I've been particularly lucky to have had my friend H here, who, before she left for the States, did the wonderfully conscientious thing of telling her friends that I could use entertaining.
Two such people have done just that, inviting me out to things more regularly than I can even sustain. One works for USAID and the other for the UN, and we spent Wednesday night salsa dancing until the wee hours.
I find the Kinshasa-based obsession with salsa to be sort of funny and yet appropriate. During my time in north Congo, nothing got people up and active better than a little piece of dance music. Contemporary music, let alone international music like salsa, didn't have much impact aside from the very little played on the radio, but most native Congolese music is distinguishable by its ass-shaking beat.
The grooves of salsa end up melding so well here as a result. The fluid undulation of the spine and the legato gyration of the meaty female Congolese derrieres is really something to behold -- we went to two DIFFERENT salsa clubs on Wednesday. The first was just starting out, but intentionally luxurious and classy. The second was more established, and the owner, a dapper fellow with relaxed long hair smoothed back, had hired a feisty and short dancer named Safi to dance with various patrons. Wow, could she dance, and it was electric in the wee hours of the morning to watch her, along with the owner and several other very professional-seeming dancers in this cyclical tango, hips swaying, their hands clapping above their heads at beats within the music.
The nightlife of Kinshasa for the expat is somewhat limited, so since Wednesday I've run into the same collections of people several more times.
I was among a large collection of expats today at the Grand Hotel, paying $15 for the honor of swimming in a clean and fancy pool next to the President's residence. No insurrection happened today, thankfully, but I did also pay $15 for a rather tasty club sandwich. Not something I can afford to do regularly (nor would I want to) but it was a nice excursion out.
It continues to feel like I am on holiday. The undertone of peril isn't even taken seriously. Tomorrow I am taking one of the US Embassy evacuation boats out onto the Congo River for a picnic with friends. I'm legitimately excited to get out of the city and see something new, and maybe swim in the Congo River! Crocodiles be damned!
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Location:Corktree US Embassy Housing Compound