Independence Day and general observations

Trip Start Jun 27, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2009

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Flag of Burundi  ,
Saturday, July 5, 2008

My first full day in Bujumbura happened to be Burundian Independence Day, July 1st, and so I got to watch a wee bit of the parade (there's only one as far as I know, at least here in Bujumbura).  Unlike parades in the U.S., there weren't any floats or clowns or loud, colorful characters of that nature, but it consisted mostly of groups of people representing companies or associations walking behind a sign wearing ordinary work clothes.  There were, however, some groups of really fascinating drummers wearing traditional African dress. After a nap (I spent quite a bit of time napping during my first few days here as my body adjusted to a time zone nine hours away from the one I was used to), I woke up and watched part of the President's speech on the local television station, but as I speak only about 4 words in Kirundi right now, I didn't gain much from it - well, actually I didn't gain any knowledge at all from it - and decided not to see it through to completion.  Call me a quitter if you must. 
In an attempt to summarize my first week in Burundi, here are a number of observations I've made:
1.      People drive on the right side of the road, like in the U.S., but most, though not all, of the cars driven here have the driver on the right side of the car, like in the UK.
2.      No observable traffic laws exist, but bicyclists, pedestrians and all forms of motor vehicles share the same roadways, many of which aren't actually paved.  
3.      A honking car horn can mean just about anything.
4.      Mzungus (white people) are highly respected, though still considered a bit freakish, and must be loudly pointed out in case anyone misses them sticking out of the crowd.
5.      Mzungus are assumed to be French speaking here since the colonialists in this part of the world were Belgian and therefore spoke French.
6.      A bicycle can carry much more than we assume it can in the U.S. 7.      Pain au chocolat (bread with chocolate) tastes amazing!!!
8.      We should never ever take the internet for granted.
9.      Rainstorms in the "dry" season beat anything Phoenix has in its "wet" season.
10.  The chasm between the privileged and the poor is enormous.
11.  Burundians are extremely welcoming and hospitable.
So, those are the highlights from my first few days here.  I hope all is well with you, my dear friends.

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kathyannelucas on

From Kathy on July 7
Your pictures and comments from Africa are so interesting! Sounds like you are going to settle in rather quickly.

I'm encouraging everyone to register to get your updates. I think a lot of them don't understand how it works.

Hope this week is encouraging for you. Know you must be at least a little bit homesick. I'm sure it gives you a whole new understanding of missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Gladys Aylward, who went to the field with no contact with home for months at a time and no hope of visiting for years - if ever.

Let your light shine.


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