After a six hour bus-ride, and a taxi-motor from Rusisi town to the Rwanda-Congo border, I am now in Bukavu (one of the major cities in Eastern Congo). Jean Paul - a friend and colleague - met me at the Congo side of the border and we talked until late in a local bar about the TUUNGANE evaluation, the weeks ahead, and his new girlfriend.
My phone-number for the weeks to come: +243 998 399 330 or (between 5-6pm GMT+2 when I'm in the field and there is no reception): +88 21 643 340 520.
Comfortable ride from Kigali. A new bus, no animals inside the bus, and not too crowded. FYI: Kampala Express, $9 for a ticket, and the busses leave from Nyabugogo market in Kigali.
You're hungry? Go to a "RESTAURENT".
Beautiful views of Lake Kivu (picture taken from the back of a motorbike).
* The motor-ride from Rusisi town to the border was fantastic. To get to the border from Rwanda you go downhill from the mountain and that combined with the fact that it was 5pm, so the sun was going down, gave breathtaking views over Lake Kivu (picture above).
* It's my fifth time I cross the same frontier from Rwanda but only yesterday - for the first time ever - I was forced into the "Controle de Sante"-office. People wanted to check my vaccination documents. Instead of it being a time-consuming "lets-try-to-get-money-out-of-this-white-guy"-experience, it was fun with me ending up sharing a bottle of banana-liqour with the officer on duty. Also arriving at migration proper was good fun because I remembered one of the customs officials. I usually write in my notebook how they look like and their name so that when I meet them again I say their name and immediately move to BFF-status; which is great as it gives much less hassle.
* Because my bag got lost 3 days ago in Uganda this morning it was time for shopping. This is much more fun when you're not under IRC's security umbrella. Also, within an hour I met two people I knew: one is a Congolese IRC staff (all IRC's expats are still out of the country), the other was a driver I once spent time with for fieldwork years ago. It's really nice to be back.
* Shopping in Congo, btw, means that I'm now wearing a wife-beater with "50 Cent" on my chest, I am the proud owner of the ugliest La Coste polo ever made, and my Tommy Hilfiger underwear is now drying outside in the sun (no, I won't be uploading pictures). Oh, and also my trousers are about to pass away (see picture below).
* Just read my email and Macartan and Raul started a bet thinking my bag will never reach me. Raul even put a semester stipend on it. I just called Uganda airport and the back arrived from Turkey earlier this morning, and they'll put the bag on the plane today. It actually seems my plan might work.
* And I have internet at the place where I stay: "Auberge La Soif". And yesterday and this morning I even had running water. Ha!
I really would like my bag (with ao extra trousers) to be back.