May 1, 2012
On my way to Rwanda the airline had somehow messed up the special meal requests and they didn't have a vegetarian option for me. The woman offered fish and said, "it's almost vegetarian." Yes. The way chicken or beef is almost vegetarian. Welcome to Africa!
One of my biggest frustrations was the difficulty of arranging housing in Kigali. Online you can only find hotels and as in the capitals of most countries with a large amount of development aid, they are ridiculously expensive. I could have simply found something once I arrived there but having never been in Africa and lacking the requisite language skills (Kinyarwanda and French), I didn't want to leave that up to chance. Luckily, it turned out that there was a guest house managed by my office, and I got a room there. That's also where I met Samuel and Nina, two great people I hope to cross paths again soon.
My room was the one in that corner with the open door:
I understand the concern about malaria much better now, too. I wasn't in
a single place (even places run by foreigners) where the nets weren't somehow torn and even if malaria
medication was cheap (which it's not!!) it's dangerous to take malaria
medication everyday if you're staying a country longer-term. My
medication was 50 Euros per box, and I needed three boxes for my trip.
This is also only for prevention - if you get malaria treatment is even
more expensive and some strains of malaria stay in your body forever,
with risks of relapses for the rest of your life. It would be a
difficult disease to handle in a developed country with proper health
insurance, it is significantly more so in a continent with a
insufficient health system and extreme poverty.
My taped-up mosquito net: