Crossing from The Congo to Kinshasa, Zaire 1999ImageMy trip to Zaire and the Congo began in Accra Ghana. I was met by a man from India who lives in Canada. He was a customer of mine while working for an international American corporation. I was to be escorted into Kinshasa, Zaire via Brazzaville, Congo with him to review his business and set up marketing strategies for him and his country. “It was best that I traveled with him into the territory rather than alone.” So he met me in Accra and we were on our way. Nothing out of the ordinary, flights normal and arrival timely.We arrived at 3 ahem to a dark and desolate country, a ‘guide’ took my passport and we were swept thru customs like celebrities…luckily there were taxis and we drove the dark streets to an also darkened hotel.As we entered the empty hotel we were greeted by several women with trays of warm cloths, bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste and trays of tea and sweets.After a short nap on the lounge chairs in the lobby, we awoke about 6 ayem and took a taxi to the dock of the Congo River to take a boat across, I was told. This trip seemed very different from all others I’d taken in and out of Africa in the past 5 years. But I was assured that this was really the best way to do this…So before dawn we arrive at the port and there is an enormous sea going ship with thousands of people standing about, women with baskets and parcels on the heads and holding the hands of countless children, barefoot men with tattered pants and shirts and cages of chickens and other fowl, blue plastic bags filled with carcasses of some dead dinner prospect I guess. Towering over 2 or 3 stories were bales of cotton cloth piled almost as high as the ship. The air was still and damp and smelled of coffee and bread. The children were crying or suffering from running noses. There were sheep tethered and piled on wooden pallets, and bins and boxes and crates of who knows what.I thought this was not my idea of 1st class travel with my company but here I am wondering what comes next. It was so crowded I was sure I was going to loose track of Mr X in the gloom.After leaving me for 20 mints or so I see that the ship is beginning to board and Mr X comes back to tell me it’s time to go.We walk along the river toward the ship, past the walkway and the crowd, where there is a beautiful, slick, totally modern out of hollywood cigarette boat, shiny and bright.There was a man at the wheel and a short plank and a steady hand guided me on and in the back seat. The two men were in front. The boat was so small that our meager luggage hardly fit. So with a turn of the key the boat hummed into life and we began pulling away from the dock, around and in front of the gargantuan ship.For the first time I noticed how fast the river was flowing, and if you haven’t seen a fast running river you have no way to expect it’s speed, i didn’t. As we began to cross the XXX wide river the sun peeped over the palm trees across it. We gathered up speed and the ship was left on the port loading up it’s passengers and animals and stuff.As we made our way I noticed the boat swinging ahead or behind the flow…missing entire trees moving thru the water at great speeds.Sitting in the back made a wonderful spot for observance and I began to reflect on where in the world i was. Sitting with two men, relatively unknown to me on a slick boat, crossing the Congo River at dawn, exhausted…I started to cry. How impossibly overwhelmed and lucky I am feeling, to be working at a job that required I travel to remote spots on the planet to do interesting work and meeting incredible people. I’m just a woman from Chicago finding myself on a boat on the Congo River…and it’s not over yet.As we finally approach the other shore, we pull along an equally huge ship. The driver lets MrX off who begins to climb the metal and mesh stairs attached to the outside of the ship facing the river, he reaches down, takes my hand and I follow him alongside a steel wall and the raging Congo river. We climb about 100 steps and find ourselves on the deck of the ship. We cross over to the land side, and there end to end are a fleet of black limousines with men in dark suits and glasses on cell phones waiting for Mr X. I’m wondering if in my exhaustion I missed that we were in a movie or something, but no, these were his guys and now the question is “who is this guy?”The fleet took off into one of the most desperate cities I’ve seen in the world. We had left Brazzaville, Congo and now were in Kinshasa, Zaire. Poverty was only hinted at on the opposite shore with all the people crowded together. The buildings were all cinder block, lifeless boxes with no window and doors with metal gates and huge locks. Shabby tin roofed houses comprised the rest of Kinshasa until you came to the ‘rich’ neighborhood and in passing it looked like a celebrity community in Los Angeles. Gorgeous new homes, wide rich lawns and high fences protected by security guards. And this is home to Mr X.My hotel was fine and new too, much like the one in Brazzaville, richly appointed, great food and a masseuse assigned to me everyday of my stay. After making arrangements to meet the next morning, I went to my room and crashed.the next morning I was picked up in a limo for breakfast and driven to my customers incredible house with glass enclosed breakfast room overlooking the pool. Business as usual and then to the shop. I left a home decorated with Boch bobois furniture, silk tapestries, hidden sound systems and guarded gardens of enormous flowers and fountains The shop was window less in a market place full of baboon hands and 12 foot snake skins overhead. They tell me that the shakes are captured by a village some miles away by the men who sit on the bank of the river with one leg extended into the water. the wiggle their feet to get the snakes attention. The snake swims to the moving object and opens its mouth to swallow the foot and then the leg. The ‘hunters’ then slice the snake off the thigh’s with a knife and the snake is dead. Not the job I’d want.I left Zaire, now apart of the Congo having lived and experienced the sublime to the ridiculous The state of the life there is unbelievable and unbearable even for the natives. Children are sick and uneducated, the women abused and circumcised, the men lost and spiritless.I came away with a parasite lodged under my little toe, when extracted it attached to me on a two foot filament. I had bad dreams that night.On my way to The Congo and Kinshasa

