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


over and out

I woke up at 6 this morning, took a shower, got dressed, finished packing, and opened the curtains to see a group of soldiers playing leapfrog out by the lake. Apparently they're now having Saturday-morning karate lessons. By the time we left, they were practicing their chops and kicks. With gusto, as my mom would say.

This bizarre routine somehow seemed appropriate for my last morning in Congo. E and Olivier and I left for the bus station in the fog of trash fires. Goma has recently re-instituted a weekly tradition in which everyone in the city is supposed to work cooperatively to collect and burn all the trash in the streets. It's called the solonge, a Lingala word which implies working together for the common good. I'm not entirely clear on how polluting the already gas-filled air contributes to community development. At any rate, it made the city look surreal.
The bus was full when we got there. I hugged Olivier tightly and told him to remember that he is loved, said good-bye to E, and paid an extra half fare ($2) for my bag before squeezing into a seat at the back between Matt, another American who's been at Heal all summer, and an Italian nun headed to Salerno to find her replacement because she's been in Congo for 37 years and it's time to retire. We chatted some, about Goma and the villages south of Naples and the hissing sound that seemed to be coming from the back tire, then drifted off into silence and Rwanda's thousand hills.

We got to Kigali with plenty of time to make it to the stores before they close (at 1pm on Saturdays), so I changed to an earlier flight tomorrow, had pizza for lunch at my favorite Kigali restaurant, marvelled at Kigali's new mall, got some groceries, and found a copy of the American edition of Harry Potter #7. (We're not going to talk about how much that last one cost.) I head to Nairobi tomorrow at dawn. Somehow I'm guessing there won't be any leapfrogging soldiers there.


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