Bad News ... 200%


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Africa » Congo Democratic Republic » South » Lubumbashi
February 3rd 2010
Published: February 3rd 2010
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OOOOOOOOOK

Trip to Lubumbashi yesterday ...

Where to start? The beginning ... obvious.

The night of February 1st 2010 ... just finished a delightful conversation with my younger brother Thom ... set my alarm for 5:00am ... it’s after 11 when I finally put my head on the pillow.

Wake up to the alarm ... what seems like seconds later ... snoooooze button saves lives ... or at least mornings. Finally drag myself out of my small bed ... with an outlet under it ... at about 5:30 ... make coffee ... spray on deodorant ... brush the teeth ... find a relatively clean shirt ... organize documents for travel ... and we’re off.

As we begin our walk towards the bus stop the rain also decides to begin ... we duck into our favourite shop for a few minutes ... back on route.

Bus stop ... chaos ... yelling ... honking ... revving engines ... more yelling.

We find the “best” bus for departure and sit for 30mins while we wait for it to fill ... and boy does it fill. The “bus” has 4 rows of benches and 3 seats at the very front ... each bench ... at first glance ... looks like it has been manufactured with the intention of seating 3 people ... not when they decided to introduce it to Africa ... no no ... you can definitely fit 4 people on each of those ... and probably another person up front ... and maybe another on the ground between the first bench and the front seats ... just a few modifications and it’s definitely possible ... not comfortable but definitely possible.

So with the bus full we’re off. Across 135km of the worst roads I have ever seen ... packed 4 to a bench in this minibus. Anticipating over 2 hours of the current conditions I try to sleep ... I have Erick on one side and a woman on the other ... conditions are perfect for the classic head-bob sleeping method ... not excited.

Lucky for our bench, the woman sitting next to me gets off as soon as we reach the outskirts of the city ... hello all kinds of room for sitting ... all of a sudden our tiny crowded bench becomes the most luxurious king sized lazy-boy ever ... 20 mins to the station.

Arrive at the station ... get off ... walk briskly towards an area in town where taxis park ... get in one ... pay extra to get the cab to ourselves ... living in luxury ... get dropped at another taxi station ... wait for 2 other people to come to fill the cab ... rush for the border ... an hour and a half later we arrive ... I wait in the cab ... the driver reassures me over and over how safe I am and how there is nothing to worry about ... unlike before his reassurances ... I begin to worry.

15mins ... Erick is back ... with Ken ... minus Ken’s passport ... troubles getting stamps but Erick’s on it. 10 more mins ... we’re on the road back to Lubumbashi ... tired ... hungry ... tired ... but with Ken's passport.

Lubumbashi ... food ... so good. Croissants with cabbage, mayo, and some ham ... so good.

Lunch in our stomachs ... off to the Bishop’s office ... not a big deal ... he’s a friend of ours. Walk in like we own the place ... he’s out ... like usual ... I deliver his gift to his secretary and chat for a little while then we’re off again. To the ATM ... the only one in the southern end of the country ... a month’s worth of money ... check.

Back to the bus station ... back on a bus ... the “best” bus ... we get the back seat this time ... Erick says that only 3 people sit in the back ... he spoke too soon ... 4 people in the back but less leg room than the other seats ... over 2 hours with almost zero leg room. My knees cramped about an hour in ... awesome. I quote Ken ... “this is bad news ... 200%” ... and it was. My hip is still sore from the trip.

At one point we had to pass through one of the toll booths and some guy saw me ... a muzungu ... cramped up in the back of the bus ... and yelled the classic line to his friend while pointing at me “MZUNGU!” ... this got the classic reaction from everyone on the bus ... laughter ... followed by some words ... followed by more laughter. Sometimes I wish I could speak Swahili ... and hope to learn some ... but just enough to understand what people say about me ... and maybe enough to respond with something witty ... like “I know what you’re saying” ... then I could laugh.

Overall the trip was a success ... we got Ken ... and made it back ... pretty safe ... not bad.

Much love ... I’ll keep updating ... sometimes ...

WILLIS


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5th February 2010

ahah! I can just imagine you shaking your luxurious long hair and laughing at their Swahili jokes after your witty come-back. To awesome.
9th February 2010

Love and prayers
Hi Willis: Absolutely amazing letters you are sending us. Keep up the good reports -- takes time but soooooo appreciated . What an advenure you are on. We are living it through you. Stay well and happy. Love,Grandma.

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