Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 1 in Kinshasa

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.". This quote, which I learned as an exchange student, seems particularly appropriate for this trip. This morning, we got up planning to go to Kinshasa. (The capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.) We didn't yet have visas; all we knew for sure was that our co-worker had called the DRC embassy the week before and was told that they don't issue visas anymore to anyone who isn't a Congolese citizen. Having learned from our trip so far that nothing is impossible, we went to the embassy anyway. Painted in bright letters above the window where we had to apply for the visa were the words "patientez s'il vous plait.". How appropriate that the French have come up with a verb for "patient". We "patiented", and with the help of our stellar clerk's rep Angelique and a local CSO member we had met in one of our meetings we got our visas. Then we had to find a boat to take us across. Although a very affordable way to make the. Crossing is to illegally paddle across the river in a canoe, something we saw several people doing, we decided this wasn't for us and bought tickets for a motor-powered boat. It had no offical departure time; it would leave as soon as it was full. So we sat down and "patiented". The flexibility continued once we had crossed the river and were met by our local colleagues in Kinshasa. They had organized everything; I had requested to meet with a local group of translators and one or two of the informal Christian Science Groups in the city, but had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn't expect to be meeting with both a translator and an informal group simultaneously, while Lari met with other people involved with radio-
all while eating somewhat- american fast food at a local restaurant. But that's what happened, and it was wonderful.