Day 8

Our day started rather lazily (except for Shami, who was in the lobby of the guest house by 7:30!) due to it being the day for mandatory 8am-12pm nation-wide community service projects. (The last Saturday of every month is community service day, and you cannot drive anywhere or leave your home except for community service. They take it very seriously.) Shami beat the deadline and so was able to hang with us for the morning. We mostly uploaded pics to Instagram (the guest house was the only place we had internet that week), watched European premier league soccer game reruns, and talked. The kids made up strange games and entertained themselves.

At noon we went to a craft cooperative (I'd promised the kids all week that I'd let them get a souvenir before we left the country) and spent some time "shopping". It was a fun experience... Em had just changed a bunch of money for me that morning and the guy was short on big bills, so I had a literal brick of 500 franc bills in my backpack. It was slightly awkward when I had to pay my bill of 24,000 francs in 500 franc bills. I've never handled such a quantity of currency in my life! And to make matters, I accidentally ripped one of the ladies off (paid her for one item instead of two) and as we began to leave, she (embarrassedly) told Shami what happened... and I had to dig into the brick in my backpack again and start counting... 5, 10, 15, 20.... and on and on and ON. GAH! Poor lady. Stupid americans. (For those of you thrown off by all the zeroes, this would be like paying for a $24 bill in 50-cent pieces. Yep. That was me!)

After this, we went to lunch at a hotel up in the hills that overlook Kigali. It was great. I got a Coke for the 2nd or 3rd time that week (I never drink soda at home but for some reason drinking Coke overseas just tastes amazing. Kathy claims this is because here they use actual real sugar in soda, instead of corn syrup and crap like they do in the US... anyway...) Shami had told us that there was a surprise for us after lunch. Of course this drove the kids NUTS ... they couldn't handle it. (They hatttttte not knowing what a surprise is going to be.) Finally we finished lunch and made our way to a grassy area outside the hotel. We sat and waited... not even knowing what we were waiting for... when out came a troupe of traditional drummers from Burundi! They were SO impressive. They started by carrying and beating on these enormous heavy wooden drums on their heads, then set them down and incorporated dance and singing/chanting into their routine. It was really cool and the kids loved it too. Toward the end they had each of us come up and join in... and of course, Tristan, who is the only one in our group who actually likes drumming in real life... is too embarrassed or shy or SOMETHING and won't go up!

We spent the afternoon resting and playing and going for a walk... Emily's roommate Stella came over, and it was fun to get to know her.  That night, we decided that the previous night's pizza experience had been so amazing that we needed a repeat session... so we had take-out pizza on the guest house balcony overlooking the city. It was our last night in the country and as the night wore on, I started feeling awfully melancholy. It had been such a fun week, and it was so SO good to see my fab sister doing well... happy and fulfilled and grounded... but still. Rwanda is still a long way away. I was sad to be leaving her and sad that our much-anticipated, much-savored journey was about to be coming to a close. In Rwanda, "goodbye" signifies a long-term thing, whereas if you are just saying "bye for now" you use the phrase, "See you!" So I mentally geared up to say "See you!" to Emily and Shami and everything that had grown familiar to over the past week... because... we will be back, right? Yes, we have to... I need to have a US -to- Africa travel experience that will prove to me that I can actually travel with children internationally without incident. (But really... what fun would that be to read about on a blog?!)

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