Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lubumbashi (L'shi)

(view from one of the university buildings)

downtown L'shi (centre ville) is a 250 franc congolais (fc) minibus ride from the house, although i have yet to see a 50fc bill! so usually the conductor gives back 200fc (500fc is the most common denomination) until all the passengers complain for 100 more. $1 = 890 fc right now, and people walk around with bricks of bills and there are exchange stands all over. downtown is really busy and i saw boxes of goods from thailand, zambia, kinshasa, south africa, india, china, dubai, tanzania, as well as alot of L'shi manufactured goods like biscuits, bottled water, beer, mattresses... also for some reason the government mandated that most buildings au centre ville be painted some shade of orange.

the L'shi Post Office is in the middle of the city on a roundabout that is very noisy with local radio and commercials blasting from speaker stands. upon entering, however, instead of the postal service, there is a bustling cell phone store in operation. after the collapse of various state services including the postal system, the building was left virtually empty except for a section of the top floor that still runs what was left of the postal service. two years ago, a few chinese merchants negotiated with the city and began setting up display counters for cell phones inside the atrium and now the post office predominantly functions as a store that sells many imported mobile phones. anyway thought it was interesting!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

unilu guesthouse & rain

staying at a house through the university of lubumbashi that is a short bus (like daladala/matatu kind except you can get in the back too) ride from downtown. its raining today so there are alot of very large snails.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

belgian keyboards make no k ind of sense!!!

this keyboard is hard to type on so i am doing bullet points (photos right are addis ababa, ethiopia. you can see amharic on the sign)

- shockingly did not miss the flight in addis ababa, and sat next to these chinese mining company workers on the lubumbashi plane that had the most hard liquor ive ever seen on a plane refreshment cart.
- after a semichaotic exit from the plane/customs i wandered around an hour or so to find a sim card (Zain is here!) for my beautiful uganda/dubai phone to call this guy who was supposed to pick me up.
- realized that the driver of my car was driving on the right side of the road (former belgian colony), but was also sitting on the right side of the car. this is because katanga, the province im in, uses cars from australia (that are used in zambia, former british colony) as well as cars from brasil/europe.
- ppl speak french and swahili interchangably qnd use congolese francs, US dollars and euros everyzhere (below is a pic of downtown lubumbashi from bbc)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Attention all travelers

1. Snow Globes Are Not TSA-Approved.
"We are not in cahoots with the Heat Miser, but snow globes are not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened and destroyed to test. We’re not in the business of busting snow globes, so we suggest you place them in your checked baggage or mail them ahead of time."

2. why can you always spot missionaries from a mile away? because theyre dressed up as Santa and an elf on the flight to ethiopia.

3. persuaded flight agent to assign me a window seat for the addis-lubumbashi flight. score!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

night before takeoff

hi lovely parents, here is a blog to make you sleep a little better at night! every few days click on the link i sent you in the email.

still in the beautiful Boulder, Colorado where light, dry and sparkly snow is piling up. just came back from chilling with/accidentally running into high school peoples at southern sun pub. Luckily, DIAis familiar with my namesake and with a bit of luck all flights will be on time tomorrow.

itinerary: christmas eve Denver - NYC - DC - Rome - Addis Ababa - Lubumbashi boxing day. fingers crossed a dude named Tshishiku will pick me up from the airport.

packing up a lil duffel and backpack: passport, photocopies of passport, rain stuff, alot of pills, dubai phone (same one, alex!), crosswords, french/kiswahili dictionaries, emergency whistle (unnecessary, dad), antimosquito things, pens/gifts for academics, cameras (tentative), heavily edited and but untouched thesis drafts, some clothes n shizz etc etc.

roger that, over and out.