Thursday, July 9, 2009

From Bukavu to Lubumbashi.

Woke up at 5am yesterday. Reason: at 630am an IRC car picked us up for the airport (and I still had some emails to send before that). We were heading to Lubumbashi; capital of Haut Katanga.

Leaving Bukavu.
We flew from Bukavu’s airport; called Kivuma Airport. The airport is about 1.5 hours from Bukavu by 4x4 and difficult to reach. Why? We think it is for security reasons. Kivuma airport is an UN military airport; the UN has airlift, the FDLR has not. Anyhow, because it is military airport we were instructed that it was strictly prohibited from making any pictures. Therefore, please find here some pictures:

The airport did not give us a comfortable feeling: there were mostly plane wrecks and old Russian helicopters and planes around. Luckily we had been able to arrange two seats in a European Commission plane. At around 830am a Bombardier Dash 8 Series 100 with a European Union flag landed. Then after about a 1.5 hour flight we arrived in Kalemie – the capital of the province Tanyanika. The city – and the airport – is situated right next to Lake Tanyanika. Also here was a MONUC base; together with more helicopter wrecks and several UN Antonov 24RVplanes. The terminal was not in a too good shape. Simon said that the terminal is even worse than the ones at Charles de Gaulle - he shouldn't push it of course. Check out the terminal:
Us being cool (check out the EU flag in the back):

Kalemie to Moba.
After an hour we left for Moba; a flight of 30 minutes. The latter is by far the coolest airport I have ever been. That is, it is the coolest runway I have ever landed on. That is, it is the first time I have actually landed with a plane on a dirt road. By the way, did anybody see the movie Lord of War? The ones who did; remember that episode when Nicolage Cage is forced by Interpol to land his plane on a dirt road; we did the same thing; and we weren’t even forced. Anyhow, the view was absolutely stunning. The dirt road, mountain ranges on three sides around us, and then the flag of the European Union.
That's a terminal:
Arriving Lubumbashi.
Another flight of around 1.5 hours brought us to Lubumbashi. At arrival, an IRC car was literally standing next to the plane to pick us up. At Lubumbashi Airport cars are allowed to drive on the runway. Compared to Bukavu, Lubumbashi is extremely developed. The roads are paved! Even more incredible: there are not many holes in it! And, to top it off, we saw a working traffic light! Yes, really! We heard later that Lubumbashi is only one of two cities in the Congo with a working traffic light; the other is Kinshasa – the country’s capital. Also, mom, the security situation is completely different here. It is safe; no fighting going on around here.

Some completely random notes:
- Yes, it is me saying this: Goma cheese is quite nice cheese.
- Yesterday evening we went for dinner with Mark (IRC's TUUNGANE provincial director) and Claire and we saw goat testicals on the menu. Simon and I didn’t have the balls to order it.
- We went for dinner at the Hellenic club. Apparently there are many of those in the DRC. We ordered Chinese food.
- We didn’t write it the day before yesterday, but last Monday we bought the first 10 phones for the phone project. We wanted to buy 12. The shop owner first told us how amazing his store was and that he doesn't give fake phone chargers to his customers as they stop working after a month. Anyhow, we wanted to buy 12 phones. However, he couldn't find 12 related chargers. We therefore said: We buy ten now and come back next week for the other two. He replied: But I can give you fake chargers. :)

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