One nice feature about living in Banga is that we are pretty close to Bujumbura (only an hour and a half instead of 3 hrs from Buja to Kibuye) but still enjoy all the benefits of being “upcountry”. Namely, the 10-20 degree temperature difference! Our team is currently borrowing an 8 passenger Land Cruiser while we wait for our 15 passenger van to arrive from Toyota Gibraltar. So every weekend, different teammates get a chance to spend the weekend in Buja. What’s the appeal? Well...
The Food! While Bujumbura is no Nairobi (which is no fill in the blank American city), there is still good food to be had, especially when we are on a fixed diet for these 3 months in Banga. The guesthouse food is good, but my sweet tooth gets restless. We have been excited to find a brand new French cafe in Buja, called Cafe Gourmand. It is very reminiscent of our local French bakery, with awesome bread, pastries, smoothies, etc. We’ve also tried out an Indian restaurant, pizza place, and various other cafes. One of the little grocery-type stores in town sells ice cream, too, at 50 cents per double scoop. (we will save the post about grocery stores for another day, perhaps when we are shopping for more food, but I will say that our days of pushing big shopping carts around are mostly in the past)
Ice Cream at Mutoyi
2. Connecting with the Buja community. There is a close community of people here in Burundi and it has been fun to get to know some of them, including several we will work with. On Friday afternoon, Rachel and Carlan were asked to "consult" on an ultrasound problem at Hope Africa's Van Norman Clinic. While neither of us are boomed technicians, we have enough ultrasound experience that we could trouble shoot a bit. Afterwards, Dr. Joel Miller gave us a tour of the brand new facilities (Eric and Rachel, during their first trip here in 2010, watched the ceiling/second story floor being built, so it's fun to see the project completed!). We probably won't be working here much, but who knows?
Lab facilities at the VNC
3. Fun times...being able to do things we weren't necessarily expecting to do in Burundi. For example, we stayed with a great family who had three little kids...and a slip and slide from the US! Given the higher temps in Buja, Maggie and Ben sure did enjoy a chance to spend the afternoon in the water. Carlan and Alyssa played some frisbee with a big group of Ultimate players, and we all enjoyed a French-English church service on Sunday. I'm sure we will be able to explore many parts of Buja in the months to come.