I woke up at 10:00 this morning. It’s 11:30 now. I just finished a bowl of corn flakes. While it may impress or surprise the every-day American that we can get Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in Rwanda, it probably doesn’t take the every-day American an hour and a half to eat a bowl of it.

We’re staying with some friends (the Becks), and they’re out of town. They made available all their food to us, so I woke up today very excited about the possibility of eating corn flakes, with sugar on top and cold milk. It’s a simple request, but these kinds of things really are exciting when you’ve only been an expatriate for two weeks. Here is the process that was required in order to eat this modest breakfast:

Open the box of corn flakes and make sure they aren’t stale/roach-ridden – ok so far

Check the refrigerator for milk – none to be found

Check the pantry for powdered milk – success!

Check the water filter – empty

Find a pan for water – clean, luckily

Fill the large, handle-less pan three times and pour the water into the filter after each filling (very difficult not to spill)

Realize that the water filter (basically a metal ten-gallon tea brewer/dispenser that you would find in a restaurant) filters at the pace of a leaky bathroom faucet.

Realize further that it’s now around 10:30 and I’m still hungry

Eat a handful of dry corn flakes

Eat a “Knuspy” brand European lemon zest/buttermilk granola bar

Realize that at least hot tea will suffice until the water filters

Boil a different pan of water for tea

Watch Larry King (the one channel the Becks get is CNN World) with Amy while the water boils

Get sucked into the suspender-driven Sarah Palin commentary, forget about boiling water, and rush into the kitchen

Discover that water is completely boiled and now extremely hot

Wait for water to cool

Brew tea and drink, mesmerized by James Carville’s accent (“I’m just, like, vexed by this VP pick. It’s just befuddlin’.”)

Check filter – it’s about 11:10 now – and there is enough water filtered for milk!

Dispense water, ever so slowly, into a cup

Measure three tablespoons of powdered milk into the cup, and stir until dissolved into the water

Realize that lukewarm powdered milk sounds awful

Put milk cup in freezer for ten minutes to chill milk

Remove, pour corn flakes into bowl, pour milk on top of corn flakes

Smell the cereal, realizing that it smells like cheap coffee creamer

Eat it anyway, very quickly, so as not to taste it too much

Realize that it wasn’t actually that bad

Decide to write it about it on the internet.

Finish writing at 12:10 PM.


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