Sunday, November 23, 2008

Museca (Love) and Moracosi (Thanks)


Slowly slowly I feel my heart opening. I witness my guard coming down. I feel more love.
Today I walked through the streets and got to really see what life is like here on a Sunday afternoon. I was not in the center of Kigali, and not in my fancy neighborhood Kiyovu, but in a regular suburban area. I got a real sensation of being in Africa.

Afterwards I went to our Sunday class at the Mosque. I was early so I was able to sit and relax with the children for awhile. I bonded with one little boy who I had met before. He is mute and deaf but we were able to communicate through action. He particularly enjoyed being the guardian of my camera and taking pictures of me and the other children. Then all the children wanted to use the camera and I couldn't dream of saying no.

The other notable event this week was American Thanksgiving. I am the only American volunteer with this program at the moment so I decided to go ahead and celebrate with my international friends. The day started with a trip to the market accompanied by our house cook, Seraphine. She speaks a bit of English but is more comfortable in French so we brought my little dictionary along. We took the hike up our hilly neighborhood streets and over to the center of town where the buses converge stopping to gather lovely yellow flowers that had fallen off some trees. These I would use to decorate the table. The men loading the buses eyed Seraphine and persistently tried to draw her into theirs. She resisted, holding out for a near full vehicle that would surely be leaving the soonest. We grabbed a spot but switched when we found the window wouldn't open. It would be a very hot ride the way they pack in bodies into these mini-van looking buses.

Seraphine pointed out embassies and other buildings of note along the way. I was filled with a warm thankfulness and the deepest desire to rid her of her painful memories. We talked about her children both biological and adopted and her husband who died as she gave birth to her littlest one. And then we arrived. The market was as colorful and packed as I remembered it, only now I had a local guide. I followed Seraphine as she navigated through the aisles giving stern "no's" to inflated prices. Again the thankfulness swelled as I watched her in action. It would have been more than difficult to shop with out her considering the language barrier and my ignorance of the local prices. I imagine I would have ended up spending at least double.

And then, we were homeward bound. We got off the bus at a different spot than we got on and I followed Seraphine as she weaved through secret shortcuts until finally we were home. I must admit I didn't recognize much until we were almost standing in front of my house. We unloaded and prepped for my Thanksgiving feast. Seraphine was kind enough to relinquish control over her kitchen and even eager to see what the strange American was doing. I wished she could have seen more, but most of the cooking had to be done closer to dinner when she was already gone. I made string beans with slivered almonds and red onion, roasted eggplant, zucchini, and cauliflower, candied carrots, and pasta with an eggplant, tomato, basil sauce. I managed to secure some left overs so she could try my creations the next day. The carrots were her favorite.

Dinner was great! My Canadian housemate invited her friends and they contributed mashed potatoes, an incredible salad, and chocolate cake with ice cream. We had also had a local guest Egide who is a student and friend. I was able to skype with my family and the connection was so good it was like they were right here.

I went to bed feeling super satisfied and slept like baby!

Don't forget to check out the pictures!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


This week was different than the first. I finally have some basics down. I can say "good afternoon" and "thank you" and some simple yoga phrases. I have also figured out how to walk into town and back. These feel like huge accomplishments in a culture so foreign to me.

I have begun to lead some of the yoga classes. It is a more difficult task than I would have imagined. I must give the other teachers credit for how well they have succeeded teaching our students. I continue to learn from them as I begin to bring my own skills and style into the class. Rwandan women love to laugh and especially enjoy making light hearted fun of my many mispronunciations. There is an element of sadness and confusion when I am not sure what I have said wrong. It is unnecessary and I am working to laugh at myself right along with them.
I don't feel the same freedom for sadness as I once had. When the emotion approaches I am quickly reminded of the stories around me and the courage the people here have shown. They smile although they have been victims of the worst of human nature. What do I have to feel sad about?

Today I went to the market with the other yoga teacher, Eunice. It was my first big non work related outing. We took the bus which is more like a van. They managed to squeeze 20 of us in there at one point. I think they would have fit more if needed. To signal for a stop passengers knocked on the roof.

The market offered anything you can imagine, from produce to hardware to second hand clothing. My eyes were huge trying to take it all in. Unfortunately, I was not able to get many pictures. A good amount of the population here do not like having their picture taken. Then there are many who encourage it for a price. Please check out the few pictures I got at

More to come!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The First Week

Almost a week has passed since I arrived. What would you like to know? We are teaching a traditional yoga called Ashtanga. It is known for being a high intensity practice. On average, our students eat one meal a day. They sometimes run out of fuel, literally. However, overall they show remarkable strength and courage. We ask them to move their bodies in strange ways. We urge them to continue when they feel they can't go on. They laugh a lot. They laugh at the shapes our bodies make and at the words our lips can't yet pronounce. We are a sight!

They need yoga clothes, some kind of power/energy bars, and complimentary bottled water. If you know of anyone who can provide these items please let me know! If you have any doubt about the link from yoga to recovery, the proof is here. We are witnessing the changes and they are being documented. I am proud to be a part of this extraordinary process.

Please cut and paste this link to see pictures from this week.

You can expect updates each Saturday. Send me your questions so I know what information to provide.

Weekend enziza! (Happy Weekend!)


Monday, November 10, 2008

I Have Arrived

I am sitting on my porch in my new home on this beautiful Rwandan morning.  It rained yesterday and last night, but it is calm and cool now.  The birds are singing and I hear a rooster crowing in the distance.  All around me are bright flowers and big leaves.  I am in Africa.

What it means to be in this place I do not yet know.  It is hilly and beautiful and filled with people in a mix of costumes I'm sure I will come to understand.  Some wear the colored and patterned fabrics that we've come to know and others dress more modern.  The languages spoken are also mixed, but there is definitely a good deal of French and I am wishing I studied more in the days before I left.  I will have to catch up now.

Yesterday I saw the WE-ACTx clinics and participated in my first yoga class with the eager students.  They were the clinic staff and a young boy.  They did not hold back when expressing their gratitude.  They are happy to love and be loved and are immediately warm and affectionate.

For now I have my own room.  There are just five of us here at the house and dinner is cooked for us and eaten all together.  We have a full staff of Rwandans to tend to our garden, laundry, cooking and cleaning.  We have a driver as well, and a guard at the house at night (which is also common in India).  

I am relaxed and glad to once again be close to nature and filled with space.    I wish everyone lives free from fear, pain, and suffering.  

May peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea.