Sunday, October 3, 2010

Question: Is My Life Real?

Answer: I’m unsure.

I have asked myself this question and have given myself this answer too many times to be healthy. Examples of memorable occurrences include when I ended up being mentioned in The D (see and right before jumping out of an airplane in South Africa.

Most recently, I asked myself this question when looking out over Kigali from the porch of a house belonging to the Tony Blair Governance Initiative, dressed up in 20s flapper wear, and instructing a Mutzig representative how to properly tap a keg.

After a full 2 months in Rwanda, I have finally broken onto the Kigali social scene. The Hash helped. As did my birthday party (have I still not talked about that in a blog? Eek! Maybe that’s subconsciously on purpose?) at making connections with people living in the big city. I was warned when I first arrived that Kigali is a bit surreal in its muzungu culture…and only came to appreciate it this weekend with the “Last Days of Decadence” party thrown by the Tony Blair Governance initiative. Mutzing on tap (when properly tapped) was free-flowing, along with boxed wine and more hidden makings for “tails.” Out back was a grill with brochette and in the main room was a DJ and strobe lights. It truly was a frat party on coke. (Too soon.)

I wore the best outfit I could put together, which included none of my own clothing and flip flops…and was quickly overwhelmed by the CFM heels, the knees, the shoulders, the cleavage, and the sheer fabulousness of everybody else in attendance. But my small-town girl self is used to being underdressed, so I knew to just focus attention towards my other talents instead. Which is when I found myself behind the bar, tapping the keg and pouring beers for the other guests.

The debauchery ended quite early for a night in Kigali: about 3:30am, and we were in our cab ride back home.

The next morning proved to be the most ambitious I’ve ever felt about making a hung over breakfast of grease and eggs. Without any Bagel Basement (or bagels) near, I’ve been forced to learn how to cook an egg. (The shock! The horror! The…did anybody put money on that?) This hasn’t been easy, but I’ve at least mastered the scrambled egg by now, which is a skill I whip out in emergencies when Gabby is not around. Saturday morning was such a morning.

First, I could find no matches. I searched every cupboard, basket, and drawer in the kitchen for 10 minutes, and then searched Jess’ room (oh yeah…I was staying at a house rented by 3 other girls) for a lighter that she promised was in there…it wasn’t. Jess was not being helpful even though she lived there. She just lied down on the couch and instructed me that matches existed somewhere in the house. Eventually I found some in another girl’s room.

Then there were no pans. Whatever. I just used a pot.

No gas for the stove. You’ve got to be kidding me. I woke up Jess and she told me I had to go outside and turn on the gas to the house. Check.

No butter. Used vegetable oil.

Only 3 eggs. Rwandan eggs are small and I was cooking for two. Only 3 pieces of toast. One and a half eggs and one and a half pieces of toast is not enough food for me. Luckily, Jess was asleep on the couch. I ate one slice of bread and served our meal pretending there were only 2 all along. I also cut up an avocado because they cost about 20 cents so I felt no guilt eating it.

No grater for the cheese. Whatever. I used my hands.

By this point, the pot that I intended to use was SIZZLING hot. As in way too hot to cook anything without burning it immediately. Solution: I went outside to turn on the water to the house, and quickly ran the outside of the pot under cold water. It created a frightening amount of smoke in a house that was not mine and was not owned by the people I was visiting…but it did the trick.

Eggs cooked, bread toasted, avocado cut … perfect post-last-days-of-decadence breakfast.

And less than an hour later I was paying ~10usd for a burger at a hotel.

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