After a month and a half, and 5 cancelled flights due to plane maintenance and a wet, muddy runway, Anne-Claire and I finally arrived in Lodja. The area is stunning, and Lodja itself is really a collection of beautiful, sprawling, idyllic, dusty towns strung out around a town center, collectively home to about 100,000 people.
The area straddles the rainforest to the north and the savannah to the south, and we’re in the midst of rainy season, so it’s very green here. Coconut, banana and mango trees are everywhere you look, and pineapples are so abundant they often rot and cost about $.50 USD. The people seem laid back and friendly, the weather’s hot but not unbearable, and after the security restrictions we were under in Goma and Kinshasa, it’s wonderful to be able to walk around unimpeded.
I’m sending just a few pictures for now. I’ll write an update soon after we settle in a bit more. Just a word about our time in the east – Lake Kivu’s spectacular, but if the half dozen or so rebel/bandit groups hanging out in the hills on the outskirts weren’t enough, you’ve got this behemoth that erupts every 10 years or so (most recently in 2002), burns houses and kills people, and leaves a wall of hardened lava making the already-terrible roads all but impassable. Add to that a lake that belches deadly doses of methane and incubates cholera, and thin mile-high air that makes the bad pollution worse, and you’ve got a real-life Pluto’s Gate.