Friday, June 5, 2015

Kalemie! June 2nd-5th 2015

June 2, 2015

We made it! We left the hotel in Kigali this morning at 2am to make our 3am bus, we ALMOST didn’t make it because our driver, whom we had been using all week, decided he
wanted to charge us $30 USD to take us to the bus station (which normally runs about 4,000 RWD/$5.50. I was LIVID, tired and, immediately told him that we were thankful for his services but no thank you- mind you, we have 6 bags!!! So we had to unload the car, find another taxi at that hour and well, it was a little stressful, but we managed and we made it! Then, our bus driver drove like a bat out of hell, we made it to the border before 7am :-0 (we were intended to arrive at 9am….lol). The roads to the border from Kigali gave a whole new meaning to the word ‘windy’ Rocco even got a little car sick, Ethan and I had at one point a hand full of well…you know (sick/sad face). The trusted ‘Theo’ picked us up from the border and we started making our way across the Rwanda/DRC border. This is ALWAYS fun- not. We have to first ‘exit’ Rwanda, stand in line, get stamped etc…then cross into DRC (literally walk over a bridge) and get stamped in; however, they see Mzungus and want to speak with us (i.e. give us a hard time). So now we are in the Chiefs office discussing our project, TRP, how many times we have been in DRC etc…Rocco is fast asleep, the guy clearly wants us to pay him money and we are not budging so we wait, we listen and he goes on and on and on….until finally, he pulls out a book and reads us a ‘new law’ about tourist visas and humanitarian work etc… it was all BS and quite frustrating because in the end we are just here to work- to help and yet we are always dealing with these obstacles. Anyway, ultimately after a good hour, we get back into Theo’s car and go about a block before we stop, unload and switch cars (Theo is Rwandan, he organized a Congolese driver for us). This guy is worse than the bus driver! And the roads in Congo are ten times worse than those in Rwanda so it was like a full blown roller-coaster (Rocco enjoyed it…ugh, hands over eyes).

We reached Uviera, met with Jean Didier (we all worked together in Moba years back, when he worked for GTZ, he is now running his own NGO based here in Uvira and welcomed us to his house). It was almost noon, we dropped our bags and made our way to CARITAS (an Intl NGO) to meet with Yeves father to deliver the package he sent (Yeves is Congolese and works at the DRC Embassy in Washington DC…).  Once we met ‘Baba’ he insisted we visit his house, so we walk and walk until we finally make it to his house, meet his wife and entire family, they invite us in and for sodas etc… By this time Malela is arriving from buying our Boat tickets (boat leaves tomorrow morning!) and we are all famished. We try to hurry our much-appreciated invitation- and leave for the restaurant which is near UNHCR.

Once we are here I am eager to order as I know how long it takes to order ANYTHING in Congo, first they have to see if they have it, then they have to prepare it and then and then and then lol….lunch took about an hour and a half :-/ But it was delicious (or were we just starving!?) J

Returning to the compound, Malela and I head to the DMC to register as we know it will be an issue at the port tomorrow, now we are faced with another man trying to swindle us for $40 USD so sad….so frustrating and at this point we are feeling quite deflated. We make it through after more waiting, listening, making copies of this and copies of that blah blah- and finally, we are done. It’s 7:47pm here now, we have bathed, eaten and snoring is prominent throughout the compound  ;). Lights out, I will continue this tomorrow as we will be on the ‘super bus’ for 22-24 hours and most likely I will not have access to internet for another couple of days.

More pics and fun adventures a wait!
Lala salama-k

June 4, 2015

It’s now 9:30am local time; I am writing this from the boat, ‘Super Bus’ we didn’t leave Uvira yesterday until 3pm!!!! We were up at 6am, left the house at 7am to get there early as the boat was ‘supposed to leave’ at 10am….lol, it was a very long and extremely HOT day. Rocco had quite the heat rash going, Ethan and I were literally dripping and some how, Malela, ‘kaka’ was able to sleep on the blue chairs! Finally we set off and said ‘tutaoanana’ to Uvira and finally we were able to order food, something cold to drink and enjoy some fresh air from the roof deck of the boat; it ended nicely.  Once we ate we were all so tired so, after a short visit we all took our prospective shower/baths and fell asleep! Rocco watched his ‘Jungle Book’ (thank you grandma Denise!!!!), and well, so did we lol, We didn’t wake again till 11pm. Up for a few minutes to have a little snack then down again until almost 8:30am! We got up, dressed and got kaka, went to have our breakfast of champions (same as lunch/dinner yesterday: beans and rice~), kaka and Ethan had an egg omelet (fresh as it gets’ chickens are on board!).  We then went up stairs where Rocco introduced himself to the 3 captains and even got to drive the boat.  Then we discussed the dangers of hippos and crocodiles. It’s been quite the morning ;)
We are approximately 2-2 ½ hours from the Kalemie port, we’ve passed Brundi and, Tanzania is visibly to our left (east; we are heading south on lake Tanganyika, Congo to the right/west). Once we arrive in Kalemie, an OCHA  car will pick us up so that we don’t have to deal with the border patrol….in Uvira it was another pain trying to get stamped and explaining how when where why… about our trip, ourselves etc. In the end, there is always an excuse of why we must pay, how much is ‘needed’ which always ends bad because I won’t give in, nor will kaka; clearly is getting more and more upset with ‘his people’ because he knows we are here to help, to assist and all we face is people asking for more and more- most of the time the high paid officials; it’s annoying.

