I'm at Entebbe Airport. In a few hours my flight - via Istanbul - to Amsterdam leaves. Almost home. The last few days in the Congo I spent in Bukavu and were busy: 1. Preparing my team for another few months in the field (training, simulations, finances, updating material, etc.). These things always take so much more than you think in first instance, 2. Wrapping up the Tuungane 1 evaluation (checking the last piles of paper, inventory of the equipment, etc.), 3. Working with the IRC team on the Tuungane 2's evaluation part (database construction, implementation-of-variations training, etc.), and 4. A lot of meeting people: to write letters of recommendation, to meet people that had just received a baby (one of the Tuungane 1 team members had named their baby "Peter"), obligatory social meetings with high-up-in-the-hierarchy Congolese people (always good to know people, especially in the Congo), etc.
My last evening was very nice: I went for dinner with three people that are dear to me. Vera just posted two pictures on Facebook and I hereby re-post them:
With Vivi (left) I am working closely regarding Tuungane 2. With Julie (right) and Vera (below) I've lived together in IRC's "House 8" for around eight months in 2010; I still have font memories of those months (Julie wrote this brilliant note afterwards).
Let me briefly re-cap the story about that bottle of gin in the picture (the bottle is all for Vera):
> Vera: "Do you have gin & tonic?".
> Waiter: "No. We don't have gin."
> Vera: "Are you sure you don't have gin."
> Waiter: "Yes."
> Vera: "Are you a 100% sure."
> Waiter: "Let me check."
10 minutes later and the waiter is back:
> Waiter: "No we don't have any gin."
> Vera: "Ok. Could you buy it downstairs in the shop."
> Waiter: "I can check but you have to buy the whole bottle then."
> Vera" "Ok."
10 minutes later:
> Waiter: "Yes. There is gin in the shop."
> Vera: "Ok. Here is money please buy it."
10 minutes later and waiter is back with the bottle of gin:
> Vera: "Thanks. A gin & tonic please."
> Waiter: "Sorry. We don't have tonic."
:). You see where I am going. In the end it was gin and maracuja juice for Vera. This experience though is very normal when going out for dinner in Bukavu. For example, it is not uncommon that you order and 15 or 20 minutes later the waiter would come back asking "What did you order again?". This is one of the reasons why the Congo can get under your nails once in a while, but it is also one of the reasons why you love the country.