Wednesday, June 08, 2005

When asking for electricity is asking too much...

Ever have one of those days where you walk to work (your car died the night before and you had to leave it outside your friend's place, fueling rumors that you are sleeping with him), the generator's broken (meaning zero power to the office or house), your bosses tell you that you have to change to work from a different city for a couple of weeks (meaning that all the work you wanted to do in your regular spot is out the window) and you try to get out for a vacation but your plane ticket request is rejected by the airline?

Thought not. The hardest part about living here is not the lack of creature comforts, but the fact that just counting on the basic minimuns is sometimes too much to ask for. Granted, internet wasnt here a year ago, so I am really lucky.

Take my up-coming weekend trip to Uganda as an example. Following the plane incident in Tunda, getting stranded in the jungle a couple of days, then busting my buns to get to Kinshasa (where I worked 11 hour days), i explained to my superiors that a little time off was needed for me to step back from things and maintain peak performance. There was a very positive reaction! So I arranged everything and applied for the plane ticket via the UN, as there are no other airlines I can take. They rejected it. A very good friend of mine has since launched an intervention on my behalf and it looks like this is going to be changed (this was right after I burst into tears in his office). It's not a question of money. If I had to pay 400 bucks for this ticket I wouldnt have cared. It's the fact that I can't fly there with anyone, as there is no "anyone" going there. It's like if there were only one flight in between Boston and New York and it was free, but if you didn't get on it, you had no other options. In the Congo you can't exactly hop in the car and drive anywhere. The roads are so bad that you pretty much can't make it more than 150 miles away from the province capital in a vehicle. Argh.

But here's the good news. One, my job can never really be called "boring." Two, I'm making a difference. Three, I am going to Ethiopia at the end of the month paid for by my NGO. In fact, this year I plan on ten days in Ethiopia, two weeks in Tanzania, a quick trip to Uganda, and more than a month at home, with all travel and time off covered by the NGO. Ethiopia is critical because if my family meets me in Tanzania I won't be able to use it for x-mas shopping. My identity as a third world jetsetter means that x-mas presents need to be from exotic locales (and Congo falls short of good stuff, unless people really do want some large masks for their walls).

Well, time to get more work done. If I am going to indeed make it Uganda, I want to do it stress free.


Blogger 007 in Africa said...

Hey girl. I cannot believe that there was no internet in the place a year ago. What is this place? Congo? Oops, hehe, it is Congo indeed. Sigh. Let me know how your trip goes, 'k?

4:55 PM  
Blogger Mom said...

Soooo...did you ever make it to Uganda? And what did you find when you got there?

10:10 PM  
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