Most weekends, today, I make a trip to the market in Kimironko. Kimironko is one of the city’s districts, approximately a 45 minute walk from my house. After an entertaining walk through Kigali’s bustling streets- moto taxis flagging me down, yellow-jacket MTN phone agents asking me if I need airtime every corner I turn or bright yellow tent I pass, children energetically shouting “muzungu” or good morning at any time of day (any bit of English is an opportunity to make a new friend in Kigali)- I arrive at the city bus depot.
And, I play Pacman.
Hair tied back.
Cash tucked in my secrete exercise pants pocket.
As if one of those yellow munching, floating Pacman heads, I squeeze and dodge my way past buses, matatus, cars, carts full of the most tempting fresh fruit, families decked out in the most colorful Kitenge, and I bee line straight to the market entrance, an opening in what would appear to be an abandoned, open-air warehouse.
I look straight ahead, on a mission, with my eye on the prize: 5,000 franc worth of fresh fruits and vegetables for the week.
Each vendor I meet is like the moment in Pacman when the yellow munching, floating head bites down on a piece of fruit- the sound of victory “cha ching” going off in the background.
I bargain, smile, try to speak the smallest bit of kinyrwandan, and confidently keep on moving if the price is just way out of range. When time’s up, I leave feeling satisfied, a bit overwhelmed, but definitely entertained and happy about my week’s early wins: carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, onions, peppers, cauliflower, bananas, mango, and avocado for my work week.
This new weekly ritual is still a bit unfamiliar- a new and exciting adventure to look forward to on my Sundays. However, despite the foreignness of it, I feel assured and confident as I reflect on the happy moments as a kid with my sisters proving who could fill the role of yellow, muching,floating Pacman best. It’s the smallest of wins in a new context, culture, city, weekly ritual, daily activity that strengthens my outlook on the days ahead in my new home.