Yesterday Was Crazy

Yesterday was crazy even by PCV standards.

I left my house at 5:30am to go to Kigali for a meeting. I took a motorcycle to my regional town where I caught a bus. At one of the stops, two very obviously drunk, heavily made up women stumbled on to the bus, laughing loudly, one holding a beer bottle and the other a gin bottle. This behavior, especially for women, is not common at all in Rwanda! Somewhat incongruosly, one was wearing a yellow t-shirt and a tight yellow sweatpants while the other was wearing a cocktail dress with large armholes that showed much of the side of her torso and most of her bra.

They took seats in the back and had a non-stop, top-of-their-voices conversation for most of the rest of the trip. It was, as Homer Simpson said once, “just drunk talk. sweet, sweet drunk talk.”

They kept yelling up to the driver: “Driver, stop the car, we want to buy beer!” Then they would yell out the windows to people we passed “Hey you! Sell me a beer!” Whenever the bus stopped to pick up a passenger they tried to stagger off the bus but other passengers blocked their way and put them back in their seat.

They noticed the other passengers laughing at them and complained to each other plaintively: “Sweety, they’re laughing at us!” “Honey, I know! Why do they laugh at us?” They focused on a young teenager who had been staring fixedly at them, turned around in her seat. “Don’t laugh at us little girl! Maybe if you were a man you could laugh at us but not you, little girl!”

Eventually, they started yelling, “Driver, we have to pee!” over and over. When he didn’t stop they began threatening to pee in the aisles, accusing the driver of bad “customer care.”

Finally, they fell asleep, bottles clutched in their hands.

After the meeting I went to downtown Kigali to do some shopping. Kigali is a safe city; I’m often less cautious about protecting my belongings there than I would be in several European cities I’ve visited. I almost got taught a lesson about that today.

Walking down the street, I had stuck my wallet in the front pocket of my jeans, carrying a bag in each hand. Suddenly, a man grabbed my elbow, drawing my attention. Meanwhile his partner grabbed my wallet from my pocket. Luckily, I felt it happened and turned around yelling at him. Immediately,  he handed the wallet back to me and took off running, evading the grasp of the people trying to catch him like a football player running in for a touchdown. My hands were shaking and heart racing as I accepted the apologies of the people who had watched what happened and kept going on my way. I kept my wallet safe at the bottom of my bag after that.

I got on a bus to go back home. Because I was among the first passengers to board, I got a single seat by the window. Later, as the bus filled somebody took the fold-down aisle seat next to me. A couple of hours into the trip I turned my head and noticed she had her igitenge wrap over her head. She had her mouth held to some sort of container and was silently vomiting. Although her poor shoulders moved up and down as she retched, she made no sound at all. When she finished, she took a minute to collect her self, took the fabric off her head, wiped her mouth and sat composedly in the seat, still never having made a sound.

Later during the bus ride, I started thinking about how sometimes, in utero, one of a set of twins will die and be absorbed into the body of the other. Then, sometimes, the surviving twin will have a finger, or ear or something protruding from some part of his body, a remnant of the other twin. I don’t know what made me think of that. But then, a mother and her baby sat down. As the baby grasped my hand (curious about my white skin) I saw that the had the tip of an extra finger, complete with a narrow sliver of fingernail, attached to the side of his hand by a thin strip of skin. Isn’t that crazy? Polydactylism is not the same as twin absorption, I know, but it’s still quite coincidental.

So, there you go, drunk chicks in the morning, pickpockets in Kigali, silent bus vomiters and twin absorption. All in a day’s work for this PCV.


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