When is a Bag of Nuts a Window?

Our journey from Musanze to Kigali was an adventure.  Ron and Carolyn Stansell, Fred, the FTC librarian, John Muhanji, Debi Miller and Eloise Hockett joined me as passengers in Dave Thomas’ sturdy Land Cruiser. John and Ron were sitting in the way back. Dave had loaded all the luggage on the top rack and then neatly bundled them in tarps.  It was raining as we loaded and we anticipated rain most of the trip.  Dave was pretty wet by the time he finished the loading.  After a lengthy negotiation with the office manager of the guest house regarding fees and statements, we were ready to go! Marie Claire, the young Rwandan women who exchanged email addresses with me wished me a “safe journey”.

I got into the passenger seat next to Dave at the insistence of my colleagues.  I had to reach through the open window because the outside door handle was broken. When I sat down and prepared to roll up the window, I discovered that it was stuck about two-thirds of the way up.  Dave got out of the car to get next to me on the outside to work with the window.  “Open the door so I can try”, he said.  Well, you can guess what happened then.  Right, the door was stuck as well.  We fiddled with the window and door for about five minutes until I realized that a partially closed window and a stuck shut door were better options than an open window or a door I would have to hold closed for the entire three hour trip.

Dave told me that we would just find something to block off the opening.  He asked anyone if they had a plastic bag.  Someone said, “In my suitcase”, but Dave was not going to unpack that skillfully bundled load on the top of the car.  I remembered I had a gallon-size zip lock bag in my briefcase with some cashews in it.  This bag had the leftovers from my plane ride to Rwanda. I dumped out the few remaining nuts and gave the bag to David. He rummaged around under his seat and found another zip lock bag there and several pieces of used duct tape somewhere in the back of the car.  He and several of the men did a temporary patch.  As we pulled away, the tape failed and the bags came loose.  Fortunately I caught them. Plastic bags are illegal in Rwanda and we may not have found others.  After a trip to a local store, Dave returned with some strapping tape.  He and John and Fred made a better seal, wiping the wet car and window with a rag which was used to clean the inside of the windshield. While the window-building was going on, Ron and Carolyn told us about the Thomas fixit gene and how David’s father, Hal, and other male members of his family were geniuses at solving all kinds of mechanical problems.

As we drove down the road, the bag-window fluttered and crackled.  We wondered if it would hold.  A couple of kilometers down the road, Dave stopped for fuel and again, he did additional work at securing the bag-window.  I am happy to report that the window held for the remainder of the trip, three hours across the Rwandan countryside through varying degrees of African rainfall.2014-02-02 09.54.53

We did make one stop on our way back to Kigali.  The photo is of a roadside restaurant and bus stop. At this place was a famous food stand.  We had very good goat-on-a-stick here, which we enjoyed in the car as we traveled “home”.

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