Update from Kinshasa

On the banks of the Congo River just downstream from Kinshasa and Brazzaville.
On the banks of the Congo River just downstream from Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

I didn't post last week, but I have a good excuse. A group of terrific science writers who produce the prolific and fascinating blog, The Last Word On Nothing, allowed me to write a guest post for them about my struggles with language. It's online today.

If you have a few moments, I urge you to leaf through the other posts. For me, it's an excellent window into the thinking minds of top writers. So often, the clichéd “cutting room” floor of a writer's office is littered with superb insights, funny anecdotes and good old-fashioned opinions that just didn't make it into the latest news story or feature. At LWON (as it's known), these writers have given themselves an outlet to share their curiosity and motivations.

Personal Update

Right now, Anne-Claire and I are still in Kinshasa. Last Friday, we had packed up our apartment, pared down what we would need for the foreseeable future to the 20-kg allowance for humanitarian flights, and locked up the rest of our luggage for storage, in preparation for an 8 a.m. flight to Lodja. Five minutes before our schedule departure, they cancelled the flight because Lodja's runway was too wet for us to land. (Why they had to wait for us to go through all of the formalities to check whether, surprise, surprise, the dirt landing strip in the middle of the Congolese rainforest during rainy season is beyond me, but that fact seemed to have flummoxed the folks working for the flight's operating company) So we are here at least through this Friday, when we'll rise at 4 o'clock in the morning to go through the same process again, hopefully with a different result. What did Einstein say about insanity?

Anne-Claire and I are excited to get out to our post, but Kinshasa has been surprisingly nice. We've met some terrific people and seen a bit of the city. We walk or run on 1.7-mile loop through an embassy neighborhood and by the river just about every day. And we're certainly not wanting for food – there's a woman at the office who makes huge plates of greens, beans, plantains, fish or chicken, and fufu (sort of like tuwo in Niger – here it's a sticky paste-mash of corn, millet, riz and cassava) for lunch. And the restaurants are on par in quality, variety and price with Europe or the U.S.

I hope to post within the next week with a more substantive update of where we're at. For the time being, I'm working on a little slide show of some pictures and video I shot when we went to visit the bonobo refuge a few weeks ago. If the Internet cooperates, I'll post it tomorrow.