Friday Jan 12
All Australian people have now left the house. On their way to their Koala-full country or some other exotic location via Johannesburg. I am still in Kinshasa. There was a power cut a while ago. The air con stopped and the moist heat took over. Spooks, one of the best ever television dramas was on BBC Prime just now. Earlier today I pushed the limits of the Congolese banking system by trying to make a withdrawal from my account after closing time. I have to admit that my attempt was not too successful. They did not give me any money. One of the biggest and poshest hotels here – the Grand did not save my day either. After reading Michaela Wrong’s book “In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz” I hoped that this famous all-powerful institution might concede to my pleading for giving me cash from my debit card. But apparently they have some new regulations. The only way they could have made this huge exception was if I booked a room for the night there. Which in itself would have drained my bank account beyond recognition so I decided it’s not worth it. So, now virtually cash-less, I will have to try and dodge my way tomorrow morning through check-in for my flight to Nairobi. Let’s hope the people there will be somewhat relaxed regarding all the excess luggage that, I am afraid, I will be dragging through the airport…
Even earlier today I did something I have never done before. I shipped almost 7 kg of ape shit by DHL (weight includes the packaging). There was a bit of a rush and panic, when the shippers discovered that the special containers for the samples I had collected over the past few months at Kokolopori, were locked away in a storage facility, and the person who had the key was not really there. Things got sorted in the end though, and after some 2 hours in the nice DHL bureau in central Kinshasa, the precious stuff was on its way to the US of A.
All logistical hassles aside, Kinshasa is a lovely town these days. Back in September when I passed through, the tension was palpable. The presidential election were a huge unknown then. Now, after the landmark vote is over in a very mature and peaceful way, Kinshasa is different. Not anything really you can put your finger on, but the air has definitely cleared. The people are somewhat more relaxed. It just feels like a normal place where people go on about their lives without having to worry about the threat of violence engulfing their lives once again. It’s a pleasure to be in Kinshasa and seeing how things are nicely coming back together for the people who against all odds, have somehow managed to pull through all the horrible things that have went on here in this huge, huge city and country.