Kinshasa

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Packing

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.

We'll Meet Again

I'm off to Congo again, tomorrow morning I'll be on a plane that will take me to Luanda (Angola) first in what can only be described as a long and boring detour to get to Kinshasa.

See you all in two weeks time. In the mean time, try to behave.

Who Needs Adventure Anyway?

Transport problems so far:

  • The rear wheel on the left side of our jeep fell of while we were riding (very slowly). The whole thing started to jiggle like a belly dancer on steroids. Not surprisingly, because there was only one bolt holding the wheel. We had to return on foot, but luckily this happened right when we entered the city. We'd just returned from a trip 20 miles out in the rain forest.
  • The plane from Mbandaka to Kinshasa was five (5) hours late.
  • We almost missed the plane to Kananga because the lady at the check in made an error while entering us in the computer. We then had to wait for the ICT specialist of the airport to rectify that error. We had to make a mad dash over the tarmac. The plane's ladder had already retracted and the engines were running. Luckily, the lowered the ladder and we could enter.
  • It's the end of the rainy season, so there's more turbulence than calm air around.
  • If you thought European/American airline food was bad, try the sandwiches here. One of my colleagues had the runnings after eating two of those sandwiches.
  • I almost missed my plane back to Europe because of a giant traffic jam right during the evening rush (although Kinshasa seems to have an all-day-long rush these days). A couple of cars collided near Patrice Lumumba's memorial, and of course nobody moved one before they'd made a detailed study of what happened. We arrived at the airport less than 30 minutes before take-off. I only made it because basically I rushed through customs and security checks without showing papers or opening my bags. Try that in a European airport!

So all things considered, quite a normal and uneventful trip really.

Congo river bed

Congo river bed
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