Addresses, Giggles, Old Friends and New
I'm getting back to Congo-related stuff after taking a break. I've been working on a post about the Kamwina Nsapu uprising and clashes with government soldiers (the main reason Caitlin could not go) and needed to step back for a bit. Some 5,000 people were killed during the two-year conflict and it still hangs heavy over the region, an eerie vapor of suspicion and anger that you can almost touch. It's complicated — and hard to write about.
Meanwhile, I'm finally getting my act together to send out the little notes and chotchkis and the Kuba cloth that I promised my 145 Kickstarter backers who made this all possible.
I had promised them postcards sent from Kinshasa. Congo — still called Zaire when I was a volunteer way back when — used to have these fun international aerogrammes and I thought they would be perfect. I went to the cavernous, dusty post office in Kinshasa, and found a lone clerk sitting behind the counter. She didn't look up from her phone when I asked her if she had postcards or aerogrammes. Stiff silence as I just stood there looking at her. She finally gave a heavy sigh — the lament of sullen civil servants worldwide — and shook her head no. So then I asked how much it would be for me to mail a standard letter to the States. That got her attention. First she said $15. As my eyes widened, she announced that she was mistaken, it would be $25 for each letter. I laughed, she shrugged — and then she finally laughed too.
So my friends will get painted cards made by street artists, but mailed from Moraga!
Two things I hope will make you smile. Nick had fun all throughout our trip taking short videos of the kids who would always surround us wherever we'd go. He'd play them back; their reactions were infectious!
Finally, I had lunch today with two old friends Peace Corps friends, Amy and Helena, and made a new Congolese friend, Mutombo, who hails from Mbuji-Mayi. What fun we had reminiscing; Mutombo was amazed by our stories about how much our Peace Corps experienced shaped our lives.