Friday, March 28, 2008

"yes please "

Kigali reminds me of San Pablo in the Philippines. It's a city of about 1million people and is the same type of small town atmosphere. Kids are running around in uniforms during school break. People are all over walking to little street shops and to the market. There are people on motors (read: bigger than mopeds but not quite motorcycles). The landscape is hilly but the full of trees, grass, and tons of houses with terracotta roofs. It even smells the same -- that musty smell of earth and petrol (my coworker doesn't like the smell). Of course, I like it because it reminds me of the Philippines except it lacks that twinge of burning rice pods on the side of the road.

I had a driver today and rode around meeting with shipping companies, securing more drivers, going to the store to buy supplies, and going to the US Embassy to do some business. All by noon! Fridays in Rwanda = cool. They shut down at 1.

The hotel is really, really nice. Nicer than some of the hotels that I've stayed in the US. The bathrooms are marble tiled and I have separate tub (and I think I just have a standard room). And there is artwork everywhere. This hotel was renovated recently. What's sad is that it used to be the Hotel Diplomat, which was ransacked during the genocide a few years ago. If you watch the movie, you'll see. Actually, I confirmed this today, but had thought of it on my own last night, kinda freaked me out a little bit and so I slept with the TV on BBCworld all night. It's what I get for watching Hotel Rwanda one night before I left.

On a lighter note, I've noticed that lots of people here like to answer with either "yes please", "no problem", or "thank you". But I will say that it sometimes catches me off guard because I don't always understand their context.

leah: may I have some coffee please?
waiter: yes please. rushes off
leah: ... ? ...

brings coffee

leah: we decided to have our coffee outside, can we move please?
waiter: yes please. no problem.

leah: thank you!
waiter: thank you
leah: ...
pause... your welcome?

now before you correct my punctuation, i want say, instead of "yes, please [insert it would be my pleasure to bring you coffee]... it's more like yesplease. said in one breath, as in one word. meaning... yes. it's cute. but jarrs me sometimes.

AND it isn't a "no, thank you!" situation, it's more like I'm just going to repeat what you just said and thank you happens to be it.

The "no problem" thing is just cute. They are the nicest people and smile all day long. I love it.

Again,we did lots of work that I can't really talk about but I did get to have some fun today.

After all our meetings, etc., we headed to dinner and realized that the cafe we discovered earlier in the afternoon had extended their al fresco restaurant from patio to the grassy area near the pool. It was cute. yes please!

Ok, we ate in the hotel (again), but this time, it was Rwandan and yummy. I tried as much as I could:

  • Roasted tilapia appetizers: yum.
  • Ugali: what i think was mashed casava. tasted like mashed yuca, without the fried goodness. or mashed potatoes without cream or butter.
  • Beef brochettes: grilled beef kabobs with onion. can't really go wrong with that.
  • Matoke in Tomato Sauce: matoke is a banana - that's pretty bland - simmered in tomato sauce. i could compare it to pot roast/beef stew, you know without the beef.
  • Baked Tilapia: tilapia, fried, i think, then simmered in tomato and herb sauce. reminiscent of filipino escabeche but not sweet or sour. uhh, maybe not escabeche.
  • Traditional goat stew: goat done all the way (read: not chewy) is very much like lamb. this stew was yummy! again, reminiscent of filipino calderetta - without the spiceyness.
  • For dessert, I had nutella crepe with some kind of fruit as well as Maitaki - which I think was a fried cassava fritter with coconut shavings on top. I'm not really sure if my guess is correct, but it was pretty good. Even better when I threw some nutella on top.
  • For my beverage, I had a Mutzig. It's the beer the waiter recommended. After I asked him if it was local, he said "yes please" and got it for me. After googling it just now, I find out it was a French beer. See what I mean. Oh well.
During dinner, there was a band (more like a beat machine, a guy on keyboard, two singers and later in the night, a guitar player). They sang everything and the keyboard player played for 4 hours straight. Their set included some Rwandan - this place was apparently a night out for the locals, some French for the tourists, some English 80's and classics for the tourists and some top 40, again I think for the locals who were dancing and drinking. It was nice. And pretty night on top of it.

No pictures today, maybe tomorrow. But just for some eye candy, here's my first souvenir for my niece.

isn't he adorable?! yes please!


  1. aw how cute!

    and now i'm hungry.

    and yes, those are two completely unrelated thoughts.

  2. great post! can't wait to see your pix. i wish we could sit around sipping coffee (or vodka) to dish about your trip to africa... not sure when i'll be in the DC area again, but you def should come to L.A. (yes, i put it out there - ahaha) uh, 1) super cute elephant, and 2) is the fish dish you were thinking about 'sarciado?' (but sarciado is fried and then stewed, right?) i feel bloated. yesplease! *wink*