Monday, September 20, 2010
Yesterday I went to my Rwandan families’ house for dinner as usual but I went earlier than normal. And so they sat me down and then just left me for 2 hours. Therefore I got to watch the umucozi cook the meal. First she lit the charcoal stove and let the fire grow. Once the fire was a descent size a pot of water was placed on top to boil. When the water boiled it was moved to a plastic jug. Now the pot is empty and oil is added to cover about ½ in the bottom (way too much oil in my professional opinion). Anyway the oil sizzles and a small amount of red onions are added. A small amount of tomato paste is added, like about 3 heaping tablespoons (not nearly enough for an american“tomato sauce”). Then an entire bag of spaghetti, broken into 3 parts is added and stirred. (Keep in mind there is no water in the pot just oil, onions, and tomato paste with the pasta. In about 5 minutes they decide water is an important factor and the boiling water that was poured into the plastic jug earlier is now added to the pasta. Then it’s left to cook. For the “salad” the umucozi cut up white onions into tiny slices and added a ton of vinegar and sugar. And there you have salad to go with your spaghetti and sauce. (It was not too great but I ate it out of politeness. Surprisingly the noodles were pretty good though I’m sure my standards have dropped dramatically from living here. And that was my night of watching the umucozi cook at my Rwandan families’ home.
Last week was IST, which stands for In-Service Training. It is a training the Peace Corps gives volunteers after 3-6 months of living at site. For us it was 4 months after we arrived at site. Kibuye is a beautiful lake side city, overlooking Lake Kivu (the lake between Congo and Rwanda). It is an easy 2 hours away from my site. We stayed at a hotel right on the water, though there was no hot water so don’t worry it wasn’t very fancy. It was so peaceful and relaxing. The training was to discuss our challenges and how people have overcome them. Our supervisors or counterparts were there to help strengthen the partnership between the Peace Corps volunteers and the NGO’s. Many other volunteers have had trouble with their organizations making them work 10 hour days or not letting volunteers get to integrate into their community. I have not had these problems, and I really enjoy working with Duhamic Adri. They are very flexible and listen to my idea’s and let me do what I want to do. After problems were discussed and everyone got to talk about how things were going at their site, we got to spend most of Wednesday just hanging out on an island playing volleyball and swimming. It was a great time.
Well a while ago I got to have an amazing experience, one I have been wishing for since arriving in Rwanda. It started out at my friends host family, I really like them so I visit and so do many others. One this particular occasion there were 4 of us visiting. We like to cook them American food. Like grilled cheese and tomato soup, today though we decided on egg and cheese sandwiches. So we brought the ingredients to make them to their house as we usually do. The family never trusts our cooking so they always accompany our food with Rwandan food as well like beans, rice or pasta. So anyway on this particular day they really wanted to feed us chicken. This meant that we got to watch the entire process of making chicken sounds gross but it was really cool to watch. They had a ton of chickens running around their back yard so they grabbed one. Then flipped its wings so it could only sit on the floor is could not move anywhere. It was kinda sad really, we watched the chicken struggle to move many times until finally it accepted its fate and just sat still. The chickens feed were also tied up during this. Then, the chicken was picked up by its legs and with a knife the head was slowly cut off. It was not chopped of quickly maybe the knife was too dull for that or something. It was slow and blood poured out. Then the entire chicken was stick into a bucket of boiling water. And the feathers were plucked off. They even saved the head and plucked the feather off its head too. Then once the chicken was completely bare it was brought to the table to be cut open. The process reminded me of freshman year biology when we had to dissect things. They cut the chest open and we saw the liver, heart, intestines and stuff. They threw almost nothing away everything was put into a pot to cook. They cut the legs into 2 and the wings and the breast. Just like all the pieces of chicken we eat. It was put in the pot then a small amount of tomato paste was added and a lot of water. 2 hours later we ate chicken, the freshest I’ve ever had!