We have had quite a fulfilling week! New Year’s Day was spent relaxing and catching up, but we did make our first trip to the isoko (market) to exchange money and pick up some lab goods. In contrast to Ghana and the US, the streets are surprisingly garbage-free, but there are people walking everywhere, which gets very overwhelming since most of them just stare at us.
Our Kinyarwandan is steadily improving, thanks to the lack of English speakers and the patience and enthusiasm of our new friends. It is amazing how much we can communicate using only nouns, gestures, and our very limited knowledge of French and Kinyarwandan.
On Wednesday we were able to set up our first “gizmo” which is the very scientific term for our water collection apparatus. With the help of Sakindi and Joseph (said the French way) we successfully hung and secured our first 4-bottle array. We also collected our first water samples from some of the new water tanks installed in the village. There is a table in our room that we have setup as our lab space and the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project lent us an incubator to use for the next 3 weeks. Unfortunately, the microbial tests smell like bad cheese after a day, meaning that the room does also, but we do not mind.
Thursday was gizmo setup #2 and #3. One was on a local roof made of rusty iron sheeting and the other was on a clay tiled potato storage house. As usual, we were constantly being observed by a horde of children who all asked us for “agachupa” (bottle) to which we replied “Oya” (no). Our first microbial results turned out well, although there was some coliform in our drinking water. Luckily there was no E. coli present, and we have strong tummies (no one has gotten sick yet).
Today John Peter (our colleague and translator) was in Kigali, so we were stuck without any English speakers. Our Kinyarwandan vocabulary grew exponentially as a result. We have a meeting later today (in English, I hope) and unconfirmed plans to hike a volcano tomorrow, but all in all everything is going well.
Now we just have to wait for rain.
We hope everyone is well at home and enjoying abundant snow and cold weather (just to rub it in, it has been ~80 degrees and sunny everyday).
Kelly and Bernie