Sunday, January 4, 2009


We're upgrading the combies gradually, from Volkwagon busses to Mercedes vans. And they are supposed to be painted in blue and yellow, the colors of the Congolese flag. But some things never change -- the broken suspension so that the van lists either to the left or the right, the conductor(s) hanging out the open side door as the combie lurches along at 20 or 25 mph, and the people crowded in, sitting on tiny wooden benches. This one held about 30 people. Can't remember where this road is, but next P-Day I'm going to go drive on it again because there's no pot-holes!!!
I used to joke when we lived in San Francisco and Los Angeles that sewer rats and California commuters can find their way around or through anything. That may be true here as well. Here's a shortcut we can take on the way to the chapel -- along a stream of really yucky water, the banks lined by garbage, bumping along a dirt road. I can't wait to get back and blast along at 75 mph on an Interstate highway!!

There's no such thing as mortgages here in the Congo. So buildings are built, or added onto, as cash flow permits. Here's a one story building in the process of getting its second story added. I would imagine that the first story was built a number of years ago. And judging by the height of the rebar, it looks like maybe the third story will go on as well. Virtually all the construction here is cinder block. There are a couple of modern buildings going up we have seen done with concrete -- cement mixer trucks, pumpers, etc. But mostly it is a "by hand" construction -- make the cinder blocks by hand, haul them up on a manual pulley system, lay them by hand, etc. Reminds us of Mexico 20 or 30 years ago.

Well, what else can we say. It's Congolese driving -- four lanes on a two lane street. Note that the car in front of us and we are half-on, half-off the road onto the sandy shoulder. The space between all the "lanes" is about 12 inches -- really quite generous by Congolese standards. You just learn to deal with it.

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