December 16, 2011

(Begrudgingly) A Christmas Miracle?

So we didn't make our flight. Despite our extreme tiredness, we woke up early, absolutely scrambling to complete 5 different errands to change our flights.

Weirdly enough, we all actually benefit ted from spending an extra unplanned day in Kinshasa. for my part, I had forgotten my US cell phone in my hotel room the night before and the cleaning staff was able to return it to me!  Additionally, I was able to talk to a Congolese college who had partnered with me in the field (I had rudely left without saying goodbye).

A Christmas Miracle?

December 15, 2011

We Missed our Flight

We escaped a horrible 5 and a half hour traffic jam and just got to the airport. Unsuprisingly, all 5 of us missed our respective flights...

We passed wide stretches of water that look like 3 back-to-back olympic pools in a row, with city buses stuck in the mud. Since it's the rainy season, apparently a small river had overflowed, and in combination with the wet sand and the mud, and completely un-road worthy vehicles, it kept traffic at a standstill.

It's tragic and incredibly frustrating, fortunately we're all a bit loney at this point and that makes it entertaining...

This is like a Road Trip

But with no water and no place to pee.

4 hours and 45 minutes and still in traffic.

Uh oh

Our driver just pulled out his radio to announce to his colleague "c'est bloqué mon cher, c'est vraiment bloqué" (it's all blocked my friend, it's really blocked).

We've now been in traffic for 4 hours... And we can see the airport from here.

Worser and Worser Traffic

Oh my holy god. We've been in traffic for 3 hours now.

We've considered playing the license plate game but since we are not moving and many cars don't have license plates, it's proven to be utterly unchallenging. Also thinking about playing "truth or dare" but again, since we're not keen on getting out of the car under any circumstances, it's devolved into "truth or truth" and the game was quickly abandoned.

Traffic is so bad that Kinois (local residents from Kinshasa) have left cars, taxis and buses in droves and walking home.

I think it started raining in the car.

Traffic in Kinshasa

An email to a friend:

I'm stuck in this mad traffic going to the airport back to DC, bumper-to-bumper behind a truck holding about 20 yellow jerry cans full of sloshing fuel, pedestrians running around the cars, trucks threatening to titter to the ground and spill the mob of people contained inside, beeps and horns and sideway cars trying to make a left turn. And it just started raining.

Been in the car for 1 hour 44 minutes. We are spending our time analyzing the (lack of) traffic pattern and uselessly commenting on different strategies we would use to move the cars out of our way .

You know how Jean Paul Sartre said "l'enfer c'est les autres (hell is other people)" ? Ya well.

Just kidding, I'm glad to be stuck in this car these colleagues. They're pretty entertaining (and we're all thanking our lucky stars we didn't drink alcohol beforehand 'cause trust me, you don't want to be looking for a bathroom right now).

How many days until I see you?

December 08, 2011

My Main Concern in Congo: Porch Pirating

And of course, I do take the time to do a little online shopping.  Here's the latest email to my roommate:
Hey there,

So I'm in the Command Center and people are talking about this phenomenon of Porch Pirating - essentially people stealing other people's Amazon packages from their porch.  Sooo, I've ordered tons of presents for XXX and his family, plus clothes and shoes for myself (I'm really bored here since we're essential on lockdown).

Could you kindly keep an eye out for them and bring them in the house when they arrive on our porch?  Thanks!