Dancing Pots

Written by  Amy Dempsey February 3, 2011

My Canadian accent made a street full of Rwandans think I was crazy. It's the fleeting travel encounters that are unforgettable.


“I’m looking for Dancing Pots.”

The woman’s face scrunched into confused wrinkles. She either had no idea what I was saying or no idea what I was looking for.

“It’s a pottery store.” I said. “A place that sells pottery? Dancing pots.”

She shook her head.

“You don’t know it? Okay, thank you. Uh, murakoze.”

I continued down the narrow road in Kigali’s Nyarugengenge district. I was on a mission to find – you guessed it – Dancing Pots. It’s a shop that sells traditional pottery made by the Batwa, Rwanda’s minority ethnic group.

My directions said the shop was near Le Cercle Sportif. But I was standing right in front of the sport complex and saw no sign of it.

I asked a man sweeping the sidewalk, a woman fanning herself on a street corner, and a man balancing a small washing machine on his head. I asked everyone I saw. Some people raised their eyebrows, some smirked, others looked at me like I was crazy.

I tried different enunciations. I tried a poorly constructed French sentence. I tried gestures – hands in the air to demonstrate “dancing” and one hand removing the imaginary cover of an imaginary pot to demonstrate “pots.” It was silly but I was getting desperate.

Finally I found two young teenage boys who spoke English. Sweet relief.

“Dancing Pots?” I asked hopefully.

They laughed.

“It’s a pottery store,” I explained for what felt like the hundredth time.

The boys spoke to each other in Kinyarwanda and repeated what I said over and over. They looked around, giggled, looked at me, giggled, and shrugged.

“Dancing pots?” I repeated. I felt like a parrot. A dumb parrot.

The boys looked at each other and laughed harder. Finally one of them asked, “Party?”

“No, no,” I said. “POT-TER-Y. Like… plates and bowls and…mugs?”

“Pottery! Yes, okay!” said the second boy. “We thought you said party.”

Dancing party. Oh.

It was 2 o’clock on a Monday afternoon and I made a street full of Rwandans think I was looking for a dance party.

The boys led me down the road to Dancing Pots, which turned out to be inside of a residential home. As we walked I passed all the people I had asked for directions.

They grinned at me and I smiled sheepishly.

Add this article to your reading list
Published in Writing Shortlist
Tagged under

About

Verge believes in travel for change. International experience creates global citizens, who can change our planet for the better. This belief is at the core of everything we do.

For more than a decade, Verge has produced quality resources and events to help people experience the world in a meaningful way, through opportunities to study, work and volunteer abroad.

Contact Us

info@vergemagazine.org
(+1) 705 742 6869

Subscriber care
Advertise
Write for us
Subscribe
Privacy policy