Friday, April 15, 2011

Easternish/Central DRC

Kisangani, DRC
12 April 2011

It seems like it rains every time I get on a plane in the DRC. This morning when we set out for the airport at 0500 the roads were already a good foot deep and in a couple places the roads had a current and rapids marked the potholes in the street. One of my friends scored seats on a MONUSCO flight so we were flying for free to Kisangani. The line was chaotic to register for the flight and the babel from the UN workers gave way to English as the universal language to share information. They tried to enforce order on the line but gave up and handled the check-in like in any other African airport as the crowd pressed to the front. A couple flights were scheduled for the morning but one was canceled due to the weather and most were delayed several hours, including ours to Kisangani. The flight was only a third full and we had plenty of space to stretch out on the Boeing 737-200 for the three hour flight (drink service by the Spanish UN crew included).

On the ground in Kisangani we were met by a western cowboy wearing a five-gallon hat who drove us into town and past the agricultural project and fish ponds he was managing for Texas A&M. After checking into our hotel we set out to explore the town and ended up eating stewed goat over rice in a local restaurant then hanging out at the Greek Cultural Center. For fun later we took moto-taxis across town and hung out with some other locals. UN and many other lettered vehicles were constantly circulating through town but most of the Bangladeshi and Uruguayan blue hats were restricted to their bases and not able hang out in town like us. It seems pretty safe here, much nicer than Kinshasa, so it seems odd that the UN troops think they need to stay cloistered behind concertina wire, high walls, and machine guns in guard posts.

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