Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do you want sunscreen?

Saturday, July 16

"Y'all act like you've never seen a white person before."

I wanted to make that the title of this post, but I don't like it when the title doesn't fit on one line. (OCD much?) For those of you who don't know, it's an Eminem lyric, but I think it describes my day at the lake very well.

After breakfast at the convent, we piled into the bus to head to Bea's hotel, which was conveniently located across the street from the public beach. While Kiela, Tyler and I were changing into our swimsuits, everyone else left to find a spot on the beach (gee, thanks guys). We couldn't find them, so we staked out our own spot, and I got in the water right away. The Rwandan students had warned us it would be cold, but I didn't really believe them. There is a common misconception that California beaches are warm. Not true. At least, not in the top half of the state. Our water does come down from Alaska, you know. So every time someone tells me water is cold, I don't really believe them. And I was right; the lake was a perfect temperature. Cool enough to be refreshing but not so cold that I was uncomfortable.

What did make me uncomfortable, however, is when a young boy walked by as Kiela was helping me apply sunscreen and stuck out his hand. I was nervous that he wanted to put sunscreen on me, like Kiela was doing. I wasn't really sure what to do, so I just squeezed a little dollop onto his palm. He smiled and walked away, rubbing the sunscreen onto his bare head. That started a little line of boys who filed past as I gave them each a little bit of sunscreen. Then it was amusing, not uncomfortable.

Kiela and I did attract quite a crowd on the beach, however. Not only were we the only women we could see on the beach, but we were white and in bikinis. Scandalous! I tried to keep myself pretty submerged in the lake because I didn't want to offend anyone with my bare, pale stomach. This group of boys hung around for a while, and one even started singing Soulja Boy. Of course, Kiela and I began doing the dance in the water, and they all laughed at us.

 Yup, that's us. Shining bright ... awfully bright.

After a while, we felt a little uncomfortable with the large group of men who had congregated on the beach and were staring at us, so we went back to Bea's hotel, where she had graciously paid for us to go swimming in the pool. She also invited us to order a soda at the bar on her tab, so we lay by the pool with our feet in the water and sipped our Fanta (or Coke) until everyone else got back from their mysterious location on the beach.

By then, it was time to have lunch at a nearby restaurant and head back to Kigali. On the way, we drove right next to the border of Democratic Republic of Congo. So exciting! (This is one country we were told to stay away from.)
Border gate to Goma, DRC! 

We had a little break to nap and unpack when we got back to the apartments, and then it was off to eat again. (Sometimes I feel like all we do is eat!) My mom's flight got in while we were at dinner, so I dropped a note off at her hotel telling her I would come by after dinner. (It was like the days before cell phones! Quite the cultural experience haha.) When I got to the hotel later that night and called up to her room, she was already in bed. Apparently she asked if there was a note for her at the desk, and they didn't give it to her. But we made plans to meet up in the morning for breakfast at the hotel, and I headed back to the apartment to finish out our last official day of the program with my roomies, on the couch watching music videos.

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