A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011

Toothpaste Flower

overcast 25 °C

I have been brushing my teeth over the same rock since September, carefully chosen to avoid the vegetable patch and grass that our partner organisation is rather optimistically trying to grow, and I have returned from leave to find a giant white toothpaste flower growing next to the rock.....who knew......

I am back in Equateur, and if I was thinking about all my friends and relatives Christmassing in the snow, wrapped up in hats and coats, thinking how much I miss winter, I am certainly not now. Its dry season, and for the first time since I have come to Africa there has been an actual change of season as I would define it.......i.e. its FREEZING. And I don’t just mean there is a chill in the air; during the day it is much like a summer holiday in the Mediterranean, and at night it’s like September in Moscow – ok maybe that’s a bit far but it’s cold enough to sleep in socks and a jumper. I am in Dongo, within an hour’s flight of the Equateur, but I am coughing, sniffling and sneezing like a little girl.

On my way here I stopped in Bobito, a fairly large town by North Equateur standards, where I bought a 50CDF bag of peanuts from a boy of about 12 years old. Being naive and still in holiday mode I asked him if he was in school; he looked at me as if I had just asked him if he had ever flown a plane and his older brother behind him scoffed ‘Ecole? Lui?’, and I walked back to the car while every under 15 in the market laughed at the ‘mundele’ and her hilarious joke about school.......ho hum, I dare to dream.........

I spent Christmas, New Year and, incidentally, my birthday in Kinshasa. On Christmas Day morning [preparation for these kinds of things has never been my strength] I left a supermarket with bags full of exciting things I can only dream of in Equateur [cheese, cake, wine] in preparation for the evening’s festivities. There was an entire family sat on the pavement under a tree by my car, in complete tatters just watching the vast number of people, who were also not prepared in advance, come and go through the big glass entrance. They weren’t begging or selling anything, they were just watching the world go by with vague interest. It was soul-destroying – this is their Christmas Day?! Ok so Christmas here is really just about all the family getting together in the evening to eat and drink together and parents buy presents for the younger children [and it feels a lot more genuine than the absolute circus it has become back home], but sitting out on the street as a family rather than split up all over the city begging? It might be all relative but it was just a little bit more than I could take......best $10 I ever spent........

Posted by hobbit1 03:06 Archived in Democratic Republic of Congo Tagged children christmas homeless equator demining Comments (0)

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