Dem. Rep. of the Congo

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Return To Africa

It's been almost a year since I've last been to Africa, so high time to get back before I get detox symptoms. And I desperately need some sun and heat, this grey winter weather and the cold and the rain is really getting on my nerves.

Although we did enjoy the first few pre-spring days this week. Last week we took the boys to the Zoo (just for a visit, we took them back home) and although the sun was out, it was still a winter sun. But it was very nice, although I almost managed to leave my backpack behind, WITH the video camera, when Wolf slipped and hurt his mouth.

Today we had a really nice sunny day, at times it got really warm. Not Africa warm of course, but spring is definitely coming. We made a nice walk through Antwerp, just strolling without the need to run from one store to the other. People enjoyed the first warm weather in a typical Belgian way: they 'did a terrace' and had a drink outside in the sun. Wolf gobbled down a giant ice-cream; it took me half an hour to get most of the chocolate from his face and then he still looked like he'd put his face into a bucket of mud. We went to look at the ships sailing on the river Scheldt, but we only saw one. And then it was time to head back home.

Tomorrow Mrs.B and the kids will bring me to the airport, Wolf is looking forward to see all the aircraft. Mrs.B on the other hand is looking forward to a breakfast with American pancakes at the restaurant at the very beginning of the check-in lines. And I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to my little guys, because I know I will miss them terribly in the next two weeks.

Storm Over Congo

Storm clouds brewing over a village in IturiStorm clouds brewing over a village in Ituri


First I take my underwear, generally for one week but I won't have time to do the laundry and I'll only be gone for nine days, so I take a bit more. Summer PJs, because it'll be warm, but also a sweater because at night it cools down quickly outside in eastern Congo. Then a couple of T-shirts and two polo shirts with the logo of my organisation. Three trousers with legs that I can zip off to turn them into shorts. I really should be some new ones, they're beginning to show their age.

Sandals, mustn't forget those! And a cap, to protect my head from the scorching sun; very important when one's hair is in retreat. Then it's time for the bathroom items. My toilet bag, a small towel and two washing cloths - mustn't forget to take a big towel from the closet in Wolf's room when he's sound asleep. I always forget that big towel - have to stuff it into my suitcase at the last moment.

Then it's time to fetch the medicine bag and check its contents. Sun tan lotion - although I never use it. Something against the runnings, something against headaches and fever, an antibiotic for when all else fails and doctors are far out of reach, something against terrorists and plane crashes and most importantly: a spray against mosquitoes.

Goes into the same bag: the electronics department: charger for my cell phone, charger for my iPod, webcam, headphones.

Down to the basement to delve into the camping box. Water flask, torch, compass, alarm whistle, sleeping bag, inflatable pillow and - again most importantly - mosquito net. Oh, that reminds me: mustn't forget the ball of string. You wouldn't believe the nets I weaved to hang that mosquito net from a mirror in one corner to the door and then a cross-wire to the nail in the wall and then trough the bathroom door to...

Did I pack some hankies? Oooh, this reminds me: the roll of toilet paper! Don't go to Africa without one. It's your one vital link to civilisation.

Finally something to read: three sturdy novels. Two in the big suitcase and one in the small backpack, to read on the plane. I'll stuff my photobag in my backpack too, together with my iPod. I bought new headphones today to replace the very basic fumbling things that are standard isue.

Batteries! I must recharge the batteries! Batteries for my camera! Batteries for my external flash! Batteries for my torch!


Tomorrow my plane takes off around 11:40 to Uganda, with a stop at Kigali, Rwanda's capital. The day after I'll fly to the border town of Arua with a local carrier, and then my colleagues will pick me up and drive me to Mahagi, where I'll stay for three days. At the end of the week, I'll fly to Kinshasa for two days of meetings. And next Tuesday I'll fly back to Europe, via Paris.

Good thing my suitcase has wheels.

Touch And Go

I've barely arrived from Congo and I'm leaving again... to Congo. This time to the southwestern part instead of the northeast. I'll be back in ten days, so you'll have to make do with the other blogs that you may find in the dark pathways of the internet. Not that I can imagine that any of them are as interesting as my weblog, of course.

Farmers' meeting near MbandakaFarmers' meeting near Mbandaka

Dance de l'Equateur

I had a busy schedule for my last trip to Congo, so for once I didn't take my camera. After all, I'd only be seeing the inside of meeting rooms and conference halls. Boy, did I regret that decision! Although I must admit my hand luggage was only half as heavy as it normally was.

Anyway, here are some pictures from my last trip. On the evening before our return to Kinshasa, we were invited to a party in honour of three young men that had just become priests. All in all, the party was pretty lame. Everybody was sitting around tables, talking and drinking, but nothing much happened.

And then this crazy dance group entered:

Shake that boooooh-taaay!Shake that boooooh-taaay!

For your information: one of these women is a nun. Guess which one.For your information: one of these women is a nun. Guess which one.

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