rwanda on Thursday to watch the training.
And then I am going to Goma for the weekend. I am so excited to get to travel a bit! I am also trying to plan a trip to Burundi the last weekend I am here, but I have to wait and see what the security situation is like there. Burundi has some beautiful beaches which I would love to see. There has been a cease fire, which from what I have been told, every rebel group has agreed to. But, who knows what it will be like in a month.
Oh, and I cooked last night all by myself! I know to most of you this does not seem like a big deal. But, I only basically know how to use a microwave, and surprise, surprise, I don’t have one here. But, I made rice and vegetables on our gas stove. And I think it tasted pretty good.