Today was planned to be a quiet day of relaxation prior to our final teaching sessions tomorrow morning and afternoon, and departure tomorrow night. We kind of succeeded. It would all have been well if Paul this morning hadn’t handed me an envelope that he had received yesterday from one of the residents. It contained a check from the University of Rwanda for our expenses traveling to Butare. We realized that we better get it cashed today, or it will never happen. I don’t think my Charlottesville bank will know what to do with a check for 60,000 Rwandan francs drawn on an African bank.
We hoped to get this taken care of at a local bank in Nyamirambo, but no luck: the check was issued by the National Bank of Rwanda, and can only be cashed there. And so our day of rest turned into a long (about an hour) and pretty hot walk all the way to the center of Kigali.
The National Bank is quite imposing, with tight security not dissimilar to an airport. To actually enter the compound you have to push through a rotating door made out of metal bars, which only turns when one of the guards holds a card to a sensor. Inside, though, the building looks more like the lobby of a large hotel than a bank: a huge high hall with seating areas and vines cascading down the walls. We found the right place for check cashing, and after long looks at my passport, and me writing pretty much my whole CV on the back of the check, we received our money.
Getting out also involved going through a revolving door, but this time they had hung the required card on a convenient hook, so that you could let yourself out…
Now flush with money, we decided to go spend it at the Serena hotel, the one true luxury hotel in town, and get a drink there. After the drink, sitting in plush chairs in the air-conditioned Sokoni Café in the hotel, we decided we might as well get lunch as well, and (taking into account Rwandan food prep time) the brief break turned into almost two hours. So we did get our rest after all.
The afternoon has been spent going through the presentation for the case teleconference with UVA tomorrow afternoon and answering emails. In a little while, it’s time to go check out one of Nyamirambo’s little restaurants.
PS 1: Just back from dinner at the Kaskito Pub, a tiny, dark place down the street here that makes the best spiced baked potatoes. Paul had his first chipsi mayai (omelet with fries baked in), an east African favorite.
PS 2: The toilet still flushes! Christophe was right in removing the water tank.
PS 3: Rain pouring down outside, and a lot of power failures…
PS 4: (by Paul) Thanks, from both of us, to all our loyal viewers. At some point we decided that it would be awesome if we managed to get 1000 views before the end of the trip and guess what?!?!? it happened today…thanks to all of you readers out there. What’s more is that you came from 12 different countries!