From Pluto’s Gate to Paradise

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.

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Steaming Mount Nyiragongo looms over Goma.
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The view of Lake Kivu’s eastern shore
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Unloading the UN plane that took us from Goma via Kindu.
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A view of the transition zone from forest to savanna.
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Anne-Claire in front of the plane in Lodja. We were the only two passengers on the second leg from Kindu.
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3 thoughts on “From Pluto’s Gate to Paradise”

  1. Congratulations, Anne-Claire and John, on your successful and safe journey to your workplace and home away from home. Sounds more moderate than Niger. Looking forward to hearing – and seeing – similarities and contrasts. Anne-Claire, I hope your assignment in Lodja is everything you want it to be. You and John are blessed to be there and Lodja is blessed that you are there. Love. Dad

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  2. Hi, I traveled to Lodja and Tshumbe in January and stayed with Bishop Djomo. I just finished a short documentary about it. Here is a link to the Trailer: https://vimeo.com/78339918

    The full film won’t be online for a while, since I am sending it around to film festivals.

    Give my best to Jim Hazen, if he is still with CRS in Lodja.

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