24, 2007 - Bujumbura
When I got off the bus on Sunday afternoon, it was hot and sunny and a
kind lady came right up to me to ask if I were George. It was Florence ,
my host. She graduated from the Friends Seminary here in 2005 and her
English is excellent as that school is taught in English by American
Quakers. She took me by taxi to the Hotel Pacific, an old colonial
structure out of Graham Greene. Ten foot high ceilings with plaster
crumbling, but a cold running shower and no worries of water shortages
with Lake Tanganyika only a mile away. I took the luxury of 2 showers
yesterday. The first night I thought there were bedbugs but I think it
was just a reaction to the material of the sheets, although there was a
world class cockroach in the sink when I turned on the light in the
middle of the night. Night two I slept without problem. I walk over to
the Friends' church to teach in the sanctuary, a tin-roofed building with
thick bamboo or thick grass walls. Lots of street noise from construction
and cars, and a cafe right next door. I teach everything in French in
this class and the time goes much faster than when we translated
everything. The students are all professionals working in the church in
various capacities as directors of women's associations, trauma and
concilliation programs, coordinators , etc. Wonderful people, all. I
haven't been shot down or criticized by anyone. Not like the old days in
Zimbabwe or Tanzania. I thought I would take some flak for US policy in
the middle east , but not so far. If one comes with the Quakers, people
know you're not in the Bush camp.
The levels of formality may vary to the extremes. There are protocols of
greeting and asking how someone is before asking the question you really
want to pose. Yet this AM I came out on the veranda at about 6:45 Am
yesterday to ask if breakfast is served yet. The manager was there on the
on the veranda surveying his domain just out of the shower wearing only a
pair of boxers and flip flops, not the least embarrassed by our meeting.
He explained that breakfast would be ready about 7:15. He went his way, I
went mine. Had a very nice breakfast, the Pacific Omelette with a bun and
cafe au lait made with powdered milk. Very good flavor the Burundian
coffee. Florence met me at 8:00 to take me to the classroom/church.
This AM I decided to go for a run as a walk yesterday indicated that
people do jog in this neighborhood. I forgot my running shorts in Kigali,
but after my encounter with the hotel manager, I figured a pair of boxers
would be acceptable at 6:30am. Not a problem. Even passed a few guys on
the run. I think they were soccer players , because they were running
down the road wearing spikes.
First day of class went well. They are patient with me and are very
caring. I think they have practiced less mediation than the other groups,
perhaps because of the circumstance of war. There are more armed soldiers
on the streets than any place I've ever been located. Gas stations are
protected and most public buildings. Tonight on my way over to the church
to eat, there were twenty heavily armed soldiers next to the hotel.
Probably some vip in the area.
Traffic is chaotic. There appear to be no rules as there are no traffic
lights or street signs. Just watch out whenever you cross a street. I
went to the market today in a crush of people and got pickpocketed.
Fortunately only a tradgey for the culprit as he/she got my camera case ,
but the camera was in the other pocket.
As I mentione, the Hotel Pacific is Graham Greenish, I met an old Brit
there tonight who has been coming to East Africa for 25 years just to
hang out. He came up from Kigoma by bus, which is an adventure just to
contemplate. It took him until Aug. 20 to get a reservation on the train
back to Dar Es Salaam. He's looking for a boat back to Kigoma now or else
it will be return by bus.
So long, someone is patiently waiting for this computer.
Aug 21, 2007
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July 23-25, 2007
July 24, 2007
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June 30, 2007
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June 11, 2007
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