Sunday, January 15, 2012

A safe arrival, and an exciting first day!

Greetings from Rwanda!!!

After a 24 hour delay, I arrived safe and sound in Rwanda! My journey wasn't the smoothest in the world, however. Since the first flight leaving Burlington to Newark was delayed, my flight was expected to be delayed as well, so they bumped me up to the earlier flight which was expected to leave at about the time my original flight was supposed to depart. That flight left 2 hours after the time they originally said, which made it so that my layover time in Newark was slim to none. Once the plane landed in newark, I booked it to my gate only to find out that there were some mechanical difficulties and we would be delayed an hour and a half. This was no big deal because I was supposed to have a 4 hour layover in Brussels before my flight to Rwanda left. That mechanical problem led to another problem, and we were left waiting there for another three and a half hours. By the time we took off I knew I was going to miss my flight to Rwanda. So, I stayed the night in a hotel right across the airport in Brussels, and met some really cool people who were all traveling to Rwanda and other places alike. Hopefully I'll meet up with some of them while I'm here. 
View down the street from the gate to our house.

Once I got to my house, I felt so excited and wide awake even though it was 8:00pm. I organized all my things and the stuff for the center, and chatted with Elena for a long time. I don't think I fell asleep until 2:00am. Because I slept so much on the flight over, I woke up at 5:30 to the birds outside. After a slow and relaxing morning, we set out for the city to exchange some money, check out the market, and meet up with Willy, a good friend of ours from the center who we met in 2009. It was really nice to see him!

When we were on our way back on the first bus, people were talking about a soccer game that was going to start in a half hour. We decided it would be a fun thing to do, so the three of us got off at the next stop and walked to Amahoro Stadium to see Police VS. Rayon Sports. Most of the fans in the stadium were cheering for Rayon Sports. On our walk over we saw multiple men, dressed in the team colors with their faces and bodies painted blue and white, walking down to streets blowing the Vuvuzela. You could feel the excitement in the air. When we got to the gates to pay for our tickets, it was really chaotic. There were a lot of young boys going around begging for money to get into the game. I felt really uncomfortable pulling out my wallet (that was packed with money I just exchanged a few hours earlier) in front of all the boys who were begging for money. I put my money away promptly, and Elena paid for the three of us to make it easier. I paid her back once we got in. I learned that in a situation like that, you should already have the amount of money you need separated out so it's easy to get to without others seeing how much money you really have.

Elena, Willy, and I at the game!
Here's a perfect example of one of the boys we saw parading down the street. He had 3 noise makers and a Vuvuzela . A large blue robe, and a wig. Another boy had jeans that were ripped into strips and painted blue and white with his upper body and head also pointed blue and white. These people go all out. It reminded me of the all-out fans at an American Football game.

The stadium was packed with fans and roaring with noise makers. There was one section that was especially rowdy. Willy told us that it was section 17 and it is where many of the trouble makers sit for the game. They were all dressed with full team color attire. They even had an Israeli flag because it was the team colors. I'm almost positive all of them were christian. He said that section gets dangerous when the team they are cheering for is losing. He told us that sometimes they used to jump from the stadium seating onto the field and run after the players. Now that section is guarded by many policemen to prevent such events from happening. 

Section 17
My favorite part about the game was hearing the cheers after a goal was scored. After a few minutes of a loud roar, the crowd would break into song, and sooner than later the entire stadium (or at least the fans of the scoring team) would be singing the same thing. It was easy to join in because they weren't singing words, but they would sing a general tune and yell "HEY!" It felt like a big party.

Rayon Sports ended up winning 3-1, so the fans were all excited and ready to party the night away. Willy told us that the crazy fans would all be drinking for the rest of the night celebrating. He also pointed out that the fans of the losing team had to be escorted out to avoid fights between the rival team's fans. The Rayon fans went parading down the streets singing. It was a really neat and fun experience!

Tomorrow is my first day at the center. I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing, but I know I'm getting another tour because a lot has changed since the last time I was there. Elena said we might get to organize the store room that holds a lot of the donations the center receives. I'm excited to get started at the center and meet all the boys living there.

So far I've got a great refreshment of Rwanda, and I'm thoroughly excited to be here for the next three months!


  1. Hey Ally - so glad you finally made it to Rwanda. I look forward to reading about all the adventures you and Elena will be experiencing together! Enjoy!!
    Elena's Mom

  2. Your Aunt Pat sent me your blog info. I am really looking forward to following your adventures. You sound so happy and excited. It was so nice to meet up with you again and talk with you at Janet's house in NJ. Good luck. Joan (from New Hampshire)