Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our last weekend in Rwanda

Ron in paradise

We spent our last weekend in Paradise!  We went to Lake Kivu and stayed at Paradis Malahide with Irina, Elena, Tatiana and Alexander.  Lake Kivu is beautiful; we took a boat ride to the island, swam across to the peninsula, and generally relaxed and ate delicious food.  An excellent final weekend.

Alexander and Tatiana

Fishing boat on Lake Kivu

Lizard in Paradise

Final year project presentations

My fourth-year students gave the presentations of their projects on June 30.  

Jean de Dieu and Dieudonne discuss traffic accidents in Kigali City

Monique and Evode modeled population growth

Evode is operating the projector 

Ron asks Milton and Jean Baptist a question about immunization

This is a very big event, with families and friends invited.  They did very good presentations.  Dr. Wali was pleased that they stayed within the allocated time!  Afterward Ron and I went to the home of Evode for a family gathering.  Parties like this always involve people making many speeches; I had to make a speech – I’ve gotten reasonably used to this.  Since most people don’t speak English, Evode’s brother translated to Kinyarwanda.  I had a fine conversation with Evode’s aunt in French – I was very pleased that I could stumble along as well as I could.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Engineers without Borders

Yesterday I went with the Engineers without Borders, Mathis and Donata, plus a civil engineering student, Joseph, to examine a footbridge in the northwest of Rwanda.  It is the Engineers without Borders next project.  Some engineers will be coming from Germany in September to do maintenance work on the bridge, and we were doing preliminary work:  measurements, identification of problems, logistics, to make their work more effective.  We had a KIST pick-up truck and a driver from KIST.  The bridge is about 30 km south of Musanze (aka Ruhengeri) which is near Volcanoes National Park.  That 30 km took about an hour and a half.  It is an unpaved washboard road - the surface was volcanic rock and we got thoroughly shaken.  Mathis, Donata and Joseph examined the bridge for problems; I numbered sections of the bridge so they could tell the next group exactly where the problems were. I numbered sections from 1 to 39 but I left out 26.  I should have used my calculator.  Here are a few pictures of the bridge and the surroundings.

It's a serious river the bridge crosses

Mathis is measuring the amount of sag when there are people on the bridge

The children from this village must cross the bridge to get to school
The bridge is missing some boards and sways a great deal.   Joseph conducted a meeting with the people in the village; they had much to say about it.  They will be very happy to have it repaired. 

I'm a TA now!

I don't have any classroom duties during June, so I told the head of department I'd do whatever was needed.  This semester they have tutorial assistants (TAs) (they had none last semester, as KIST tried an unsuccessful cost-cutting measure), but one TA is in the U.S. and will not be back until the end of June.  So I am being a TA - I have 6 hours of tutorial, plus I attend the 4 hours of lecture that go with it.  It keeps me out of trouble.  I actually enjoy it a great deal - I do problems, help students, but have none of the planning or grading to do.  The best part of teaching.  Maybe that will be my next career.

Monday, May 30, 2011


This morning we went out to breakfast.  I had a ham, cheese and tomato Panini on a croissant at La Galeta, a German bakery and cafe, in Kigali.

A visit from Annie and James

Annie and James came for a visit.  They were here a bit over a week, and now they are back in Massachusetts.   While they were here we went to visit with the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and we went to Akagera.  We also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the market near KIST, two  artisan cooperatives and a pottery maker.  We kept us and them pretty busy. 
Gorilla trekking was fantastic.  We left Kigali at 4:00 a.m. and drove (were driven) to the north-west part of the country.  It was a nice drive, our driver was full of information, and stopped to let us photograph the countryside. 

The earth seems to be much richer in this part of the country and the farms looked really productive.  We had a long and strenuous climb up the mountain – we had been put in the group for the ‘easy’ hike but the gorillas moved, so we had a much longer and more difficult hike than anticipated.   
It was an absolutely beautiful hike through the forest, and then we got to hang out with some other primates for a while.  The gorillas pretty much ignored us – a couple of babies seemed to be showing off while on their mothers’ backs but the older gorillas just went about their daily business and paid no attention to that other primate pack nearby.  They must be really used to it. 

We were pretty tired at the end of the trip.  We took things pretty easy the next day. 

On Monday we went to Akagera again.  We saw an elephant!  It’s right there at the edge of the water in this picture.  It turns out that elephants look like small black rocks.
Here are a few more pictures from Akagera.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Annie and James arrived yesterday.  After 24 hours of travel with no sleep, they were extremely tired.  So we will start our explorations today