Sunday, October 17, 2010


Rwanda has a national law that every workplace must have “sport time” once a week. This is their way of fighting American obesity before it happens. It’s a good idea, but in reality it doesn’t quite work. CCHIPs usually just spends our sport time drinking together at a restaurant, being that it’s at 4pm every Friday.

Last Friday I decided to actually take advantage of sport time and go for a run – mostly convenient because I had a 6pm phone call scheduled with people back in the US.

The fun thing about running in Rwanda – besides the children that chase you and the calls about being a muzungu – is that there are road markers every kilometer. So, despite the fact that there’s no USATF to map the routes, it’s pretty easy to calculate the distance of each run. Plus, kilometers are so much shorter than miles that “just one kilometer more” is actually possible.

My plan, when I set out, was to run 6k straight and then flag down a moto to drive me home. I’d never done this before, but I thought it would be a good idea because all the pretty views come after the 4k mark.

It started to become less of a good idea when I stopped seeing motos on the way. By all meanings of the word, I live IN town, so I didn’t even realize how quickly rural and moto-less it gets outside of town. This started to worry me. Plus I am apparently slower than I thought I was – or the 6k marker was a lot further away than I thought it would be – because the time on my iPod was getting uncomfortably close to 6pm, when I had to be back at the CCHIPs house for the phone call.

But I forced myself along, refusing to quit. And then it started to torrentially downpour. This was absolutely the last straw. The time, the lack of a ride home, the rain – I decided that I would hitch a ride with the next car I saw. (Hey Mom and Dad, I’m being safe in Africa?)

Which is okay, because it turned out to be a mutatu, which is a local bus. I of course caused a complete spectacle, being a muzungu girl stuck in the rain, wearing a short skirt and all. And because of the rain, it was a PACKED mutatu. Like so packed that the money collector had to sit on my lap.

Oh shit. Money collector.

It wasn’t until this point that I realized…I had no money to pay for the mutatu ride. (Hey Mom and Dad, I’m being real safe in Africa?) Nobody in the mutatu spoke any English. My only way of communicating this unfortunate fact was tapping the money collector on the shoulder, pointing at the money, and shrugging my shoulders. This of course caused everybody in the mutatu to howl with laughter, but at least not with anger.

I tried to promise that I would keep money with me during future runs, but to nobody who speaks English, so I just quieted down and accepted my position as the charity ride that I was. (Hi Lucy!)

In talking with some Peace Corps girls later on, it sounds like the only smart thing that I did during this adventure was NOT offer my phone number to the money collector to “pay him later.” This was an idea that I considered, so thankfully I didn’t do it, because doing so would have confirmed to everybody on the bus that I am a prostitute. Great.

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