Today my research project hit its first major kibazo (Kinyarwanda for problem). When I returned to the lab after lunch, the centrifuge, which I have up until now been praising for its quiet efficiency in spinning our samples, would not turn on. We did not realize it was broken, of course, until I had already loaded a sample and a balancing tube in and locked the lid. We tried to fix it in the same way that most people fix their technology- unplugging it, replugging it, switching outlets, switching power cords, and maybe even a little bit of shall we say, “physical encouragement,” on the locked lid, but all of this was to no avail. Feeling somewhat defeated, I packed my things and tried to call Emanuel to bring me home, but his cell phone was off. I decided against trying to explain my destination to a new mototaxi driver (there are no street signs/addresses here, so you must either direct the driver or hope that he knows what landmark you are referring to), and instead I walked home. It was a very pleasant walk- just under 30 minutes, and I found it exhilarating to be walking alone as an outsider. I received a fair number of stares and quite a few giggles from passersby, as well as a very enthusiastic greeting of “Good morning! Good morning!” from a group of small children (this, at roughly 4PM). Besides taking the long way around one corn field, I was able to make it back in a relatively direct path just based on my passive observations from the back of the mototaxi.
Tomorrow I will go with Anna to Kigali in order to figure out what to do about the centrifuge. She says that she knows of a shop that has a manual one, but I am not sure that it will be sufficient for my needs, because every sedimentation is spun at 1100RPMs for 5 full minutes, and I’m not sure my arms are capable of powering that. Considering how smoothly everything else has gone on my trip, it was bound to be that I would run into a problem somewhere along the line, so hopefully this will be the only major hiccup that arises.