We’ve met a lot of nice people here on the Super bus…a few sisters of the Catholic Church, a pastor who runs an orphanage in Goma (north of Uvira) and various others who have come to adore Rocco- he is quite the social butterfly. J

Today is going to be a busy day. Once we get to Kalemie, we will drop off our baggage at Malela’s house, meet with Guy Marie (OCHA), Mr. Hollo at UNHCR, hopefully SFCCG and get their respective programs for next week. We must plan according to the existing programs of NGO/IDP camp visits. We do not have a car so transportation will rely on those already going and or, us paying fuel and a driver to take us. Most of the time UNHCR or an OP (operating partner) will assist us if they have someone avail (due to security etc) but we are not yet sure of the agendas…If we can, we would like to visit the camp farthest away and make our way back to Kalemie. Thankfully, I packed a tent and we have two sleeping bags should we need to stay in the camp(s) overnight. They are quite far as I’ve mentioned. Well I will sign off for now, don’t want to run the battery down. I’m hopeful that I will be able to connect to the Internet at some point today and upload these last two blogs and add pics.

June 5, 2015

It’ s 9:47am, we are in Kalemie, we arrived at the port just after noon yesterday after the long last 30-45 min of a heavily rocking boat :-/ Ethan tried to film us pulling into the port but he was constantly told to stop…pretty frustrating. Once we got all of our bags and ourselves off the boat we had to clear customs (literally outside the dock), we got through opening every single one of our bags and finally, loaded the car (Guy Marie sent his driver for us- very VERY kind of him). Then we make our way to the DGM along with a DGM official (yes, he asked for a ride lol). The DGM stands for the “Director General of Migration”. This is where the problems started- yet again. We are all in this tiny little office, Ethan, Rocco, Malela and me talking about when, how, how many times, where, what etc…same same, but this time they say that the director has stepped out and we will have to leave our passports until he comes back, sees us face to face and talks with us. NOPE! Not happening, so, Ethan, Malela and Rocco leave with the luggage and the driver takes them to drop everything off and get/call Guy Marie (OCHA) so that we can sort this out. I stay with the passports and the two women that were originally ‘helping’ us quickly become friendly with me (asking me for a job etc…pretty typical). Within about 45 minutes the lady come out with all of our passports and tells me everything is ok, and that I can go. So I leave the gates, buy some air time to call Malela to let him know, he informs me that Guy Marie made a call and that he is on his way to pick me up. He’s there within minutes. We are invited to stay at Guy Marie and Mama Theresa’s home (they have a little apartment above their house- super accommodating). So we settle, Malela leaves to go home, we bathe and Ethan starts organizing footage, Rocco is playing with the kids and I start helping mama Theresa prepare dinner (fish, beans, rice and ‘sauce’). We eat and are ready for bed by 8pm!!! Falling asleep to the jungle book, within the hour a huge LOUD party starts across the street (we are situated above the main road…), this went on till well after 2am- yep, we are still tired :-p

Internet still isn’t working, we managed to get a modem SIM but the modem is only registered for a PC, not a Mac so we will have to figure that out later today… Mr. Hollo of UNHCR is out of the office till Monday, we will go to meet with Guy Marie at OCHA here in the next hour (we had a major ant problem this morning that has altered our plans a bit…), then head to SFCG (Search for Common Ground) to meet with the director there.
Last night we briefly spoke with Guy Marie and he mentioned in passing that in Nyunzu there is still a really big problem and it is not safe to travel there, so we will again, have to alter our IDP visit plans…Ok, I will write more later!
Bye for now- from beautiful Kalemie are not loading properly. I will try to publish this text and revert photos to THE REEL PROJECT's Facebook :-/

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Krista sorry you had to go through all the BS, sounds like it all worked out in the end though! Glad Rocco is having Fun and adjusting well. Lubttu, I keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers