Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Passports and Visas and Tickets, Oh My!

One thinks that, when faced with 3 whole months to get ready, that one can take one’s time. This is what I originally thought my second long-term stay in Eastern Africa -- in fact, I left everything until the last minute and ended up leaving a big mess behind.

Of course, you don’t have to deal with the mess until many weeks/months/years later, but it is a bit of an albatross.

Yesterday, I went and got Passport photos -- not for a passport (which I already have) but for my official invitation letter that will be sent to the Congolese Embassy in Washington, DC.

This photo will be on my Congolese visa, and I’m pleased; it’s a good photo. I guess part of me wishes that it could replace my actual passport photo too!

Which, as you can see, is extremely unfortunate. To be fair, I was a lot heavier (and a lot younger).

Today, I mailed my photos and copies of my and Adam’s passports to my employers in the Netherlands -- they’ll be the one who issue me the official letter and get all my shiznit in Congo prepared.

Oh, and my friend Cleve, who facilitated this whole research/sanctuary project and is currently in Aketi, let me know about our accommodations there, which I had been previously uninformed about:

“You will be living in a spacious but crumbling Belgian colonial mansion, built in 1956 and apparently not renovated since Independence. We get our water from a well and cook it. There is a bath tub and a big tub of water with a scoop. And a nonflushing toilet (just pour water down it):; We use a generator for power, and gas is one of our biggest expenses. ”

In my previous adventures through different countries in Africa, I have had ALL sorts of housing. I lived in a tin and wood shack in Kenya with an outhouse out back, and in a nice house in Uganda, and in a shitty house in Goma, Congo. And I’ll tell you -- in Kenya and Goma both I would have sold my soul for a bathtub! So not only does the description make me happy, but I’m sure it’ll reassure Adam and his/my family.

And what a story to tell, crumbling Belgian mansion indeed!

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