Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Congo Update

-Found dead bat on porch. Looks gross. Is gross. Did you know that bat poop is called guano? Apparently, this is common knowledge.

-Called new internet company to inquire about changing our service. They sent 5 people over. 4 and a half of them completely useless. Around $750 to set up, $220 a month...still undecided if it's worth switching companies.

-The Congolese soldiers on the river walk have acquired a monkey. It was on a leash and tied to a tree. I really hope it's not food. Sophie and I may stage a rescue tonight.

-Word on the street is there might actually be fireworks for New Years Eve here. Not sure if explosive devices and Congo go well together. Hopefully the fireworks don't consist of the soldiers shooting their AK-47s in the air.

-This week I experienced my first foray into the Congo nightclub scene. The forecast? Slightly ordinary with a few scattered Congolese hookers. Interesting experience but will most likely not become a part of our regularly scheduled programming.

-Also, and weirdly random, it seems that Sisqo had a concert last week in the parking lot of the nearby Grand Hotel. Yes, the Thong Song has finally made it to Congo.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Ho-Ho-Hot Holiday

Christmas in the Congo. Not exactly white with snow. Nor a winter wonderland. Of all the holidays, this one was definitely the hardest to be away for. We really missed seeing family and doing all the traditional holiday stuff. Luckily, we have found some really good friends here and spent the day with them (and a big pot of melty fondue).

All month long has felt a little pretend. Like allegedly it's December, but I am lacking the solid evidence that it's not still August. I normally love Christmas season. But this year, try though I might, I couldn't convince myself it was actually here.

One place to buy an xmas tree here...Sold in Congo, made in China.

Our sad little gingerbread house. We tried to convince ourselves it was Christmas with this masterpiece.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Charming Kinshasa: Part Un

The Internet
Seems to not work more than it actually works. Oh it's raining? No internet. The wind blows. No internet. It's perfectly sunny outside? No internet.

I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, my poor-to-mediocre internet connection isn't a code red situation but, nonetheless, it is frustrating at times. Then again, I guess it's hard to have high expectations when the help line goes to some dude's personal cell phone (we have interrupted him at the doctor's office, at the grocery store, and I think, once, we woke him up from a nap).

Photography can be a challenge here. Most Congolese do not like being photographed and it is actually illegal to photograph government property or officials. The good news is, since laws are somewhat optional, I take photographs anyways. Somehow I don't think any of the Congolese police are checking this blog or facebook.

I have started to paint portraits of people here and we will try to go out on the weekends to find willing subjects to photograph. Sometimes I bribe people to pose for me (usually about 1000 FC, a little over a dollar), sometimes people get mad and shake their fingers at me, and sometimes I am stealthy, sneak in like a ninja, and take the pictures before they realize it. It all depends on how spicy I feel that day.

The Streets
The roads here are in pretty deplorable shape. After being here for several months, you get to know where the really bad potholes are. As you drive along, you will constantly see cars swerve onto your side of the road. This used to cause me a little concern. Now I am unfazed.

Traffic is also horrible. The traffic jams here put the beltway to shame. It could be the lack of street lights, road lines, and nonsense like that. It could also be the police blocking the roads at various points, trying to extort money from people. Or the cars who ignore the "rules" completely and drive on the pedestrian walk areas (sidewalk is too strong a word for Kinshasa) or on the opposite side of the road. But I am just guessing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Come for the malaria, stay for the civil war...

Here is the local (and perhaps only) branch of the National Office of Tourism. Though the pictures probably speak for themselves, I think it's safe to say that tourism is not exactly a booming industry in Kinshasa at present time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New work

Recent commission...

Boy fishing on the Congo River...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Running in the Congo

Here is the river walk near our residence. As far as running routes go in Congo, this is pretty much it. Every day starts here. It is my Groundhog Day.

Though it can be quite pretty (sunsets and so on), it also has the potential to be kind of anti-scenic as well. Like when the Republican Guard soldiers need to pee and decide to utilize the nearest patch of grass. Or when the people at the end of the road decide to burn their trash. Yep, just lovely.