yesterday i arrived in kinshasa for a couple of days of meetings. here are some thoughts:
1. i vowed to never fly a blacklisted airline. unfortunately ALL airlines in congo are blacklisted. therefore, i change my vow to just flying as seldom as possible. caa plane i flew actually seemed fairly new, so i only said about 18 prayers to god, allah and the great spirit before we took off, rather than chanting constantly the entire flight.
2. kinshasa is enormous. in the same way gisenyi seemed shockingly clean, kin seems shockingly tall and busy. there is actually traffic! and it's not just a bunch of UN cars stuck in a line! there are buildings more than 3 stories tall! it takes more then 15 minutes to cross town! this is not a new revelation, but i will say again how fast one adjusts to the current norms. i can't imagine how i'll feel landing in dc or nyc in june... i'll be a total country bumpkin and do nothing but stare at the buildings, eat ice cream and remark on how smooth the roads are.
3. apparently kinshasa is where those big yellow american school buses come to spend their golden years. it's like florida for buses, except without the shuffleboard. all over town there are buses that read XXXXX district schools or XXXXX county school system, where the name has been blacked out with paint. how did they get here? who sent them? and do the old drivers that used to love them ever wonder how they're doing? well i can tell you: they are jam packed with people, zooming around town as public buses, and looking quite well, actually, aside from a layer of grime and soot.
4. it's really odd to be working out of the conservation international office here in kinshasa... especially as the director here had essentially my job at dfgfi only a couple years ago!