Chilling like the mzungu that I am at the snazzy coffeeshop in town: Cafe Bourbon.
I pretend to read while I watch the Kigali elite intermingle with the white foreigners. Overpriced food and classy coffee cups litter the tables. I’m a consumer of this hypocrisy. As all PCV/RPCV’s will atest, we flock to these havens of our own culture where we throw around American standards of bills for the items that locals just right outside of town could not dream to afford. Always wifi’d up and with service worth tipping, these cafes are a love-hate relationship for me. While I hate how they separate the privileged (local and foreign) from the majority, I love the ability to catch up on emails, facebook stalk my friends, covertly people watch and just be pretentious for a smidge.
Rules for Navigating Mzungu Cafes:
- Never order local food here. It will be overpriced and hardly authentic. Better to buy chapati and beans off a mama on the street and eat it while squatting on a plastic chair. Save this arena for the Westernized renditions.
- Coffee it up! This is probably be the best cup you’ll have here if you are a caffeine connoisseur (except for employees of actual coffee companies visiting plantations abroad). The best coffee beans are typically exported so most of what you’ll find in stores won’t be as freshly roasted and handpicked as these cups o’ joe.
- Avoid the tea. Unless it’s loose leaf, you’re just paying way too much for regular local tea bag.
- People watch. Observe the segregation, habits, mannerisms and languages around you. And then play my favourite game – guess where that foreigner is from! Good clues: his accent and dress.
- Strike up convos. Don’t resort to your Westernized ways of keeping your own privacy. Chances are most people here speak English (not just the staff) so try figuring out what they are about and where they work.
And, yes, that is me blogging. Gotta soak up the Digital Nomad lifestyle while I can until the med school grind catches up to me again!