World through my eyes

It rained during the night. My laundry was returned at breakfast so I was able to pack. Breakfast was the standard: bread, butter, jam, chocolate drink (Nescafe), bottled water and two fried eggs. Bruno joined us for breakfast. I bad farewell to the others at 8:45 and we took off in a BMW for the airport. Misha had a flight at 9:00pm that evening, and Monique and Christine are here for another week. They were going to visit Bonobo to see the friendly monkeys there.
The traffic was (for Kinshasa) pretty light and we arrived at the airport at 9:30am, so depite some mud and water from last night’s rain made good progress.

Figure 26: muddy road on way to Kinshasa
As we approached the airport the number of cell phone towers increased. It is very evident that they have by-passed the use of wired phones, I saw only one during my trip.

Figure 27: Cell phone towers close to Kinshasa airport
We parked in the shaded parking lot and were met by someone assigned to assist me through the various airport procedures. First I had to get $80US from an ATM machine to pay the airport tax, then we had to pay it and take a receipt which I needed to present as we boarded. Next our bags had to be checked to make sure we were not exporting something illicit. Then queue for the South African deskthat was to open 3 hours before the flight at 10:45. Then check we had tickets, and get out RDC visa valildated, get the ticket. Then to the check in for bags. I locked my case and pray I will get it back in Johannesburg. Then to go through the security screening. I finished my water before going through. Despite mistakenly leaving the cell phone tower coax cable in my bag, there were no problems, but they did pat us down before and after the x-ray machine. Then into the waiting lounge which had no A/C. I visited a folk curio shop to get an idea of prices and purchased a little box as a memento with my remaining dollars. At boarding time we handed over our receipts for the airport tax, went through a another check of the passports and tickets, and a pat down, and boarded the bus. A the plane there was one last check of the, passports and tickets and we could board inking about in all the time in Kinshasa apart from our party and in the airports I probably saw less than 5 white people. There were about 10 on our flight out.
Figure 28: Parking lot with shading at Kinshasa airport.
The flight was cold and I put on my anorak to keep warm. I arrived in Johannesburg La Tombo airport on time. After passing through immigration and picking up my bag with no hitch, I found my ride behind the usual crowd of waiting people. He was a very friendly white S. African single parent, not very interested in rugby but an interesting life story. The temperature outside was 73F. The freeway was empty, the road was excellent, and we arrived at the hotel after about a 45minute drive. The Royal Elephant hotel in Pretoria is a luxurious place with spacious bedrooms and bathrooms, king size beds, free WiFi, and breakfast included, A/C, hot & cold running water, a coffee/tea maker in the room. I am out of deepest Africa. Despite all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there once I re-adjusted expectations. Here, the electric plugs are the old British large 3 round pin style. This was the one style my adapter does not cover. The hotel lent me an adapter so all is well.


Comments on: "Sunday 18th Sep: Leaving Kinshasa" (1)

  1. Phillip Whittick commented about the Kinshasa school:

    Hi Les,
    You don’t mention any language problems – was your audience
    English-speaking after all?
    I was interested to read of your impressions of Kinshasa.

    My response was:
    Good point. The audience was French speaking, most had a smattering of English, but nowhere enough for not needing translation. We started out with the slides in French translated by Guillaume Cessiuex) and me talking in English followed by a translator translating what I said. This slowed things up which was probably good to assist in keeping up. There was a slight problem in that as I read the slides in French now and again I was not sure what I had meant to say. Also the student wanted what was written in French recited by the tranlsator together with my comments in French. This was agreed to. By the fourth lecture we left the slides in English which made my life easier and everything was translated. I believe this actually worked very well. Going slow not only helped keeping up, it also meant I had to prepare and present less material. So we skipped a few presentation on Mobile computing & cell phones. I also noticed by the end of the week I had plucked up enough courage to hold crude conversations in French

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