February 15th, 2006
After an incredibly deep sleep, I am woken up by insistent knocking. The hotel staff brings me hot water, tea, butter (the one that doesn’t need to be frozen), powdered milk and sugar. I thank him and ask if my two other colleagues are sleeping. He wobbles his head and looks at me with sorry eyes. I shake sleep from my voice and try again by enunciating clearly. That doesn’t seem to help and I just assume that he understands just Lingala. Later that day, my colleague laughs at this recollection and says that the staff understands French, but I just don’t speak it like a Congolese does.
It turns out that we cannot board the Russian plane that day because there is a fuel shortage in town. I leave $2,000 upfront for them to find fuel and secretly pray that the company is an honest one. I sure would hate to loose that much of the organization’s money.
That afternoon, we walk in the busy streets again under the punishing sun, leaving me to explain why I am hugging the shady spots of the streets (I am almost like an albino after all). The kids pick up bottle caps to play bottle-cap football.
The hotel has three different posters of its owner, the UNDP leader, whose large round face stares menacingly at guest from a faded brown and white picture.
The Antanov Airplane we take to go to Dekese