Monday, May 14, 2012

27 Days in America

Rwanda -- USA -- Rwanda all in 27 days.  It doesn't sound like a short trip, until you try to get back into life on both ends of the spectrum.

On April 12th I left Rwanda.  It was time.  I was supposed to come home in January and then March, finally April rolled around, we didn't get the movie into Tribeca but it was time.  There were so many things the Team needed, we hadn't restocked since September.  Personally, I was spent, tired and ready to have a little space, quiet, first world amenities.  Most of all I wanted to ride my bike.  I ride in Rwanda.  I ride quite a bit actually, 100-125 miles a week and it is the most stressful hours of my week.  Riding is supposed to be zen for me, but the constant press of people, fear of hitting a pedestrian on my bike, getting hit with rocks, corn cobs or spit on pretty much erases any zen to be had.  Just give me peace on a bike and I can reset and start again.

Or so I thought....

America was nice, very nice, too nice.  I was part of film screenings for our documentary, Rising From Ashes, at a penthouse in San Francisco, a spectacular home in Scottsdale, Arizona and my friend's gorgeous home in Las Vegas. I stayed with our film editor, Elisa, and her wonderful Italian husband and son in a secluded home in Topanga Canyon filled with cats and dogs and tons of love and food.  I adore Italians.

I was part of Doug Grant's 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda again this year in Southern California where he raised $100,000 at this one day event of which Team Rwanda received almost $60,000!  We live to train another day thanks to Doug, Sandy and all his amazing volunteers and all the people who came out to ride.

We stayed with some very special friends in Arizona who made life PERFECT for four days.  

And in between all these jaunts around the southwest, I landed back in Las Vegas to hang out with friends and catch up with family.

For 27 days I rode in peace in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

One day in Arizona I looked at Jock and said with all seriousness, "I'm not ready to go back.  I'm really not."

That evening we screened the film for a group of friends and supporters in Scottsdale.  As I watched the film I thought to myself...."I'm ready, we can go back now."

Life is hard here, very hard, it is the hardest adventure I have ever tackled.  I am not complaining.  I have freewill and can leave tomorrow.  It is just a statement of fact.  Arriving back in Rwanda I realized how important it is for me to stay.  It is not time to go....yet.

My ex husband saw the documentary the night before I left the US.  I am not sure if it answered some questions for him or helped him understand why I did what I did leaving three years ago.  He sent me this video link in an email I received right before my plane took off from Newark.  

I think he understands.  He is right...all of these riders have changed me....forever.

See, that's the problem.  As much as some days I crave the normality and ease of life back home, it is never enough to make me leave.  Oh, today I thought about how nice it would be to get on the next plane out of here, several times.  In the past 72 hours we have had several hour plus long electricity outages, it is rainy season and extremely cold and damp.  It smells like wet tennis shoes mildewing on the back my bedroom.  I have had one ride since Tuesday.  On the ride a kid swung a bamboo stick at me.  Kiki turned around and the kids scattered but not before Kiki broke the urchin's stick in half.  Today we were out of water 90% of the day.  I managed to get enough of a dribble out of the back bathroom faucet and by filling buckets and dumping them into the washer I managed to get a load of laundry 5 hours.  I finally got it out on the line and then it rained.  It had been sunny all morning....ugh!

Then the water went out completely.  No dribbles.  I have four people staying at the house, no water, how am I supposed to cook?  Fourteen riders show up tomorrow for camp!

Everything on the internet has taken hours when it should have taken minutes.  I have no idea what is going on.  The internet in Rwanda is slower than the US but not THIS slow.  To send an email I would hit send, walk down the hall, dump a half full dribble bucket of water into the washer, come back, make a cup of coffee and it would send.  How I long for the days of dial up...that would be rocket fast compared to today!

There were two mechanics here all today fixing one of the motorbikes and our still broken down Ford Explorer.  The Explorer has sat in the driveway with the hood cracked open, immovable for the past three months.  Today, the mechanic put on yet another set of parts from America and finally he yanked the catalytic converter and muffler off and it runs great.  A little loud but it moves.  However, in the process of getting in and out of the car to test the motor he broke the door handle and the door won't open or close from outside or inside the car.  We noticed this about 8:00pm tonight.  All I could do was laugh....and tip the box again.  (Code for have another glass of bad South African boxed wine)

I walk in the bedroom to go to bed, flip on the light, it burns out and the base of the light bulb is stuck in the socket.  Seriously?   Damn cheap Chinese crap!

I lay in bed, tossing and turning my mind is racing and there it is, that sound!  zzzzzzzzz mosquitoes....

....and I left Las Vegas for this?

Yes, and as frustrating and exhausting as just one day can be here I know this....

This adventure has prepared me for all things tough in life.  Bring it!

The moments of joy are so profound simply because they are balanced with days of excruciating mental beat downs.

Zulu is the most awesome dog in the world!  He keeps me sane.

I have some great friends who also understand life here.  One friend is trying to save the orphan gorillas in the DRC right now.  Rebels are fighting again, rangers are being killed, everyone is in danger, refugees are fleeing to Goma.  And I'm having water issues?  

And really?  What would I do in Las Vegas?  Get a "real" job and live in my ex husband's spare bedroom?  I am completely unqualified for anything remotely resembling normal.

Yes, these guys have changed me.  I don't have to love Rwanda and the harshness of life here  to love them.  Camp starts tomorrow and life moves forward with or without water.  However....

God, it's me, Kim.  I pray for water....from the faucet.  There are 14 boys, who ride, and sweat and we have two toilets.  Maybe I forgot to specify the other day when I prayed for no water.  I meant no more rain, which thank you for the sun earlier today!  If it be your will....can I please have water from the faucet tomorrow? 

1 comment:

  1. Muraho Kim:

    Thanks for this blog. It brought me right back to my own Musanze days. You articulate the "excruciating mental beat downs" so well. Keep up the good work.

    All the best, Laura