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.

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