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back to Africa

Some hiccups with our house notwithstanding, we are beginning to feel settled. While there are some stark differences between Kenya and Rwanda, there are plenty of similarities as well. Also, we both have spent time in Kigali previously, so the move does not feel nearly as disorienting as going to Moldova from Kenya felt for S, for example. The transition has been a little more challenging for our little ones, however.

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Having already travelled from Kenya to Moldova, and then to the United States, Emmie handled the move back to her native continent like a pro. She whined as we walked away after checking her crate at the Dulles airport, but looked completely unfazed when we picked her up some twenty hours later in Kigali, especially compared to how shaken she seemed when she arrived in Eastern Europe after her first transnational flight. We thought that boded well, but she has had a more difficult time adjusting to her new home than we had anticipated.

Even now, a week and a half after our arrival, she exhibits some abandonment anxiety. She follows us wherever we go, from room to room, and from the house to the yard and back, never letting us out of her sight. The one time we went out and could not take her, we left her in the yard, thinking she would enjoy the grass and sunshine, but that proved a mistake. She was completely wound up, and whimpered uncontrollably when we returned. We thought we would have a hard time retraining her to stay off the couches, but thus far she has given no inclination of wanting to push her boundaries. Instead, she staked out a strip of carpet in the guest bedroom and sleeps there, curled up in a tight little ball in a corner formed by the bed and the wall.

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It’s not all bad news of course. As long as we’re home with her, Emmie seems pretty happy. We have a nice yard and the weather has been phenomenal, so this figures to be a vast improvement on the eight months she just spent cooped up in a DC apartment. She already acts like she owns the joint, barking up a storm any time someone enters the walls of our little compound. Outside the gate, it’s another story entirely. She gets freaked out by bikes, trucks, and motorcycles, of which there is a plethora in Kigali – an adjustment that will take quite a bit more time.

Munchkin was very excited when he learned that we were moving to a new house, but he likewise took some time to acclimate to his new surroundings. He was cranky and clingy until the jet lag wore off and he became better acquainted with the woman we hired as a housekeeper/nanny, but by and large he seems to have returned to his former chatty, smiley form. He still behaves very differently with the two of us, though, which makes it difficult to judge just how well he has adjusted to our new home.

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Although S bears the brunt of Munchkin’s whining, neither one of us likes the Jekyll & Hyde act he puts on. For her part, S thinks it’s unfair that Munchkin saves up his sweetest moments for papa while subjecting her to the bulk of his tantrums. When D comes home from work, Munchkin asks him to play puzzles and Legos, sits on D’s lap during dinner, and lets D put him to bed without a peep of protest. The way D sees it, however, Munchkin is still very much a mama’s boy. When he is with both of us, he will go to S nine times out of ten, and it is his mama that he wants in his moments of greatest need. If he wakes up crying in the middle of the night and D goes to calm him, more often than not Munchkin will shriek even louder, demanding his mama.

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Between last weekend and this one, S has made a tour of most of the local stores and supermarkets, and while there are quite a few items we are used to seeing that were noticeably missing from the shelves, in at least one respect Kigali has DC handily beat. We have a papaya tree in our yard, and mangos, pineapples, and Munchkin-sized bananas are plentiful and cheap. Passionfruit, meanwhile, have become Munchkin’s favorite food. He calls the seeds inside “beans” and squeals delightedly, “More beeeeeeans coming out,” with each spoonful he is fed.

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