Early in the week I had dinner with Chantal who was our housekeeper. She is now in school studying hospitality while working 2 jobs. With Chantal, everything was the same and we shared some food a few stories before she had to moto off to school, I hope she successfully explained to her teacher that she was late because of me.
Today I met up with Patrice who was one of our guards. Patrice has just finished business school and passed the examination to be a public accountant. He was dressed in his finest because the public accounting association was going to recognize his achievement in the afternoon. Again with Patrice everything was the same only now, he has the skills and advanced certification to get a well-paying job and hopefully a permanent job
I've also caught up with some of the KHI faculty. They are the same but the institution is no longer Kigali Health Institute as it is now the University of Rwanda, College of Medical and Health Science. From what I can tell the name and organizational change has added many new layers of bureaucracy and has not been positive for the physio department. When I was a visiting professor there were 8-9 faculty, now there are 3! Spending a bit of time with Juvenal was a highlight but finding him was a trick. The faculty offices have been moved off of the campus to the new Kigali City Tower, an expensive high-rise in center city Kigali. On the visit I got to ride in my first Rwandan elevator in this very fancy, upscale and expensive office building that appears at least 1/2 empty. I can't imagine how they will fill the other 6 planned high-rise buildings that are going to surround Kigali City Tower. The noisy area where we used to pick up buses is now a quiet downtown street.
I've visited some new areas of the city. The other night we took our local grant coordinator, a man named Bernard and his wife to Green Corner to eat the amazing slow-grilled fish. Good thing his wife arrived early to make the order because I've heard from some people that it can take 2-3 hours to get the fish. When it comes, you wash your hands and dig in. I was so stuffed I couldn't eat again until late the next day.
I've had much more luck with food on this trip. Not because Kigali is suddenly a gourmet city but because I know how to find things I like and how to avoid all else. Aside from brochette, mangos, avocado, maracuja and bananas this time there were some new spots at which to eat and some new foods. One afternoon while running between hospitals I grabbed a smoothie at the new Hero - quite delicious avocado, ginger, mango and coconut milk made to order by the "smoothie girls" in what looked very much like a Vitamix
The biggest transformations here have been to the roadways and buildings around the city. There are far more high rises, tarmac streets and traffic lights than previously. I think I may even have seen a crosswalk. Gratefully the very old tree at the top of our street across from Parliament still stands. In a city bent on changing an old tree is a miraculous find.