retrospective no. 1: also, where i am now.

I promise eventually to update this blog with a “Best Of” set of posts from my travels over the last year. It’s been about three weeks since I created this blog, and only today am I sitting down for the first time to write a post. The (mostly self-imposed) pressure for that first entry to be so witty and catchy pretty much kept me at the widgets and layout phase of blogging. Well, here I am now and I’m sorry if the wit is lacking. I’ll blame it on jetlag.

Kinshasa et le Congo, view from above

Kinshasa is hot. Hot and humid and oppressively congested. I’m sitting in the office here doing some work (‘some’ being the operative word) and wondering if it’s even possible to go “en ville” without consecrating the next three hours to the trip. It took more time to get to lunch yesterday than it did to get a table, order and eat. Which is surprising, given the time it normally takes for even the simplest of meals to be served.

Michel’s wife Mapuseke (a beautiful Lesothan woman whose accent is so charming it makes me feel quite big and bumbling) leaves two hours early to get their children to school. No one seemed surprised when we rolled up an hour late to our meeting yesterday with the tax office yesterday, which was supposedly at 14h. It just adds to the slow pace of life. But also makes me wonder how much work is just completely lost to inefficacy.

I read something once that a Peace Corps volunteer had posted about his experience trying to get things done in Niger during the rainy season. People just can’t (or don’t want to) work in this kind of heat. Admittedly, when the electricity goes out, the generator doesn’t power the AC. Fifteen degrees hotter in the room I am working in, I’m sweating in a very unladylike fashion, and all of a sudden my work ethic is out the ineffectively open window. Alas.

The office where I am working these next two weeks – for the NGO “Initiative pour un Leadership Cohésif et la Cohésion de l’Etat – or, Initiative for a Cohesive Leadership and State Cohesion – or, ILC for short, is situated in a ‘commune’ of Kinsasa that I’m not at all familiar with. Which says next to nothing, considering my last stint in Kin consisted only of a six-hour period: a trip from the airport to the office in the middle of the night during one of the the most intense storms I’ve ever experienced, and then a trip back to the airport (the United Nations section, this time) to hop a flight to the East. But I do know that it hardly matters where you are, because it’s going to take at least an hour to get anywhere.

I’m in Kin until November 13. I promise to post pictures and write more. For now, I just kind wish I were back in Goma.


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