Friday, May 06, 2005

An Average Day in Kindu, Congo

Does it get more exciting, I think not!

6:00 – Sun shines in. Wake up to rooster crowing and baby crying just outside bedroom window. Put earplugs back in and go back to sleep
7:25 – Alarm clock on cellphone goes off.
7:30 – Splash face crouched over cement shower basin (no sink), brush teeth with treated water, moisturize
7:45 – Out of limited wardrobe, pick out a work outfit. Usually involves pants, white tank top, and light buttoned shirt
7:55 – Make list of food for lunch (beans, rice, manioc leaves) and leave money for Aminata. Normally 500 francs (one dollar).
8:00 – Set 20 liter plastic water jugs outside apartment door. Walk 100 feet to office. Radio the guards to start the generator
8:15 – Guards report they can’t start the generator and are waiting for the mechanic. Start computer and look at “to do” list.
8:30 – The whirring and clanking of the generator begins. Ponder whether to write “Scientific America” and share the breakthrough that noise travels better in Kindu than any place else on earth.
8:30 – 12:30 Work. Currently, analyzing monitoring and evaluation data, creating action and project implementation plans for the next few months, and writing a project report for the donor. Somewhere in this period I will usually get at least one text message from a guy friend just wishing me a good day (today it was Edmuendo, Peruvian military observer)
12:30 – Arrive back home for lunch. Sigh as it is not ready, and Aminata looks surprised to see me, even though I arrive generally the same time every day and ask that lunch be ready.
12:45 – Eat beans, rice, and manioc leaves. Daydream about cheese and anything that isn’t beans, rice and manioc leaves. Take a short nap with earplugs to drown out the noise of the neighbor’s generator.
1:30 – 5:30 Return to work. If cell rings while at desk, rush to a specific corner in a corridor where I get a full two bars of reception. Check out Antropoolgie website to see all the cute clothes I can’t buy right now.
5:30 – Walk 100 feet home. Do pilates (with laptop DVD player), read, head out for tennis or just chill on the porch. If I am going to live in the middle of the Congo, might was well be well-read with good abs.
7:00 – Radio the guards to turn on the electricity for the apartment. Eat the leftover beans, rice and manioc leaves. If ambitious, heat up. Lift 25 lb jugs and pour them into shower bucket and toilet flush bucket. Notice that right bicep appears to be looking pretty good as a result.
8:00 – Give guard leftover food. Head to MONUC (United Nations headquarters), a friend’s house, or just stay home and chill. If a clear night, check out the stars, which are incredible because of the lack of lights in the town.
9:30 – Heat up water on kerosene camping stove for a nice warm bucket bath.
10:00 – Kill a few cockroaches and throw them off the porch. Make sure they are really dead because sometimes they jump back to life when you sweep them into the dustpan. 10:15 – Bath, read and then off to bed.
10:45-11:30 Put earplugs in. Goodnight, Kindu.
Sounds pretty boring, right? It’s definitely not the most dramatic lifestyles. But there are the moments that people probably think about when they picture this work: riding a motorcycle through the jungle, sitting in a pirogue heading up the famous Congo River, or handing some old African mamma a bag of household items at a distribution. Those moements, however, and only 10% of my job. The planning, evaluating and reporting are the 90%.


Blogger Baba T said...

I found your day very interesting but not one I would like to have. My day was great with a visit from Carey, Brendan, Natalie, and your mom and dad. It was a lot of fun for all of us. Love you.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Sahara Sarah said...

Well, future days in the states will include family and soy lattes. love you too!

4:36 PM  
Blogger Michelle Bailey Webster said...

Wow - I guess you don't hvae 2 for 1 candybars at CVS - or if you use your Kroger plus card, 10 large size candybars for $10 (I guess that would be around 5000 francs - sounds alot more expensive when you put it like that!)

I've been feeling the need lately to scale back and lead "the simple life" - you just nipped that thought in the bud! Thank you!

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed your blog had something to do with Pilates. We've been thinking about adding a Pilates program to our Karate School as an alternative aerobic activity. I really enjoyed the info on your site.

6:27 AM  

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