"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

4.27.2006

a lighter shade of blue

The lake changed color. It was so strange and so sudden - Tuesday morning I sat there eating breakfast, watching the lake change colors in stripes. I thought maybe it was just me until my taxi driver into town took one look at the lake and yelped. Seems it was a surprise to everyone. (This taxi driver, Theo, also asked me if you had to pay a dowry to get married in America, or if it's free. He couldn't believe that it's "free.").

So then it was a question of what happened. It's hard to explain how different things are - Lake Kivu went from being the color of Lake Travis to the color of the Thunsee at Interlaken, or the Caribbean (so I'm told). I thought maybe someone dumped a bunch of chlorine in the lake or something. Finally, Eva told me yesterday that it's due to some algae rising in the lake. It happens every two years or so. Nobody knows why. Anyway, it's absolutely beautiful, if a bit creepy. The turqoise water contrasts with the blue sky, purple mountains, green grass, and bright flowers.

Tuesday night while I was staring at the lake, a storm suddenly rolled in. The sky was so beautiful that I took a picture, but then it started to rain really quickly and I had to jump inside. I didn't think much of it, except that the wind was so high and the temperature dropped really quickly - the wind was so strong that I had to close the windows. But it stopped really quickly. Come to find out Wednesday afternoon that it was a tornado. It formed over the lake and broke up just before hitting land. Yes, a tornado. In central Africa. What a lovely reminder of home, just when I'm feeling a little homesick.

For the record, that brings the total number of (natural) disasters/effects witnessed in the three months I've been in Goma to 3: 1 volcano eruption, 1 earthquake, and 1 tornado. I can't wait to see what a tsunami looks like.

Perhaps I'm being a bit overdramatic. But, seriously. A tornado? Why? As Martin Bell says in this BBC article, it sometimes seems like everything bad is right here in this one little place:

"Sometimes it seems that all the ills of the earth have befallen this one country at one time.

The people need a rescue, a miracle - or at very least a change of fortune - perhaps more than any other.

After all that has happened, it seems unlikely but it has to be possible."

The wind has been really high these last couple of days, whipping up whitecaps in the lake. On my evening walk yesterday, I looked up and saw something I've never seen before: a bird hovering in place. It was surreal. He hardly flapped his wings. I guess he was riding the air coming off the lake. Or the air pushing down from the volcano in the other direction. It's a wonder we didn't have another tornado.

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