Crossing from The Congo to Kinshasa, Zaire  1999

Image

Crossing from The Congo to Kinshasa, Zaire 1999
Image
My trip to Zaire and the Congo began in Accra Ghana. I was met by a man from India who lives in Canada. He was a customer of mine while working for an international American corporation. I was to be escorted into Kinshasa, Zaire via Brazzaville, Congo with him to review his business and set up marketing strategies for him and his country. “It was best that I traveled with him into the territory rather than alone.” So he met me in Accra and we were on our way. Nothing out of the ordinary, flights normal and arrival timely.
We arrived at 3 ahem to a dark and desolate country, a ‘guide’ took my passport and we were swept thru customs like celebrities…luckily there were taxis and we drove the dark streets to an also darkened hotel.
As we entered the empty hotel we were greeted by several women with trays of warm cloths, bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste and trays of tea and sweets.
After a short nap on the lounge chairs in the lobby, we awoke about 6 ayem and took a taxi to the dock of the Congo River to take a boat across, I was told. This trip seemed very different from all others I’d taken in and out of Africa in the past 5 years. But I was assured that this was really the best way to do this…
So before dawn we arrive at the port and there is an enormous sea going ship with thousands of people standing about, women with baskets and parcels on the heads and holding the hands of countless children, barefoot men with tattered pants and shirts and cages of chickens and other fowl, blue plastic bags filled with carcasses of some dead dinner prospect I guess. Towering over 2 or 3 stories were bales of cotton cloth piled almost as high as the ship. The air was still and damp and smelled of coffee and bread. The children were crying or suffering from running noses. There were sheep tethered and piled on wooden pallets, and bins and boxes and crates of who knows what.
I thought this was not my idea of 1st class travel with my company but here I am wondering what comes next. It was so crowded I was sure I was going to loose track of Mr X in the gloom.
After leaving me for 20 mints or so I see that the ship is beginning to board and Mr X comes back to tell me it’s time to go.
We walk along the river toward the ship, past the walkway and the crowd, where there is a beautiful, slick, totally modern out of hollywood cigarette boat, shiny and bright.
There was a man at the wheel and a short plank and a steady hand guided me on and in the back seat. The two men were in front. The boat was so small that our meager luggage hardly fit. So with a turn of the key the boat hummed into life and we began pulling away from the dock, around and in front of the gargantuan ship.
For the first time I noticed how fast the river was flowing, and if you haven’t seen a fast running river you have no way to expect it’s speed, i didn’t. As we began to cross the XXX wide river the sun peeped over the palm trees across it. We gathered up speed and the ship was left on the port loading up it’s passengers and animals and stuff.
As we made our way I noticed the boat swinging ahead or behind the flow…missing entire trees moving thru the water at great speeds.
Sitting in the back made a wonderful spot for observance and I began to reflect on where in the world i was. Sitting with two men, relatively unknown to me on a slick boat, crossing the Congo River at dawn, exhausted…I started to cry. How impossibly overwhelmed and lucky I am feeling, to be working at a job that required I travel to remote spots on the planet to do interesting work and meeting incredible people. I’m just a woman from Chicago finding myself on a boat on the Congo River…and it’s not over yet.
As we finally approach the other shore, we pull along an equally huge ship. The driver lets MrX off who begins to climb the metal and mesh stairs attached to the outside of the ship facing the river, he reaches down, takes my hand and I follow him alongside a steel wall and the raging Congo river. We climb about 100 steps and find ourselves on the deck of the ship. We cross over to the land side, and there end to end are a fleet of black limousines with men in dark suits and glasses on cell phones waiting for Mr X. I’m wondering if in my exhaustion I missed that we were in a movie or something, but no, these were his guys and now the question is “who is this guy?”
The fleet took off into one of the most desperate cities I’ve seen in the world. We had left Brazzaville, Congo and now were in Kinshasa, Zaire. Poverty was only hinted at on the opposite shore with all the people crowded together. The buildings were all cinder block, lifeless boxes with no window and doors with metal gates and huge locks. Shabby tin roofed houses comprised the rest of Kinshasa until you came to the ‘rich’ neighborhood and in passing it looked like a celebrity community in Los Angeles. Gorgeous new homes, wide rich lawns and high fences protected by security guards. And this is home to Mr X.
My hotel was fine and new too, much like the one in Brazzaville, richly appointed, great food and a masseuse assigned to me everyday of my stay. After making arrangements to meet the next morning, I went to my room and crashed.
the next morning I was picked up in a limo for breakfast and driven to my customers incredible house with glass enclosed breakfast room overlooking the pool. Business as usual and then to the shop. I left a home decorated with Boch bobois furniture, silk tapestries, hidden sound systems and guarded gardens of enormous flowers and fountains The shop was window less in a market place full of baboon hands and 12 foot snake skins overhead. They tell me that the shakes are captured by a village some miles away by the men who sit on the bank of the river with one leg extended into the water. the wiggle their feet to get the snakes attention. The snake swims to the moving object and opens its mouth to swallow the foot and then the leg. The ‘hunters’ then slice the snake off the thigh’s with a knife and the snake is dead. Not the job I’d want.
I left Zaire, now apart of the Congo having lived and experienced the sublime to the ridiculous The state of the life there is unbelievable and unbearable even for the natives. Children are sick and uneducated, the women abused and circumcised, the men lost and spiritless.
I came away with a parasite lodged under my little toe, when extracted it attached to me on a two foot filament. I had bad dreams that night.My trip to Zaire and the Congo began in Accra Ghana.  I was met by a man from India who lives in Canada.  He was a customer of mine while working for an international American corporation.  I was to be escorted into Kinshasa, Zaire via Brazzaville, Congo with him to review his business and set up marketing strategies for him and his country.  “It was best that I traveled with him into the territory rather than alone.”   So he met me in Accra and we were on our way. Nothing out of the ordinary, flights normal and arrival timely.

