Monday, January 30, 2006

Saturday's Adventure

Well, I finally have something worth blogging about! Saturday we took an all day excursion to a place called Papa Gabriel’s. This story will best be told with photos, so scroll through to read of my adventures and see both the beauty and beastliness of life in Congo.

The drive was a great chance to see some of the countryside. That white patch in this picture is a graveyard.

After maybe 45 minutes of driving we got to this dirt path. It was a bumpy ride!

We finally arrived at Papa Gabriel's and I knew from the first view that this was gonna be great! We set up our stuff in that little hut, which was perfect for getting some shade and eating our picnic.

Looks like paradise! That's because you can't see the blood running down my legs from the sand flies (minor exaggeration).

I'm sure this must break every travel health safety guideline in the book, but it was great fun! You jump in at one spot and the swift current takes you around the bend, and you jump in and do it again! I guess no one's ever gotten sick, but I can't help but think of this place as Papa Giarrdhia's :o)

We thought it would be a good idea to take a photo of all of us jumping off the bridge. Yeah, we broke the bridge. Oops!

As we were examining the broken bridge, one of it's residents dropped down to pay us a visit. This is the biggest spider I've ever seen in the wild. The body was maybe the size of my pinky finger. There was mass chaos, the spider dropped into the water, and we decided we were done with swimming.

By the time we left, covered in sand fly bites, the sun was casting a beautiful hue over the rain forest.

Chantal fully enjoyed her dad's driving. I said, "This is better than Disneyland!" Getting out of Papa Gabriel's proved to be one of the biggest adventures of the day.

Getting down this trail is apparently much easier than getting up it! We spent maybe 20 minutes scavenging for sticks and branches to lay in the ruts, hoping to get a bit of traction.

Happy to have made it up the hill, we were perhaps a bit too hasty and got ourselves in a deep rut on the side of the path. I got to fully experience my future survey vehicle on this outing!

Thankfully, right as the sun was slipping behind the hills, the wench and the digging successfully freed us and we were on on way home.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

In loving memory of Miss Moppet, my good sistah's dear kitty.

Today as part of our orientation we spent some time taping the names of towns onto a map of Congo. We eventually had all the languages labeled too. With the help of a Congolese colleague, we already discovered some changes that need to be made to our catalogue of languages. Survey has practically begun!

The Congo River forms a natural border between Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Across the river is Kinshasa, the capital of DRC. I was told that Brazzaville and Kinshasa are the two closest capitals in the world, although they're still a 30 minute boatride apart.

Here are some of my co-workers taking in the view of the Congo River.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hi! I'm in Congo and I'm all sweaty, but it's still me. This was maybe gonna be my kitten, but I think he got another home and I don't think now's the best time for adopting animals since I'll be travelling a lot in the next month.

I'm in Africa!

OK, so I know all my faithful readers have been waiting with baited breath for this moment to arrive, so it is with pleasure that I announce that I'm in the Congo and I'm still going to be blogging! I've been here for about 4 days now and I really like it. It's hot and very humid, so when you try to picture me here, just douse me in water and friz up my hair and that will be a pretty accurate image. OK, it's not that bad, but this isn't the January I'm used to!

Overall, I'd say this place is pretty much what I was expecting. Whenever I travel that seems to be the case: I'll have an idea in my head but figure that it's probably inaccurate, but then it turns out to be basically what I'd imagined it to be. If any of you have been to Central America, it reminds me a lot of that--tropical, hot, poor yet modernizing.

My most African experience yet was going to a big market. Unfortunately I can't really take pictures there, but it was interesting and fun. Next time I go I'll make some notes and try to describe it for you. I'm just getting used to being here and doing some orientation--finding out where to buy things, learning how to prepare food safely, trying to keep myself hydrated--so I haven't really begun to experience the culture. But you can count on me to keep you posted if I eat any lizard brains or have any other such adventures.

Everyone can rest assured I'm still eating well, though I doubt anyone will ever top Jean-Pierre's cooking in Switzerland! Last night I ate the yummiest mangos and avocados of my life. The meal in the photo was at another member's house. It's corn, chicken with this grassy vegetable, rice, and veggies. It was delish.

I look down on the center courtyard from my appartment. Several families have kids who have been enjoying their little pool. If it gets any hotter, I'm diving in!

Here's a view of some of the city of Brazzaville.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I'm sitting at my gate waiting to leave Portland to begin my grand adventure. Just wanted to share a quote with you. In the Chronicles of Narnia the children ask of Asland the lion, "Is he safe?" and they were answered, "No, but he's good." Those of you who serve Jesus know that CS Lewis was talking about Him. My life isn't "safe" but Jesus makes it all good!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Adventures Truly Begin

No I have not dropped off the face of the planet. Nor have I given up my blog. Never fear! It's just that one does not do much blogging when one is preparing to move to the Congo. Or so it seems.

On Thursday the 19th I will fly from Portland to Atlanta, Atlanta to Paris, and Paris to Brazzaville where I will finally begin my assignment with Wycliffe as a language surveyor. Yippee!

I'm sure there is some interesting blogging to come...So stay with me!