Travel to the Congo
Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
14Trip End Oct 09, 2012
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I was able to get back to sleep and slept pretty well all things considered.
Nathan and Moise came to the hotel at 10:00 so we could take care of last minutes arrangements and I could settle some expenses we had incurred. Nathan said his brother had has a good night and was doing pretty well. They drove me to the airport where I arrived a little after 10:30 and checked in for the Kenya Airways flights, first to Nairobi then to Kinshasa. There was an amusing mixup at security. They guards told me to take the laptop out of the case as usual, but when I was told to take my topsiders off, I replied that they wouldn’t "beep" in the metal detector, so I was allowed to keep them on. After passing through the machine without setting it off, I put my keys and cell phone back on, then the operator said “you didn’t take your shoes off.” I reminded him that I had just gone through the metal detector without setting it off. He insisted the rules were that they shoes had to go through the x-ray machine. Fine, I took them off and walked back through to put the shoes through, and since I had my phone on again, the machine beeped as I went through. Ah hah! They want to do a pat down now. I explained that I had been through without setting off the machine already but had put my phone back on. Nothing doing: wand and pat down de rigueur. Smile and cooperate.
The flight was on time to Nairobi, I finished my last book, an excellent spy novel by William F. Buckley. During my hour layover in Nairobi I bought another book in one of the airport bookstores, my last chance to buy and English book until I reach Paris.
The flight to Kinshasa was uneventful; we arrived on time at 9:00 pm, which was 11:00 in Nairobi. Formalities went quickly, and my suitcase arrived fairly quickly in the warehouse-like baggage claim area. The ceiling is black cement with wires and vestiges of tubing hanging every which way, the suspended ceiling is long gone. There are 4 air conditioners the size of large upright freezers standing against the wall, but none of them work, so it’s sweltering. I’m happy get outside, where it’s also sweltering but easier to breathe. Justin and Victor are there to meet me and we walk to a nearby taxi man with whom they had agreed on a price. When the driver saw I was white, however, he wanted to renegotiate the price upwards. We tried reason but he wouldn’t agree, so we moved on and found another taxi that would accept 25 dollars.
The roads have improved markedly since my last visit, more preparations for the Francophonie conference will be held in a few more months. At the hotel I pay the driver and thank Justin and Victor. We say goodnight until tomorrow morning.