Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ghost Town

Adam and I have really been enjoying wandering around Aketi lately on daily walks. Sure, it’s a bit cumbersome to have to lock up the house but really, it’s been such an adventure!

I think too we’re trying to make up for all of the french fries we’ve been eating recently! hehe

The sanctuary is about a 2km walk from the house, so that’s been a great stroll. But we’ve also been wandering the side streets and really getting a sense not only for the state of the town now -- but for the grandeur the town must have once possessed!

A new official who just came from Kinshasa stopped by the house the other day. to say hello and introduce himself. He was actually quite nice, and understood when I told him that he was not allowed to visit the sanctuary, and then proceeded to tell us that his family was from Buta. His father, along with his forty six brothers and sisters, used to take them to visit Aketi all the time ... on the train!!

The story he told us filled our eyes with stars -- an Aketi full of bustling restaurants, and electricity, and music concerts and really, a beautiful mental picture.

Walking around Aketi, it’s easy to see where many of these bright-eyed memories come from -- husks of buildings and paintings on the front of restaurants. Some of the houses are, or rather, were so beautiful! Detailed lovely accents, delicate archways and vibrant color combinations.

There are even electricity poles and cables, standing idle all over the town as the goats munch the grass growing from between the old railroad ties.

Many of these houses continue to be used even in their dilapidated states. Three-walled, missing roof tiles, collapsed gateways and overrun gazebos. No one can say that the inhabitants aren’t enterprising!

How different might it have been to live here only 20 years ago? When we wouldn’t have to pay $4 per litre of gas just to charge up our computers! Or where we could have gone to a restaurant maybe once a week for a cold beer (oh cold beer!)

The sadness of war quakes you at moments like these -- as well as the regretful realization that Aketi will probably never return to its former glory -- how would anyone bring it to that level again?

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