As you may have guessed, life in Congo is quite different.
Prior to coming to post, I admit, I thought I knew what to expect. I soon realized that nothing was preparation enough. One hour in Kinshasa will certainly make you realize giving up True Blood and HGTV is not a hardship. Our day-to-day is now newly defined with the threat of pandemic disease, gross bugs that may lay their worm eggs under your skin, acid flies (don’t swat them!), the horrifying poverty and living conditions, small children in rags begging for money from you, women changing their babies on the side of the road, the smells of burning trash and God knows what else, the possible threat of evacuation, very expensive groceries ($15 USD for cereal! $12 USD for a small container of soy milk!), bleaching vegetables, Malaria risk, trying and worrying about keeping Sophie away from stagnant parasitic pee puddles, a country that has an 80% unemployment rate and rampant corruption, and of course, my biggest fear and debilitating phobia: BUGS.
Ok who wants to visit first?
True, things are going to be a bit harder and more challenging than I originally thought. Congo is hardly a place you plan to visit, let alone live in for the next two years. But after a couple of weeks now, I decided I can either let the "hardship" get to me or do what I initially planned before we came and try to help in any way possible, focus on the good, and make the most of the experience. At least we are here together. And it will certainly be an adventure.
Also, it is only fair to mention, there are many good things. The diplomatic community has been very nice, helpful and welcoming. There is a strong sense of community and we have met some really great people. We have moved into our permanent residence and right near our place, there is a running route along the Congo River. Henry is really enjoying work and is looking forward to being here in that regard. This weekend we may make a day trip out to the Bonobo Monkey Reserve and we are planning on joining the tennis/swim club. One of these days, we will also make a trip out to Zongo Falls, which we have heard is amazing.
I’ll be honest, it has and will be a very difficult adjustment and the first weeks have not been without some major Jenn meltdowns and thoughts of fleeing back to the good ’ole U.S. of A. Luckily, even though I seriously consider shipping myself to Massachusetts from the DPO (diplomatic post office) on a daily basis, Henry has adjusted much better and is practically driving like a local already.
As far as everyone who wanted to visit? Of course, you are all still very welcome if the above has not fully scared you away! Though at present time, we may suggest saving the expensive Kinshasa fare and meeting up in elsewhere in Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania) or Europe. Ha, honestly, we may need the break.