Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done

…and told my mom about in advance.

I am happy to report that I have safely returned from my adventurous weekend in the Congo, hiking and sleeping on top of an active volcano. Andd…that’s about all I have to say about that.

Unfortunately, the hike and the camping were disappointingly uneventful: we 5 muzungus (me, Alex, German Girl, French Guy #1 and French Guy #2 – we actually forgot French Guy #1’s name, and then it turned out to be Pierre, of course) hiked up with our 4 porters, 6 armed guards, and guide. We packed all the necessities needed to celebrate spending the night on top of an active volcano: goat cheese, brie, wine, champagne, and a disposable camera.

Pause: All these things are available in Congo, apparently the land of the plenty. Rwanda, despite being obsessively proud of its milk (the story goes that President Kagame and his wife met over sharing a glass of milk) and goats, cannot produce more than one type of cheese. (I’m so over you, gouda.) And it certainly cannot import anything. Congo, on the other hand, despite not having a functional government had Presidente brie in its supermarket. And Mini-Wheats. And Prego spaghetti sauce. And Sauza tequila for $12 (bought it). And Axe body spray. …yet, walking through the grocery store, I had the sense of being in post-WWI Germany (potentially associated with the fact that I had just finished “reading” Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants) – the shelves were empty. I mean, where there were groceries, they were amazing and unheard of right across the border in Rwanda, but they also just didn’t have so many basic groceries. No bread for example. We asked for it. There was just no bread that day. They were out and weren’t getting more. Throughout the store, an amazing selection of cheeses and salamis and frozen pizzas would be on display next to a completely empty refrigerator…I guess no milk either. It was a creepy display of how the country has imported products readily available, but almost nothing local.

2nd Pause: Yup, didn’t trust myself enough to bring the digital camera so I only have disposable shots of the volcano. Thankfully, Pierre sent some…enjoy!

Yes -- that is molten boiling lava behind me. I'm so nervous about falling off the cliff as this picture is being taken that I just can't smile properly.

Molten boiling lava.

How many Congolese does it take to get 5 muzungus up a volcano? (Answer: more than pictured here.)
Perhaps the safest thing about the weekend was that I was able to avoid going on any moto rides in Congo.

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