We arrived at 3 ahem to a dark and desolate country, a ‘guide’ took my passport and we were swept thru customs like celebrities…luckily there were taxis and we drove the dark streets to an also darkened hotel.

As we entered the empty hotel we were greeted by several women with trays of warm cloths, bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste and trays of tea and sweets.

After a short nap on the lounge chairs in the lobby, we awoke about 6 ayem and took a taxi to the dock of the Congo River to take a boat across, I was told.  This trip seemed very different from all others I’d taken in and out of Africa in the past 5 years.  But I was assured that this was really the best way to do this…

So before dawn we arrive at the port and there is an enormous sea going ship with thousands of people standing about, women with baskets and parcels on the heads and holding the hands of countless children, barefoot men with tattered pants and shirts and cages of chickens and other fowl, blue plastic bags filled with carcasses of some dead dinner prospect I guess.  Towering over 2 or 3 stories were bales of cotton cloth piled almost as high as the ship.  The air was still and damp and smelled of coffee and bread.  The children were crying or suffering from running noses.  There were sheep tethered and piled on wooden pallets, and bins and boxes and crates of who knows what.

I thought this was not my idea of 1st class travel with my company but here I am wondering what comes next.  It was so crowded I was sure I was going to loose track of Mr X in the gloom.

After leaving me for 20 mints or so I see that the ship is beginning to board and Mr X comes back to tell me it’s time to go.

We walk along the river toward the ship, past the walkway and the crowd, where there is a beautiful, slick, totally modern out of hollywood cigarette boat, shiny and bright.

There was a man at the wheel and a short plank and a steady hand guided me on and in the back seat.  The two men were in front.  The boat was so small that our meager luggage hardly fit.  So with a turn of the key the boat hummed into life and we began pulling away from the dock, around and in front of the gargantuan ship.

For the first time I noticed how fast the river was flowing, and if you haven’t seen a fast running river you have no way to expect it’s speed, i didn’t.  As we began to cross the XXX wide river the sun peeped over the palm trees across it.  We gathered up speed and the ship was left on the port loading up it’s passengers and animals and stuff.

