Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Golfing in the Congo

Here's another little glimpse of Congo as retold to me through Henry....

The other day, Henry was golfing at the (one and only) course in Kinshasa. As their group approached one of the ponds, one of the caddies saw a fish surface on the water. Overcome with excitement, the caddy sprung into action, took a putter from one of the golf bags and started whacking the water, trying to beat the fish to death with the club, in hopes of eating it. Just a guess, but this is probably not something that happens at Pebble Beach.

When I heard this story, my first thought was, "ha, oh so Congo"...but then my next thoughts were "Sad!!! Do you guys not pay your caddies well? Why did this caddy go into a manic fish mode at the first sight of a fin? Did he catch the fish? Can we buy him some fish?!". Henry told me that, yes, the caddies are paid but that he always gives his caddy extra when he sees him. In their group, the caddies also win drinks every time their person does something with par or birdie or some other term I have since forgotten. So, I feel a little better about it but not much. The golf club is one of the nicest places in Congo and I can imagine it would provide decent employment, especially considering the miserable predicament of the rest of the country, but even so...it is still sad. Even more depressing is the fact that the caddies are probably better off than a majority of the Congolese population. Someone once told me they heard the goal of Congo is to "get from misery to poverty". Living here, in this fourth world country, it is just so obvious every day how much we have to be grateful for as Americans.

So anyways, that's what happened one day on the golf course. FYI, the caddy did not catch the fish and it lived on. Until the next golf group came along anyways.

Monday, May 23, 2011

More Sightseeing...

A place to buy fabric and a place to buy Coke...as in cola.

No one knows just how deep these potholes are until you drive through them as they are usually covered in muddy garbage water. So convenient.

This is how I imagine my demise happening in Congo... A large, speeding, out of control truck filled with people and/or livestock. Every time one of these trucks hits one of the many massive potholes, I always expect to see the roof people fly off. But, impressively, I have never seen it happen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Shower

On Sunday, my amazing friend Lauren threw me the most incredible baby shower. Everything was so perfect and adorable and just made me realize all the more how much I am going to miss everyone here.

Lauren really went above and beyond - especially considering we live in Kinshasa where it is impossible to get anything. Everyone decorated a little onesie and now baby will have a fun wardrobe that says cute things like "Sophie's Little Brother" and "Made in Kinshasa" along with all the other great clothes and gifts.

As of now, I am set to leave Congo in about 3 weeks (Henry will be staying here until later on in the summer). It's hard to believe my time in Kinshasa is coming to an end soon and I wish I could take everyone here with me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

South Africa (again)

Back in Congo after another quick trip down to South Africa . This was our second trip to Pretoria in the last 2 months and, minus the Congo travel experience (will fill you in on that later), it was another great visit. More great food, accommodations, first worldy-ness and...maternity care.

Yep, maternity care. We are expecting a little baby boy around Labor Day and could not be happier. Who wouldn't want to be pregnant in Congo? Jokes aside, we are thrilled but as you might expect, prenatal care is not exactly thriving in Congo. There is a med unit at the embassy but we also travel to South Africa for some of the bigger appointments and screenings, thus our recent trip. The medical care in South Africa is excellent and the hospital we went to is outstanding. We had a great appointment and loved the doctor (with the fun Afrikaans accent). All in all, totally worth the travel and definitely on par with US standards. In some ways, I would even say I liked the South African care better (gasp!) than what I experienced in the States because of the long personal appointment and the doctor does the ultrasounds herself. But let's be honest, either one is perfectly fine - States or South Africa - just as long as it's not Congo!

Henry and I are very excited and happy and, though it does change our Congo to Nairobi timeline a bit, we will figure it all out...eventually. So anyways, that's the latest news! Thanks for all the well wishes. We are so grateful that things are going well and looking forward to spending some time back in the States.
Pretoria East Hospital...

Our doctor's office...

Baby boy!

A kicking little leg!

Sucking his thumb...

Waving hello.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sightseeing: Congo Countryside

Truck loaded with bags of charcoal. Add a few goats and a handful of people to the top of the pile and it will be ready to go.

Breakdown? Congo's version of a tow truck.

Suburban living.

A Congo "building".

Suburban downtown area...

Local pharmacy...

Small river. Those lumps you see in the middle and along the edges? Yep, those are piles of trash.