Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gird Your Loins

When I'm traveling with someone else, I'm usually giggly and flit. One of my favorite activities is the airplane can-can, humming merrily and carefree as I kick my short legs in the confined space.

This trip feels markedly different, as I gird myself, bracing for whatever may come along. Adam was upset that he would be unable to protect me on this trip, and I had to remind him that I lived in Uganda and Congo before, completely on my own, and do have, deep down, a stubbornness that refuses to submit to Africa-based shennaniganry.

I saw 127 Hours by accident last week (I went to the movies when I got locked out of my house) and I empathized a lot with the brazen mentality of assuming that everything is going to be okay. It's not a BAD assumption... it keeps you from wasting valuable time worrying, but at the same time, it's not actually TRUE.

I didn't want to let Adam know in the airport this afternoon how worried I was. Here we'd been, doing goodbyes on the presumption of "everything will be okay" when he got a call from ABC, relaying a semi-frantic message from our mutual friend in Kinshasa who had grave security concerns after this last week's coup attempt. Though the BBC reported it as a failed attempt with six deaths and several subsequent detentions, it was actually more than 100 people rushing the presidential palace. It speaks volumes for the current climate in DRC, and while the State Department is just recommending vigilance, people are nervous. My friend in Kinshasa has been told to "ready her 'go bag'". I don't think I need to explain further.

It was a bad start to the trip. All the same, I reviewed my potential options and am even now bracing myself for whatever comes. If something bad goes down within the next 24 hours, my flight will almost certainly not take off in Douala (Cameroon). I would almost certainly then fly to Brazzaville in the OTHER Congo and boat over across the Congo River into Kinshasa once things calmed down. I've got a friend in Brazzaville now, and I could probably even stop over at Tchimpounga (a chimp sanctuary) in Pointe Noire.

And if whatever might happen takes longer, during my next two weeks in Kinshasa, I will be with an American friend who works with the State Department. I've got a competent and good network in country, and good/powerful contacts out of country.

I love traveling. I would never sacrifice it. And yet right now, as I can feel the tension in myself escalating... readying for whatever comes next... I miss the airplane can-can.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Somewhere between NYC and Montreal


astrid365 said...

Some of my frantic may have been influenza related, but now as my peeps in Kin multiply, I pay closer and closer attention to the news. Stay safe, keep your phone numbers handy, your phone charged and full of minutes, your Swiss army knife handy (get it? Handy!) and do the can can when you land land. And really- things always do work out. Even when things go south quickly, there's always a way out.

amy said...

I wish you luck in getting there, and safe travels. And awesome sciencey times.

P.S. It made me happy to see a new blog post from you in my Google reader... :)