Layers. The Congo is like a complex piece of fruit, you have to peel back the layers to get to the meaty sweet part.
The outside peel is bitter, dirty, rutty. Something like 10 million people live in and around the capital, Kinshasa. There is constant gridlock and pollution grays the sky almost everyday. The mighty Congo river is the life force of Kinshasa; supplying all of the imported goods to the DRC from around the world. And while there is a very visible level of western influence and globalization, there is still a very palatable taste of a developing country.
The brutality of travel. Welcome to Angola, a plane filled with French speaking Congolese, a flight crew that could care less about L'Americain, a couple of expats, and a rather cranky ground crew who only speak Portuguese. I lost sight of that familiar comfort of home in a nano-second, when I realized that it is not standard fair to land uninvited in a country that is notorious for being a hotbed of conflict and engaged nonstop in civil war since 1975.
A few days from now, I will be disembarking a plane in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As I have planned for this trip over the last few months, I am constantly asked a series of questions and comments that bear answering. So, folks. Blog numero uno will be answers.