Saturday, October 31, 2009

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

I heard this phrase years ago, most likely from someone watching me deal with the fourteen spinning plates in my life. When you have so much to do in life, so many responsibilities, so many people pulling from all different directions how do you wrap your head around it? When I look at my ever growing "To Do" list accompanied by the new "Must Do" list I want to crawl back into bed and sleep. I've been in avoidance mode for two days now and it's time to sit down at the table and start eating that small bite at a time.

I got back from Zambia Saturday afternoon. Jenny and I flew through Nairobi where we not only met up with my sister, Danielle, who was flying from Dakar to Rwanda through Nairobi, but also Team Rwanda returning from the Tour of Senegal. Go figure, we all end up in the Nairobi airport at the same time. After hanging out for 6+ hours we finally head to Rwanda. Jenny and I had left Lusaka, Zambia at midnight the night before, flew an hour to Harare, Zimbabwe, then three hours to Nairobi all the while I'm smashed in a window seat with no escape and no extra seats. My claustrophobia was a minute by minute taming of the irrational fear beast. Needless to say, sleep was not in the cards.

We landed in Rwanda around 1:00pm, left Jenny with Mike at the airport, picked up my car, dropped off my iPhone, which had died in Zambia, to the local hacker and then went and had much needed pedicures. Hey, I might live in Africa and traipse through the farms, but I'm still a girl!

We finally got home to Ruhengeri early evening, pulling into our driveway hearing the inescapable sounds of Max and European techno music blaring in the garage. It was good to be home and good to know Max was home too. I hadn't seen Max since he left in mid August when he returned to France for a couple of months to decompress.

Jock in the meantime had left Dakar after the Tour of Senegal, spent a day in Brussels and was back in the US to attend Tom's wedding. It's funny to think that at any given moment all four of us plus the Team were somewhere in the air over Africa or the Atlantic. The airlines were loving us the past couple of weeks!

Sunday I finally got back on my had been almost a week. Never ever a good thing! Danielle and I took the mountain bikes out with Max and got totally muddy. We had about a three hour reprieve from the rain and made a break for it.

Monday morning, during a break from the rain, I took Danielle to Gisenyi for lunch and a 20 minute sun filled lounge on the beach at Lake Kivu. Danielle had just spent four weeks in The Gambia volunteering at a local hospital teaching ultrasound. She had had very intermittent electricity and had learned the joys of bucket bathing so although we were not really do a whole lot during her time in Rwanda, I think just having a shower, a little less intermittent electricity, and food other than rice, was good enough for her.

Jenny returned from Kigali Monday night. She came back to help with a bike tour I was doing on Tuesday morning with Michael Kollins from World Bicycle Relief, and Vipin and Kruti, some friends of a friend who are in the midst of a six month world travel excursion. Tuesday morning the three of them, Max and Kiki, riding the new tandem mountain bike, Danielle, Jenny and I headed out. The weather was perfect, no rain a little sun, a little warm, we totally caught a break. When we got back to the house, I helped my sister secure a gorilla pass for the next day to go trekking with Michael, Vipin, and Kruti, got everyone settled in the house and ran around trying to get some work done before heading to Kigali to pick up Jock who was returning from the US.

So, I pawn my sister off on Johnny Muzungu for the night, load Jenny, Kiki and his bike in the car, run to Kigali, drop them off in rush hour traffic, cut back across town to check on my iPhone which is still unhackable, then to the airport. There are days like this when I'm just overwhelmed running everyone around and hearing that nagging voice in my head, "have you done your work today". Some days, it just isn't possible. There are not enough hours, enough people to help and enough conveniences in Africa to make that happen. Jock and I finally head out from Kigali around 9:00pm back to Ruhengeri. Although it's good to have Jock back because it takes some of the day to day work off my plate, the feeling is a little short lived as I know he gets back on a plane to Namibia in less than a week for the Continental Championships.

Wednesday, I finally get through my 100 urgent emails, talk to Felix about his bicycle road show proposal, hammer him about the 80+ sales we have somewhere in the pipeline and express the urgency of closing some of the sales. Also, I need a mechanic to come to Kigali to assemble 15 bikes for distribution and Max will be in Namibia. Jock's still in bed at noon when I have to go pick up the freelance reporter who's coming to interview him about the Team. I can only imagine how jet lag funky he's feeling at this point with two trips back and forth from California to Africa in the past two weeks.

Wednesday night we have dinner with Anna Reed and Tom Allen from Bridge to Rwanda. Anna is leaving in a few days for two months back in the US. It is a great dinner with amazingly great people and I literally cannot keep my eyes open. As we're finishing dinner, the electricity goes out so Danielle and I decide to spend the night at Jock's since for some reason he had electricity. At 3:00am I wake up to lights on, chairs moving in the living room and I walk out to see Jock rerouting the electrical cords for the computers and crawling around on the floor. Jet lag is a amazing thing to view in action. He is almost "manic" cleaning the house, unpacking. I totally know what he's experiencing. At 4:30, after helping me unpack and talking about all the things we need to catch up on, (like I'm going to remember the visa question for Max we discussed at 4:15am), I head back to bed.

Thursday morning we get up...again...and race around the house trying to finish some last minute things before heading to Gitarama. The Team has a sponsorship appearance with Fina Bank at the opening of their new branch in Gitarama about 2 1/2 hours from Ruhengeri. Kiki was supposed to be there with Obed and Nathan. We decide to all go for the day, since Danielle had to catch the 3:00am Kenya Airways flight home later that night. When we get to Kigali and the intersection to the road to Gitarama we call Kiki and find out he's training the opposite direction from where we are. He completely blew off the event. We call Nathan, he's working. Obed is our last shot and luckily he lives in Kigali and he's home. We grab him throw him in the car and head to Gitarama. At this point, Jock and I are so irritated with another example of Rwandan lack of follow through. This is not the first time and surely won't be the last. As we race to Gitarama, we are speeding around a corner and see a guy in a Wooden Bike Classic tshirt waving at us and yelling. It's Daniel, a former Team Rwanda rider. We turn around, ask him if he still has a jersey and we throw him in the car. Looks like Daniel will be speaking about Team Rwanda at the event! He completely broke the stress in the car. How could we not just laugh, it was truly comical.

The event in Gitarama went great, Daniel was the hit of the Children's Home. Obed and Daniel talked about their stories and then answered questions, once again, I had no idea what they were saying but the looks on the children's faces said it all. This is such good experience for the riders to give something back to their communities. Even if they're not actually a rider anymore!

We got back into Kigali about 7:00pm, met up with Jenny, did some passport pictures for Max for his Visa...yes, Max is having visa issues AGAIN. He's going to Namibia, however, his visa for Rwanda is a single entry visa. Now we have to figure out how to get him back into Rwanda after Namibia. Why can't he be American?

We finally got to the airport around 9:00pm after a great dinner. Jock, Danielle and I hung out until about 10:30 and then sorry to say, Jock and I left her there and headed home. We finally got in around 12:30 in the morning. A few hours of sleep then Jock gets back on the motorbike at 10:30 Friday and heads back to Kigali for a meeting just making it back to Ruhengeri by 2:30 to meet some guests that had come in from Technoserve, a potentially great partner for Project/Team Rwanda.

I guess it's no wonder I slept to 9:45 this morning....and now, I must eat that first bite, well, second, posting this blog was my first!

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