It’s been a good weekend. I was worn down by Friday afternoon and now, Sunday evening, I’m pretty well recharged. I’ve had some extra credit slips in my wallet for months now to buy dinner on a Friday night at the UN social club but by the time I get home Friday evening I’m too tired to leave again. One of these days I’ll make it and hopefully they’ll still be serving food.
At Friday’s staff meal we again discussed the health risks of eating monkeys and other bush meat. For most Congolese folks, these are great delicacies. It was argued that wild populations can’t possibly be at risk because monkeys can still be seen in the trees just outside town at dawn. Apparently recently there have been more restrictions on bush meat which means it will be even more expensive and a little hidden in the market. Good thing I am not shopping for it, ever. We also talked about what havoc a monkey would cause in our homes if we kept one as a pet. When I left the office a man was walking down the street with a chimpanzee. That ape was so adorable I can’t imagine anyone wanting to cook it.
Saturday I had a good list of errands to run. I took the car to try to buy gas but that didn’t work out. There were crowds at one of the few gas stations and then it closed suddenly and everyone took off. Apparently word has gotten out that the next fuel barge to come upriver is still sitting in Kinshasa and we can expect shortages. This means that fuel resellers are stocking up so they can stay in business and also enjoy high prices. The resellers have roadside shanties with shelves of gasoline in plastic bottles. Unfortunately the gas is sometimes diluted or dirty and it can do damage to a motor.
Gas stations aren’t open in the afternoon Saturday or at all on Sunday. I was able to finish my errands but I couldn’t go see some friends out on the fringe of town. My life here has taught me how to roll with the punches. I went to the store for baking powder and butter. No butter, but there was baking powder - so that’s a success. I mixed up some pancake mix in an old powdered milk tin and put it in the freezer to keep the pests from eating it before I can. With that I made a batch of mouthwatering pancakes, so good they didn’t even need butter.
I went to the one truly functional airline to inquire about prices and days for flights. There was another crowd out front waiting for cargo. Inside there were about five women sitting behind the counter. They debated some on the prices but I got a list and now I know the flights are Tuesday and Friday, another success.
I went to the market for a few things and it had just rained a bit. Lately it’s raining some almost every day. I was in sandals and trying to keep a steady footing on the rough terrain to prevent myself from landing sideways in the slop. For the first eight months or so when I came the government was renovating the market. Unfortunately they did very little at all and it’s still pretty much a wreck. Even with all of its hazards, it’s good to go to the market.
I had a visit from a friend in the afternoon and I had a couple of great telephone calls via Skype with friends in the evening. It’s a blessing to be able to remain close with such good friends who are so far away.
Today I attended the opening of a new Nazarene Church that’s just a stone’s throw from my apartment. It’s nice to know that there’s a place I can go even when the weather makes the roads difficult. On the walk home I noticed that about half the journey is covered by overhangs which is a bonus. I was asked to give a Bible lesson and I spoke from the All Saints Day lectionary passages. The theme was humility at the heart of holiness. I’m not sure it was terribly well understood through the translation from French to Kiswahili, but I know that I learned a few humbling truths that I’ll carry into another week.