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 [livejournal.com profile] booksymagnifico!!

And, because good things always come in pairs, happy birthday to [livejournal.com 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.

Liars

Mar. 6th, 2006 11:49 am
amalthya: (silly crazy)
Saturday 4:10 pm

Gaaaaahhhh I really am going stir crazy. Also, I think "Stimorol" the gum probably is full of CRACK. Crack crack crack!

Whomsoever said that ironing was fun was a big, cleanly-pressed liar. The chimps had food when I did upon arriving home, and now they're napping, and so I'm bobbling around my room. I decided that I should actually iron all of the clothes that were washed this week.

I'd rather spend the hour doing that than pick at some icky mango fly pustule for a month.

I always know when I'm really needing to reconnect, because I start re-reading old emails that were downloaded ages ago. Especially with the ones that still make me laugh, it feels like I'm reading them for the first time, when, in fact, I've had no "outside" contact for a week.

It's just one more night.

*sigh*

Sometimes, this is tough.

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amalthya

November 2009

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