amalthya: (Jarry)
Wednesday 1:26 pm

Well, so much for the drive home back to Entebbe. Be prepared for:


Yes, that's right. I'm taking the bus back to Entebbe, and I think I'll head out the 20th of March and make the big trek on the 21st from Kisoro. It means I'll have about 3-4 days to go over everything with Liz, but with the handbook it shouldn't be too tough.

I'm sort of already checked-out in my brain... I can't really explain it. I also sort of feel the need to defend my insanity just by mentioning that I get to actually speak to other people maybe once every like, 3-4 days. Usually one can bounce ideas off others to gain perspective, but, well... I talk to myself in my off-line journal posts!

... No, that doesn't really solve it, does it?

I mean, if worse comes to worse, I can always pant-hoot at my friends back home. They'll understand, right? I also scheduled in my Lasertag MD homecoming, so check your email.

Anyway, it's time for me to be heading back to the Chateau. Food might even be in order too. I made another silly Insecure Girl comic, find it here
amalthya: (Ink Squirt)
Saturday 3:21 pm

I'll admit that the isolation is making me a little stir-crazy, but it doesn't prevent me from sending huge birthday wishes to [ profile] booksymagnifico!!

And, because good things always come in pairs, happy birthday to [ profile] vlamidala too!!


Something wonky is going on with money at the office, but it was certainly surprising to me when the groceries-guy came back and told me the office didn't have the money to buy the food for the chimpanzees -- or the humans -- at the Chateau Chimpanzee. It was annoying too that Jean Bosco, the potentially questionable Head Accountant at the office -- told them to get the money from me.

It's hard not to resent being put upon, or to have people's welfare resting on your fiscally insecure shoulders. The fact is, I didn't have all the money they needed, so I gave them money for the chimpanzees' food, and today, around noon, I walked over to the Grand Lac to get lunch and dinner from my favorite Lebanese restaurant.

I've commented on it before, but there is such dichotomy in Goma. I walked across "the elephant graveyard" -- the area where the lava flow runs clear through the center of town and car husks lie there, stuck in time. The air was rank with the stink of burning, festering trash.

Over to my right was the remnants of what must have been an incredibly posh hotel. In front of it now was a stinking sea of trash. Reflected in the enormous bay windows at the side of the hotel, you could see small children with no shoes and scraps for clothing, rummaging through the sea with their small green plastic bags open, ready for whatever treasure they might unearth.

I was talking about the state of Goma with Wamud, the guy who owns the Lebanese restaurant. I was dying to speak English with someone -- anyone -- so I was really glad when he asked if he could sit down at my table while I waited for the food to be prepared. He didn't understand half of what I said, but I expressed the frustration to him about constantly being asked for money that, honestly, I don't have to give. He didn't believe me when I told him that I'd lived in Goma for two months for less than $1000.

Laughing, I received the sage advice that, in Goma, "nothing is cheap but the women" ...

It was really nice to sit down and chat with someone, although our conversation included the requisite question: "Are you married?"

I guess even for a Lebanese guy living in Goma it's a favorite pick-up line. *sigh*

I think that, aside from the chimpanzees, what makes Goma so endearing is the fact that these people, living in absolutely deplorable conditions, find joy in the smallest things. It's what drew me to the villagers in Kenya, but here things seem so much harsher.

Two days ago I saw this guy who had one of the traditional Congolese "bicycles" -- but he'd painted it white and had these enormous glittering silver tassels on the handlebars. He was singing, coasting down a big hill, his tassels fluttering in the wind.

There's also this bent-over old lamppost on the way to the elephant graveyard. I'm sure the lava bent it in the heat, but now it's pretty much parallel to the ground. It sort of bobs up and down, and most every time I pass by, there are kids on it, using it as sort of a pseudo-see-saw.

I really enjoy my daytime walks through Goma, although it's often difficult to keep your eyes off the ground -- volcanic terrain is pretty uneven, and, as most of you know, it doesn't take volcanic rubble to make me fall down.

I'm going to head to Gisenyi tomorrow for some respite -- plus, I really want to swim in Lake Kivu. Then I'll head into the office on Monday and sleep there Monday night. With any luck, I'll get paid back on Tuesday for the money I've doled out. As much as I've enjoyed finally learning to communicate with Bonane, and the various door-security guards (I actually managed to explain evolution in broken French!), I could really use someone else to talk to.

So, next week (since this won't get posted until Monday), if anyone feels like calling me, I'll be really grateful. I'm 7 hours ahead of EST -- and the number is posted in the top entry of the page.
amalthya: (Default)
Wednesday 9:48 am

Woa, it's March! When did that happen? During my course of writing, I've been re-reading a lot of my journal entries from like, 1995 and 1996. And I realized that today is the 10 year anniversary of my first kiss! Funny!

I slept better last night than I have in a really long time. It's probably because, after seeing my sad mattress on the floor, Rita went and had the project get me a real bedframe, sheets and a blanket. Oh, and pillows! Previously I'd been using my monkey airplane neck pillow, given to me by [ profile] booksymagnifico, as my sole pillow.

And wow, having a bedframe is really underrated! Funny to think, but the chimpanzees were sleeping more luxuriously than I was before.
Yesterday, after I came back from the office, I was sitting out in the playfield as Etaito slept soundly, his face smushed into my tummy, snoring idly. I looked over and saw this bird, building a nest in the tree right outside the compound. The tree was vibrant, blooming flowers in this almost iridescent purple color.

And suddenly, Goma sort of... came alive to me. I'm not really sure how best to describe it, but I saw past the gray, harsh volcanic rocks and started noticing the living, breathing aspects.

I was like a Polly Pocket before, living in a a world that I perceived to be small, plastic and immutable. Me, walking in front of a blue screen showing some indeterminate locale, with the only part I identified as being "real" and "living" as me. It's a totally narcissistic viewpoint, but considering how many places I've seen, lived in, and stayed in the last 9 months I can certainly understand it.

There are so many concurrent flows of Goma, watching the various families of birds, little furry rodents and people, all trying to survive. I suddenly really liked Goma, and wondered how I would ever leave the chimpanzees. It all felt so real, and feeling the comfort and love of Etaito there, sleeping on my chest... this sounds horrible, and melodramatic, but I... I wasn't sure how I'd live without that. Would everything else feel second-best and ergo somehow meaningless afterwards?

The guy from the office came with the weekly food for the chimpanzees. Okeysha ran over to see what was going on and Etaito, who had slept through the entire entrance, suddenly awoke as he heard Okeysha doing the Food Call.

In the wild, if a chimpanzee or a group has found a particularly big fruit tree or something comparable, they will do this excited call, to alert other chimpanzees and probably also to let off some excitement from the find. It's a very tense time for wild chimpanzees, and, funnily, most of the males become erect with food-excitement.

A lot of times the excitement leads to fights in the wild. Bonobos, on the other hand, diffuse the excitement with sex.

Oh yes, food is an exciting time. Bonane and I went over to the fruit bag and were making the excited food calls. I even ate a banana between calls and god, it was just so much fun. Chimpanzees crawling all over me, calling back and forth to each other and to me, all of us eating bananas.

I'm really glad that Debby isn't coming until at least the 12th now.


amalthya: (Default)

November 2009

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