Travels in dangerous places
Favorite thing: You must go to a footbal match!!
Fondest memory: First impressions of Kinshasa - Flying over the DRC, the first impression is one of immensity.
We flew first to Lubumbashi, in the southeast corner, adjacent to the Zambian border. Lubumbashi appeared at a quick glance to be a medium sized regional centre, though I am told the population is over 2 million.
Flying into Kinshasa itself, the first sight is of a large silver river snaking in big sweeping “s”’ swipes. Is this the mighty Congo River? Turning to land it becomes apparent that this is only a tributary flowing into the Congo which looks like the sea, with smallish islands/inlets scattered around its edge.
The over-riding “aura” of the building is of business being re-generated. New business people are flowing in; opportunities are being assessed, and there is an energy of things about to happen. Business people seemed to be from all corners of the world; there is an unmistakeable gallic feel to the DRC; it feels much more part of Francophone Africa, rather than its Belgian roots, though Sabena Air is obviously the major carrier, and in fact owned the hotel we stayed at.
The journey in from the airport took us through a heaving mass of humanity, vast open-air markets, flooded with thousands of people.
Everything seemingly has value, with active markets in old car parts and virtually everything else. Selling mostly food – vegetables in the main – the general populace appeared poor, though reasonably dressed and seemingly well nourished. The women in particular looking very elegant in their traditional, colourful Congolese dresses, a cross between a sari and a western-style dress.
The vehicles are generally very old, in poor condition, with an excellent supply of 30 year-old VW microbuses!! The condition of the roads matched the dereliction of the vehicles.
The overall impression of Kinshasa is of a city gone to seed; not irreparably so, but certainly in need of significant rehabilitation and a coat of paint.
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Fondest memory: for my 1st night in kinshasa,I slept at the memling hotel;I was offered a free drink from the reception;I went to drink it at the bar,and who arrived? the complete female staff of SABENA who worked in my flight,but this time,they had little skirts and sandals !!!I did not bother them,because as you know I am a very quiet and respectful boy with the girls...no?
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