Dinner every day is close to a four-hour affair. Tonight, Sophie and I started cooking the rice a little past six while June was out visiting Kigogo with Pete. Joey and Max, meanwhile, worked on calculations for civils designs. “Civils” refers to the larger, structural parts of the system, like the channel that brings water to the turbine. Joey and Max eventually left for the market and bought around 1500RWF in groceries, roughly three dollars US. This is enough to feed the eight of us for the night.
Cooking with the open wood-burning stove has made us think of the bioenergy team and their previous initiative for clean cook stoves. The stoves that we cook with spew smoke, and although we open the windows and the door, it’s uncomfortable to be in front of the fire for a long time. The smoke bothers me, and I often have to step out of the room for a breath, but I notice that our Rwandan counterparts are unfazed.
Pascal is a student from the Kigali Institute of Technology that has been working on the sites with us, and he seems completely unfazed by the smoke. Jeremiah, a long-time DHE contact in Banda and a doctor in the village health clinic, and Pete, our foreman, can indefinitely continue to stoke the fire and peel potatoes in the small kitchen.
For the people cooking with it every day, the smoke can be lethal. Over the years, the air pollution takes a serious toll on their health. Because they’re not bothered by the smoke, there’s also little incentive to look for alternatives. Jeremiah’s petroleum-fueled stove sits next to the wood stove, but he leaves is unused. As a doctor, he has one of the highest incomes in the villages and is the most conscious about his own health, but still, the price of petroleum is too high.
Once we finished cooking, it was past 8:30 and we wolfed down the food. Two nights ago, we talked with Pascal, Jeremiah, and Pete about marriage and relationships in Rwanda, the overturn on gay marriage in the US, and the expansion of the universe. It was a great night. Tonight, as we finished our dinner, Pete announced that we’d be learning more Kinyarwanda. We pulled out our notebooks and turned on our head lamps.
How do you call this?: Ichi cyitwa gute?
I want: Dashaaka
I like: Ngunda
Sweet Potato: Ibijumbo
Other words that we already knew:
White person: Muzungu
Good morning: Mwaramutse
Good afternoon: Mwiriwe
How are you?: Amakuru?
I’m good: Ni meza.
I didn’t get to write down all of the words that we were taught, but hopefully I’ll get to learn more as the weeks go on. We finished at around ten, and the six of us from Dartmouth talked for a few hours, updating each other on our progress for the day and talking through some of the more controversial design decisions. Our days are long but rewarding.
Alison, our last traveller, gets here at the end of the week. We’re excited to see you!