OZAPATO Adventure man goes to the market in Rwanda
Living in rural Rwanda can sometimes be tedious on the taste buds. The humanitarian work I carry out here in East Africa requires me to live on a site based between two small villages in the Eastern province of the country. Though all meals are provided by the organization that I’m employed with, it makes a nice change to go to the market and fire up the stove and cook for myself every once in a while.
Every Tuesday and Friday, a local market selling fresh fruit and vegetables opens up in Rubona – a little Village located about 20 minutes walk from my home. Before setting off along the dusty red-dirt road for Rubona, I’ll often pick up breakfast from the small shop located just outside my house. Betty, the store owner, has usually all but handed over a bag containing a stash of Ibiraha (potato samosas) before I even get through the door.
The walk to Rubona is always interesting. I’ll often be greeted by the local kids with phrases such as “Good Morning”, “What is your name?” and, Give me money !” Many of Rubona’s residents are very much say what that see people, and so on any given trip to the market, I’ll hear the word “muzungu” uttered around 10-15 times. After speaking to some of my Rwandese colleagues, the word “muzungu” seems to translate to something like “rich European.”
Being one of very few “muzungus” here in rural Rwanda, even a casual trip to the market always draws a crowd. Today, for example, I was followed by somewhere around 30 kids who insisted on having their photos taken. I’ll usually indulge them by taking a few snaps and then presenting their picture to them on the screen. It’s always a nice moment that produces lots of giggles.
Upon arriving at the market, many of the merchants clock the “muzungu” sticking out like a saw thumb and try to draw my attention to their groceries. There’s a profusion of fresh tomatoes, onions, green peppers, beets, cabbage, potatoes, bananas, avocados and so much more. Typically, I will pick up a week’s worth of groceries for around 2500 Rwandan Francs (£2.32, $3.30).
Once my bag is practically spilling out fruit and vegetables, I’ll make my way to the Village centre where the motorbikes taxis are parked. For the journey home, motorbike taxis or “motos” are pretty much the only option if you don’t want to lug all of your groceries with you whilst walking in the baking hot sun. Aaaah the moto taxi. The nimble, traffic weaving bane of the male reproductive system. My own experiences have ranged from leisurely drives through the Rwandan capital, to off-road hell rides of death.