Monday, April 24, 2006

Back in Butare

I'm back in my old house in Butare before heading off to Bukavu in the morning. I've been gone three weeks. I had a wonderful Easter weekend in Utrecht and Amsterdam with friends Sophie (from Belgium) and Shirini (England) who drove up and flew over to join me. We all met at Schipol airport and then drove to Utrecht.

Nicky, Sophie, and Shirini at Schipol

From there I went over to England for a few days, first to Devon, to a rather remote cottage somewhere between South Molton and Barnstaple. The sun shone the afternoon we arrived, and after that it was nothing but cold rain for the next three days. Thank goodness the house had central heating!

Remote cottage in Devon

Friday was a successful shopping day at Selfridges and John Lewis in central London thanks to my determined cousin Julia, and Saturday it was suddenly a warm sunny spring day with blossoms in abundance, and I enjoyed wandering around the shops in Muswell Hill basking in anonymity before catching the evening flight to Nairobi. On to Kigali this morning, and down to Butare this afternoon. My old rooms are very bare, and without the cats I feel very sad.

Internet access in Bukavu will be far less frequent, and apparently the gmail address is difficult to access - much better to use Yahoo. It looks like I won't be able to post photos very often - we shall see! I shall have to see about changing the name of the blog now, too.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bicycles (and a very small red car) in Amsterdam

Bicycles in Utrecht

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Yesterday I took the train to the eastern side of the Netherlands, to Enschede, near the border with Germany, to visit my friends Rini and Walter - my former neighbours in Butare. Rini cooked some great Indonesian food, and we spent the afternoon catching up on stories about Rwanda. Their house is close to the centre of the town, and as we walked from the station I took photos of a couple of churches and other interesting items.

This is me with Hein (a Dutch student who was doing research in Rwanda last year), Rini and Walter.

I was fascinated by this old church tower which is obviously much older than the church it's attached to.

This was another fascinating church - I've never seen one that looked like this before - especially those amazing enormous round windows. Hope I'll be able to return one day and look inside.

The town theatre had lots of interesting characters clambering around the building!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Those photos uploaded really fast, so I'll post a few more while I have the chance!!

The day I left my colleagues held a goodbye party for me at the office, and we took some photos. Here I am with some of the guys - I want to say how much I appreciated all my male colleagues: everyone of them was always friendly and generally went out of their way to help me. It was a real pleasure to work with so many great guys!

Sorry - have to add some more cat photos - I miss them so much!!!
Internet cafe with a difference

I'm sitting in this interesting cafe near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. It's part of an old theatre, and the cafe is in what used to be the foyer. There's a wide wooden staircase and an ornate old-fashioned chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Everything is slightly shabby. The cafe has wireless internet access, so some people, like me, are sitting at tables with laptops surfing the net, although most are not. I think people come more for coffee or a drink (they also serve alcohol) than for the free internet access. I'm going to see how fast my photos upload, as there's quite a few from Rwanda that I still wanted to post. Here's a couple from a 6 am sunrise I caught the day before I left. I miss the view over the valley from my back deck...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


The weather here is a bit too cold for my liking, but the food is great! This is a wonderfully walk-able city, and the hotel is an interesting and pleasant 30 minute walk from the office. Sidewalks, roads, and bike paths tend to blend into each other and I'm constantly jumping out of the way of impatient cyclists. The old buildings lining the canals are full of character, each one a little different from the next, some leaning or crooked, some narrow, some wide and impressive.

The office is in one of these beautiful old canal-side buildings, open-plan inside, lots of light, very friendly. Dogs come with their owners to the office, cappucino and macchiato available (and very good) any time at the press of a button, and tubs of Ben and Jerry's "Peace of Cake" ice-cream also on offer! Large photographs of the children we work with, and campaign posters everywhere. Staff are remarkably helpful and friendly. A spare desk with internet access quickly provided for use when not in an orientation session. I'm busy most of the time - information sessions about policies and procedures, methodology training, health tests, and a three-day residential security training program coming up Thursday through Saturday which will include scenarios on dealing with weapons, aggression, and hostage-taking. Not that I expect any of that to happen, but being prepared is what it's all about!!