DRC - Democratic Republic of Congo

Stephen Quinn
December 5, 2010 share
Artists for Conservation

November 26, 2010 - We all were a bit apprehensive in crossing the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but the MGVP staff Dr. Jaques Iyanya, Molly Feltner and Julie Grist facilitated our crossing. Though the border immigration official demanded a crossing payment, our MGVP friends convinced them otherwise.

The change, from Rwanda to DRC was marked. In Goma, the town we had crossed over into from Rwanda the air was full of dust, the roads badly rutted and poorly maintained, odd handmade wooden bicycles and wooden carts were the vehicles of transportation for produce and people. There were vast desolate lava fields interspersed among settlements and temporary shelters. Mount Nyongongo's last erruption devastated the town, yet the markets we passed through were an amazing kaleidoscope of color and activity. Life goes on.

United Nations troops were very much in evidence in Goma. There powder blue helmets and barrets were sprinkled among the crowds. UN peace keeping vehicles rolled through the streets regularly and much activity centered around a UN compound near an airport we passed. Small aircraft , marked with UN insignias, passed overhead regularly. It was comforting to see the UN presence. 

Hotel Nyira, our destination for the night, was rather dark and damp but OK. Our rooms were down long dark corridors but we did have hot water! At nightfall it became a throbbing disco and all night the music and crowds kept us awake. Power was cut off from our part of the hotel at 11PM.  For dinner we when to a local bar for pizza and beer. Walking through the town was an experience. It was a bit like what you would have imagined the wild western US was like. The bar had a unique "No guns allowed" sign at entrance. Lots of interesting persons at the surrounding tables.  It was a remote frontier city but with the beginnings, however, of Internet access and cell phone service as I was able to send off a few last messages on my blackberry.

 

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