Saturday, June 6, 2009

First working day (Friday June 5).

Macartan (he will be introduce in a future post) told us that the day after arrival should be a day to relax, because soon after that it will be work, work and work. He told us to expect to work around 15 hours a day, 7 days a week; and that for two months. Well, that idea of having the first day after arrival as a relax day didn’t really work out. Yesterday I woke up at 6am, Simon before 7am and at 8am we were both at the compound; also called IRC headquarters or more commonly “the base”. There is a lot of stuff to do, and I have to say that the both of us are eager to work. Again, the IRC is well-organized. We received a fully-furnished office for the two of us (Columbia University do you hear this!), and - important - around 11am somebody passed by to bring us some coffee. On our first working day we mainly did two things: 1. Meeting many new people and introducing ourselves ("we are the two guys that will be evaluating TUUNGANE"), and 2. Installing ourselves in the office and doing the preparatory work for the four projects (set out a road map for upcoming two months, wrote a bunch of memo’s, who is responsible for what, etc.). Already at around 530pm, however, we had to leave the base as it was getting dark and we still wanted to pass by a supermarket. Although we were by car with driver one should not do that in the dark; and around 6pm it is dark. After a great dinner (which was prepared by our cook), we worked on our COMPS (unfortunately, definitely more on this in future posts). We went to bed around 1130pm; still tired from flying around I think.

Some final completely random notes.

1. Some things already went wrong. But, each of these did not happen in the DR Congo. Simon’s trousers tore apart at Schiphol airport. When undressing for the security gate at Schiphol I tore my belt in two pieces. Finally, the airplane from Kigali left one hour too EARLY; without any explanation. Here in Bukavu we heard that that happens regularly and that the Rwanda Airlines, as a result, often leave people in Kigali. 2. On day number 1 Simon lost his phone. It is back again, but I just had to write this down. :). 3. The shower is cold; no hot water whatsoever. There is also not much pressure; close to none. For the people that experienced my shower in Harlem; we have even less pressure here. But we don't mind (of course). 4. Yesterday morning we had breakfast with good coffee and pancakes; both made by the cook. Incredible. 5. Yesterday, we saw the first FARDC troops. Only two trucks with around 12 men. FARDC is the government army and known for their looting; which is not strange as most of them haven’t been paid for months. They behaved. 6. The supermarket was extremelty expensive, but we already heard about that. Still, $67 for some cookies, some crackers. 5 liter red wine, shampoo, and 6 apples. That's a lot.

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