Monday, May 20, 2013

Refreshing girl time after three weeks with boys

A fraction of our students actually showed up for class this morning. But for those who showed up, they received a special treat: Chris was teaching his own case! Chris started a company this year, through which he learnt a lot, and wrote a case on it, to teach future students about entrepreneurship. The case hasn't been published yet, but we changed up the curriculum a bit, to include it in our class. After all, it is unlikely that he'll ever be able to teach his own case again! More than just being a special moment for Chris, the students also had a chance to give him direct feedback and suggestions for improvement of his back-end operations at home. A neat experience for all!

In the afternoon, Aleena's family invited us all over for lunch. Jamie had to go to town to conduct an interview for his research (we all have individual research projects that we're completing over the course of our travels) and Chris needed to lie down as his stomach has been upset for a few days. Alex was in lengthy faculty meetings all day, so I went to her family home alone. The food was absolutely delicious, and the entire family was together eating on the patio. Since Aleena and Samir are only here for a couple more days, she wanted to buy some presents for friends and family back home, so her aunt took us into town to visit an artisan market. On the way, we stopped by the family business to pick up something for home. My jaw dropped: it is more like an empire! Aleena's grandfather started Sulfo 50 years ago, with next to nothing, and it is now one of the largest CPG companies in Rwanda! I was excited to see that the bottled water we've been drinking all trip is treated, filtered and bottled by Sulfo! Aleena graciously offered to take us to see the factory before they leave, so I'm excited to view the massive company's operations from the inside in the next couple of days!

At the market, we found some more beautiful trinkets to take home. It was fun bargaining with the shopkeepers, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy hanging out with girls! (After three weeks of only hanging out with guys, it was refreshing to spend time with Aleena!)

After the hour or so of retail therapy, we walked back for some tea and snacks back at the family home. I learnt a lot during the conversations at the tea table, and Aleena's grandfather asked me to share bits about my experience and what I think of Kigali thus far. When I responded that I love Kigali, he quickly said he can find me a boyfriend and I can move here permanently! All had a good laugh, but he was pretty serious about it, so I guess I now have a back-up plan! :)

After tea, the driver dropped me back home in time for a meeting with an Entrepreneurship Professor at SFB. I woke up the boys and we were ready to walk across campus, when Regis informed us to bring some small change, as we'd need it for bargaining with the motos. Apparently the professor moved out of campus residences and into a large home outside of town about a year ago, but for some reason we were under the impression he still lived here! I had just seen a moto accident on the way home from Aleena's, so I was feeling quite uneasy about taking one to the outskirts of town, but I faced my fears and took my first moto taxi ride in the city. And for my first ride, I experienced it all! From the traffic in town, to the rocky cobblestone roads, to a dirt road with tons of ditches, it was the real deal. I think I was most tense when the driver decided to tease me and play chicken with the motos approaching us from the opposite direction, especially when we were on a small ridge in between two ditches!

We arrived at the professor's home with windswept hair, and were stunned by the gorgeous view. I understand why he chose to build in such a remote place: the view is absolutely stunning, and it is so serene, far away from the city centre! We arrived by 6pm, and quickly realized that we'd be there for a while, so we promptly postponed our 8pm on-campus meeting to tomorrow.

The professor, Noel, happens to be married to a student from our class, Denise, and they have a beautiful 16 month old son, Bart. Chris told me my "inner mom" kicked in as soon as I had Bart in my arms, and I had a blast playing with him all evening.
Food was served at 8pm, and we stuck around just chatting and enjoying the view until about 11:30. We were ready to moto back, but after getting phone confirmation that five were on their way (for the three of us, as well as Regis, and Denise's brother, Vincent) to take us back to SFB, only three arrived! The area is so remote, and it was quite late, thus it was decided that two mottos were going to have to double. This is illegal, so as if I wasn't already terrified to be on a moto at night for the first time, I was tripling up on a two seater, squished in between the driver and Chris! Thankfully Chris gave me the helmet, and I was able to squeeze the driver's shoulder every time he was being too reckless with his driving. Overall it was a fine ride, even though we were charged double for putting the driver at more of a risk!

Thankfully we made it home safe and sound, and we quickly got ready for bed. I dozed off for a bit while writing this blog post, so hopefully I did the day justice, as it really was another wonderful day!

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