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long way to Rwanda

Time seems to be flying faster for us in Kigali than it did in DC. With both of us working full time and trying to make the most of the couple of hours we have with Munchkin each evening, the summer weeks rushed by in a flash and Rwanda’s rainy season snuck up on us unexpectedly.


In a way, we already feel like we’ve lived here for a long time – both because there are various people in the Embassy community who arrived after us and because when one moves every year or two one gets used to settling in quickly.


Having a car also helps in that respect. Initially, we relied on the free shuttle rides the Embassy offers to newcomers the first one month to get to work and on the magnanimity of our friends for weekend plans. This was fine while we settled in and got our bearings, but not sustainable in the long term, especially with Munchkin starting school last month.


Our car – the one we shipped from DC – has made its way to the continent a couple of weeks ago, but is currently stuck in customs at the port in Dar-es-Salaam. The shipping & customs office at the Embassy told us that our vehicle was all set to leave the port but it was mis-registered upon arrival, meaning it will take another week or two to sort out the paperwork to clear Tanzanian customs. Then we still have to wait for our car to be trucked to Kigali and for it to clear customs and receive registration here.


In short, we’re not sure when we’ll be able to drive it and have been renting a car from some guy S found online in the meantime. Rental companies don’t exist in Rwanda; the cars available for rent are private vehicles that the owners rent out while they look for a buyer. We had heard from various people that it is expensive to rent a car here and that the vehicles are typically of questionable quality, and this has also been our experience. Perhaps we shouldn’t complain, as our rental car has yet to break down, as has been the case with every one of our colleagues during their first months in country, but then again we have also been extremely cautious not to push it past our usual home-work-school commute.


While our car is still en route, we did receive our household effects and consumables shipment from DC…or rather, we received most of it. Our belongings were shipped to Belgium, then flown to Addis Ababa, before being transferred to Kigali. Apparently, our stuff made it intact to Addis, but then one of the crates was inexplicably separated from the rest of the shipment, and was only discovered after the rest of our things arrived in Kigali. So we received and unpacked most of our things from DC this weekend, and hope that the remaining, wandering crate arrives in the next week.


Hidden in one of our hastily-packed boxes, D found the missing teleconverter – the item with which he most looked forward to being reunited. This morning, we put it to use, going to a small lake that’s tucked into a valley a few minutes from our house to stroll along the shore and look for birds. It was pretty late by the time we managed to make it out of the house – the sun was high and the birds not as active as they are in the morning, plus Munchkin only wanted to stay a short while before demanding to head home for lunch. Still, we had a good outing, seeing several malachite kingfishers and a couple of sunbirds that were new to us, plus getting much better shots of some of the small, flighty birds D had had a hard time capturing without the teleconverter.


Photos, top to bottom: malachite kingfisher, female red-billed firefinch, green-headed sunbird (new), male red-billed firefinch, black-headed weaver, African dusky flycatcher (new), red-chested sunbird (new).

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