Wednesday, September 25, 2013

i'm a pretty good kinshasa tour guide

when the conservation thing doesn't work out, i am going to start a tour guide business in kinshasa (if  just only i had darker skin....).
so for this trip i am brought some help down to kinshasa to do some press for our project (stay tuned for killer photos and video, and maybe even a guest blogger). and though my donor is accusing me of nepotism, i selected some good friends for this task. i don't care what the donor rules are, i am not going into potentially hairy situations with people i don't know or trust, and i am not a babysitter. besides, my friends will do this for half the price, and they'll let me put them in said hairy situaitons and probably smile about it. AND, everyone loves them and wants to invite them back.
so eric and edouard arrived a few days after me (and broke every airport rule i gave them), and i set them up with 2 cheap bedrooms in some apartment i found. it turns out to be a UN flophouse/frathouse on the 26th floor penthouse of the building with the giant samsung billboard on it. the view is insane. the elevator is crazier. you go up with blue helmet UN guys, or ladies with big bowls on their heads full of fruit, selling door to door. some of the floors are totally run down and abandoned. the elevator doesn't go all the way up so the last few floors you have to hoof it but then, you feel this breeze: from brazzaville to the airport, from gombe to kitambo, the entire upper layer of kinshasa is yours and yours alone. it's a total man-house with cable tv and cold beer kinda thing and my guys couldn't be happier. but what's better? papi the taximan lives downstairs! it's probably one of the most absolute shadiest corners of town but papi can drive right into the garage: perfect! 
view from above

the first week has been the accustomization phase, where i bring eric and edouard simoultaneously to the most fanciest, and the most crappiest places in kin. so they get their bearings. i think it's working. we had 40$ scrimps one night, followed by eating goat bits in the dark with toothpicks, sitting in broken plastic chairs the next. where are the bathrooms? uhhhhhh everywhere (i don't drink liquids so i don't have to go) eric, who is an exact replica of disco stu asks "is this my introduction to bushmeat?" 
ever since he has been rather pale and complaining of stomach cramps. he falls asleep a lot too. we met the head of the parks department, he says to a wincing eric, on whom you can see the waves of stomach pains rippling in his smile "first order of business, is never come to my office in flip flops." and so we left and went to look for a pharmacy. 

on friday night i brought them to the hottest new club in town: the kwilu bar. every other place is now empty, pretty much every UN car in the fleet is parked outside kwilu. this is the place to be. you can actually sit outside on couches and listen to music that goes beyond crappy congolese disco - you can hear the macarena and jay z hip hop too. all my colleagues were calling me "where should we go tonight carbon girl?" and so here we all were. sadly, we shared a table with some gentlemen from an oil company who were all jazzed about digging for oil in virungas national park - that was not a fun discussion, and around 1 am and too many cocktails later (kwilu is awful congolese rhum) my eyelids were getting droopy and i was thinking about my bed. edouard says, look, there's papi! great, my taxi is here, time to go. i bid my farewells and go over to papi when i realize, oh, he is not here to take me home he is here to party! so, party with the taxi driver, let's do shots and then you can drive me home. this is kinshasa! 

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