As we made our way I noticed the boat swinging ahead or behind the flow…missing entire trees moving thru the water at great speeds.

Sitting in the back made a wonderful spot for observance and I began to reflect on where in the world i was.  Sitting with two men, relatively unknown to me on a slick boat, crossing the Congo River at dawn, exhausted…I started to cry.  How impossibly overwhelmed and lucky I am feeling, to be working at a job that required I travel to remote spots on the planet to do interesting work and meeting incredible people.  I’m just a woman from Chicago finding myself on a boat on the Congo River…and it’s not over yet.

As we finally approach the other shore, we pull along an equally huge ship.  The driver lets MrX off who begins to climb the metal and mesh stairs attached to the outside of the ship facing the river, he reaches down, takes my hand and I follow him alongside a steel wall and the raging Congo river.  We climb about 100 steps and find ourselves on the deck of the ship.  We cross over to the land side, and there end to end are a fleet of black limousines with men in dark suits and glasses on cell phones waiting for Mr X. I’m wondering if in my exhaustion I missed that we were in a movie or something, but no, these were his guys and now the question is “who is this guy?”

The fleet took off into one of the most desperate cities I’ve seen in the world.  We had left Brazzaville, Congo and now were in Kinshasa, Zaire. Poverty was only hinted at on the opposite shore with all the people crowded together.  The buildings were all cinder block, lifeless boxes with no window and doors with metal gates and huge locks.  Shabby tin roofed houses comprised the rest of Kinshasa until you came to the ‘rich’ neighborhood and in passing it looked like a celebrity community in Los Angeles.  Gorgeous new homes, wide rich lawns and high fences protected by security guards.  And this is home to Mr X.

My hotel was fine and new too, much like the one in Brazzaville, richly appointed, great food and a masseuse assigned to me everyday of my stay.  After making arrangements to meet the next morning, I went to my room and crashed.

the next morning I was picked up in a limo for breakfast and driven to my customers incredible house with glass enclosed breakfast room overlooking the pool.  Business as usual and then to the shop.  I left a home decorated with Boch bobois furniture, silk tapestries, hidden sound systems and guarded gardens of enormous flowers and fountains  The shop was window less in a market place full of baboon hands and 12 foot snake skins overhead.  They tell me that the shakes are captured by a village some miles away by the men who sit on the bank of the river with one leg extended into the water.  the wiggle their feet to get the snakes attention.  The snake swims to the moving object and opens its mouth to swallow the foot and then the leg.  The ‘hunters’ then slice the snake off the thigh’s with a knife and the snake is dead.  Not the job I’d want.

I left Zaire, now apart of the Congo having lived and experienced the sublime to the ridiculous  The state of the life there is unbelievable and unbearable even for the natives.  Children are sick and uneducated, the women abused and circumcised, the men lost and spiritless.

I came away with a parasite lodged under my little toe, when extracted it attached to me on a two foot filament.  I had bad dreams that night.

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About What The Traveler Saw

What The Traveler Saw is what I want to share with you. I amass goods from around the world that represent the countries I visit. I no longer have a shop but I am encouraging all to join me on the trips we took before and the new ones ... Come See, What The Traveler Saw. This is how I see my world... http://www.flixxy.com/wonderful-world-david-attenborough.htm I find myself at a time in my life that I am focused now on seeing how gifted my life is, how healthy I still am and how aware I am of my strengths and weaknesses. My loves are clearer to me after having a celebrated life of lots of good and a bit of bad. But, that just gave me the insight that I have worked with up to now. Come on...Let's see what's in the world we live in!

4 comments

  1. WHAT THE TRAVELER SAW (or seen)

    Ahaaa! I could match your adventurous adventure you know.. And Btw, you left out the part of how in the evening, after a cold water bucket-bath, and how that refreshingly cold beer would taste, during a delicious meal. Ahaa, what an exhilarating feeling;-) Then, if a male, to bed with a beautiful woman.. Then to sleep.

  2. “I left Zaire, now apart of the Congo having lived and experienced the sublime to the ridiculous The state of the life there is unbelievable and unbearable even for the natives. Children are sick and uneducated, the women abused and circumcised, the men lost and spiritless.

    I came away with a parasite lodged under my little toe, when extracted it attached to me on a two foot filament. I had bad dreams that night.”

    Why, Laurel?

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