yes, it's true! it's been a looooong month of nothing on this blog, but i'm still here. promise.
a lot has happened, or at least a lot seemed to be happening all the time and i couldn't find the right combination of free time and working internet to post anything. but a few highlights...
first, my foot is much better. thanks to everyone who keeps asking! the cast came off several weeks ago and now it's painless and i even forget it was ever broken. i'm still taking it easy... no running or yoga or hiking. but it's really a whole new world to have both feet in working order!
a few weeks ago i went to kigali to get a follow-up xray (fine) and i did some shopping. i bought a coffee maker and... wait for it... an ice cream maker! you just can't find ice cream here so i'm gonna make my own!
as for coffee, there's actually a coffee shop in kigali! yes, a coffee
shop may not seem like much to all of you in the land of starbucks and
rao's, murky and caribou. but given that even a proper coffee
(as in, not instant) is hard to come by here, my iced latte was
the odd thing is, they actually grow coffee in rwanda and congo... just few here drink it. nestle's clearly done what they do best: take something made local and put it out of business by flooding the market with a "modern" yet inferior alternative made in some giant factory elsewhere. for all the coffee farms and dairies in eastern congo, they sell a heck of a lot of nescafe and nido (powdered milk), let me tell ya.
with the cast off, i've been doing a bit of swimming on the weekends. finally i can hop in the fresh cool waters of lake kivu and luckily we've had a bunch of perfectly warm swimming days. sunny and high 80's low 90's. sitting by the lake, drinking a beer and chatting with friends, i often marvel at how much like paradise this supposed hell hole can feel! now i just need to find a house with its own lake access...
in other good news, i'm tied for first in our ncaa pool. it's only 6 of us here in goma, and given that i don't have a tv or cable i haven't seen a single game! but with msu, uconn and unc all in my final four picks, i'm doing pretty well. and fyi, espn.com loads pretty quickly (only 5 minutes!) when you turn off the images. go state!!
speaking of basketball, i've been watching dario's games when i can. he plays in a local league at the one court in town... besides the one at his house! he even runs a morning (5am) basketball program for local kids in his spare time. apparently the congolese are really into basketball. who knew?
the court is across the street from one of the universities (you can see it, along with the volcano, in the background of these photos), next to the one tennis court in town, and flanked on the other two sides by shanties. it's cracked and faded but the hoops have nets and no one seems to care that if you fall off the edge of the cement you'll break your leg on lava.
a couple kids keep score on an old school board as the refs yell it out, the crowd cheers and jeers in french and swahili, and little tykes with balls made of old plastic bags tied up with rope come out to practice their shots during every time-out. crazy, chaotic and a really fun way to spend a saturday afternoon.
on the down side, for the past two weeks i have had power less than 50% of the time. it was out from last tuesday until last night (monday). i've resisted getting a generator out of principle but they are so common here that i'm rethinking my stance. without one when the lights flicker off, it means an indefinite amounts of time with no fridge, no stove and - worst of all for me - no hot water! cold showers on chilly rainy mornings are just not fun.
plus, nearly that entire time, i had this monstrosity parked outside my house!
please note the missing back wheels. there were 4 of of these trucks lined up on the street apparently because they hadn't paid taxes. uh, ok. it was nearly impossible to get out my gate! even better, every morning somebody would park in the one tiny spot i could actually squeeze out of so my guard would have to run around the street to the various offices nearby asking whose car it was so they could come move it! then one day they all just disappeared. oh goma.
finally, just a tip: i may have news of the canine variety very soon. yeah!