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


at last!

I finally found a better internet cafe! I still can't post pictures, but I can upload them to the Internets, so if you'd like to see some pictures of the beautiful city of Bukavu, you can look at those here.

It's the weekend, so things are pretty low-key in Bukavu. Yesterday I had good interviews in the morning, then struck out at 4 different ngo's in the afternoon. It was a little depressing, but I should be able to get interviews at each place eventually.

Otherwise, things here are fine. I wish I had more to write about, but for the moment, it's pretty low-key. I am housesitting for a civilian peacekeeper who's on holiday. The house is not super-nice, but it's perfectly adequate and comfortable, and she has tons of DVD's, so when the electricity is on, I have entertainment.

Her dog, however, is another story. Perhaps I should give some background. In 2000, I was an intern in Yaounde, Cameroon. I had a great house there provided by my internship, but part of the deal was that I had to put up with the animals of the former occupant, who was moving to another post (and who had removed all of her stuff, except her animals, from the country). So I got to spend the summer with an ill-tempered dog and a trilingual parrot.

Now. I don't have anything against dogs or pets in general, but I think it's pretty cruel to drag your dog to Africa, where he or she will be exposed to all kinds of nasty diseases, bugs, and water. Not to mention the heat. And it may have just been me, but it seemed pretty clear that the Yaounde dog didn't seem to like Africa one little bit. He hated being outside and spent most of his time trying to get wet and shaking water all over the living room.

I swore I would never watch anyone else's pets in Africa again.

Enter Bukavu. See, the plan was that I would stay at the Procure. S was in Goma last Saturday night, so we had dinner and talked about Bukavu, which she knows much better than I. Sunday when she got to B, she called some friends, determined that, while the Procure itself is perfectly safe, its neighborhood is inaccessible and sketchy after dark, and she found me a house to housesit. I met the peacekeeper on her way out of town Tuesday morning, agreed to watch her dog in exchange for cheap rent, and moved into a little house near the MONUC compound and the French consulate (the fact that there's a French consulate tells you just how different Bukavu is from Goma).

And then I met The Dog. Who is, to be fair, a perfectly nice dog. He actually seems to be a little depressed that he's been left behind. When I try to play with him, he often just stares and then goes back to sleep. The peacekeeper warned me that The Dog would be sad without her around, so I'm not terribly concerned. He's still breathing and eating normally. But. But.

The first night I was there, The Dog started barking at 3:30am. Were there robbers? A storm? Did he need to go out? No, no, and no. He wanted to play. At 3:30 in the morning.

I don't have time for this. And I don't have much of an appreciation for a dog who refuses to go out and do his business after 7pm, but who then wakes me up howling at 6:30 or 7 if I haven't already let him out. I need to sleep. That's all I'm saying.

I shouldn't complain. It's good to have another inexpensive place to stay. And The Dog will be going to stay with someone else in a week or so. For this, I am grateful. And I hereby swear, once again, with all of you as witnesses, that I will never, EVER again agree to watch someone else's dogs in Africa.


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