First 30 days in Rwanda – Overview
In rural Rwanda, the food is all organic and the meat is all free range. Goats are probably the most common animal, but cows come in a close second. Generally, the goats are tied in place with a leash of sorts and left to eat whatever they can find. Goats will eat just about anything. The chickens run around freely, and the eggs they produce are brown.
There are supermarkets in Rwanda, but I think that the local markets give you a better value, and support local farmers. There are several roadside stands, where you can buy fruits and vegetables of all kinds. When I stopped at a roadside stand, I was mobbed by vendors trying to sell me their goods. I bought jackfruit, pineapple, peppers and carrots, and a lot of tomatoes and onions. I bought mangoes, which were delicious. I may never buy a mango in US again. Passion fruit is very common in Rwanda, and I can say that is it probably my favorite fruit. I also bought a local fruit called “tree tomatoes’” which look like tomatoes, and taste very strongly. I presume they grow on trees. Interestingly, there are two types of bananas that grow in Rwanda one is a green banana used in cooking, and it tastes exactly like potatoes. The second type of banana is usually eaten at breakfast, and it is much smaller and very sweet. They taste much better than the big Chiquita bananas of the US.
There are also a lot of very nice restaurants in the cities or in hotels, although a lot of them do not serve native food. However, when I could find it, the traditional food of Rwanda is very savory and really tasty.
From my experience, it is customary to be late in Rwanda. Outside of work, I have noticed that people really take their time. Meals usually last for an hour and a half, from the time you enter the restaurant to the time your bill comes in a cute little basket or carved container.
The people of Rwanda mostly speak the local language, kinyarwanda. The older generation speaks french, and the younger people speak more english, because Rwanda is transitioning to an english based school system. Fortunately, the language barrier is not a problem when asking for directions people will often get in your car and point the way.
The transportation in Rwanda varies based on location. The car taxis are only located in large cities like Kigali, while the common motorcycle taxis are prevalent regardless of city size. Toyota has cornered the vehicular market in Rwanda nearly every car I see is Toyota brand. Jean Pierre whom I rent a car from says the reason people get Toyotas is because “parts are cheap and easy to get.” In the towns and very small cities, there are bicycle taxis. Bikes are used for many things in Rwanda taking goods to market, transporting water, or carrying passengers, even nonhuman ones like goats and chickens. I have yet to see a cow on a bike, but I am still hopeful.
Buses are a common alternative to taxis there are the city buses which are only in Kigali, and the cross-country buses. There are two types of bus in this category the large van buses, and the buses with individual seating. Regardless of the size of the bus, all the bus drivers pass me and are very annoyed about it. A person gets on a bus by hailing the driver. I would not recommend the use of buses, because while staying in a hostel I met a fellow tourist who had been in a bus crash and had injured his arm.
Over the course of my stay here, I have seen several types of wildlife. In Butare there are monkeys, a feral cat that haunts the Motel du Mont Huye, and a dog. Dogs are rare, as they are very expensive to keep. In the national parks there are all kinds of exotic wildlife, and birds and lizards are commonly found all over Rwanda. I even found a lizard in my shower, which I captured using the appropriate protective equipment (a sock) and released back outside. My daughter hates lizards; she says they are just not relatable and are unpleasant to converse with.
I am pleased to say that work is going well. Currently, I am putting together a proposal to restructure the QA department. We are working on implementing quality assurance programs, so that they will increase their compliance. After this I will be assisting with making new batch records and SOPs.
I will also be going to Butare for a the remainder of my time in Rwanda to focus on the Government owned pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. The management team wants to make improvements to the quality systems so that they can pass external regulatory inspections. Right now I am looking for a place in Butare, but this may be rather difficult. Janvier, a local teacher, says it will be hard to find a vacancy in the local hotels because of an influx of refugees from Burundi. Butare is the closest town to Burundi in Rwanda.