Sunday, April 8, 2012

Laughing Matters

A square column (2'x2') in the middle of our kitchen.  We have to coordinate our movements so that we are both going either clock-wise or counter clock-wise.  How would a real estate person make this sound appealing?

Look clearly and you will see this hub cap is tied on, as most are.  We aren't sure if it's to prevent them being stolen or from falling off (probably both). Having badly dented fenders (and often a completely dented car) is almost "de rigueur" in Kinshasa.

Elder Bingham is totally fearless...He is not afraid to risk his own life or that of his passengers.  This picture does not do justice to the crevasse we are approaching.

I took this picture, wondering how an already full train could take on so many more people.  The answer is that they hang on the sides and even stand on the top.  
Do not try this at home.

This is "Big Arms".  He is our favorite "protection" person.  He helps us get a parking spot at "NiceCream" and stands nearby while we eat outside  (it is very narrow inside & always very crowded). George is on the left & on the other side are President & Sister Jameson, the Staggs and the Binghams.

Elder Smith spotted these in an expensive car parked outside "NiceCream".  Somehow Mickey and Minnie Mouse seats seem incongruous in the Congo.

"Jackie", who helps cook & clean in the Mission Home, came into the office one day with a new hair style. We asked what type of braid this was called & she said, "Chenille", which is the French word for caterpillar.
Can you see why?

It amused me that, in the midst of a big ceremony, this guy strutted right through.
It made me wonder for the hundredth time... why DID the chicken cross the road?

One night I went into the front room and said to George, "There's a lizard in the bathroom!" He said, "Leave him alone, he eats bugs."  So, meet my new friend.  I call him "Junior" because he is little.  I do worry about meeting his mother or father. 

When we saw the sign ("Driving School") on top of the white car, we looked at each other in shock and said, "You mean they teach people to drive here?"

This, in case you needed help knowing, is a LION.  He is the wallpaper on my computer at the office.  I told one of the Congolese office assistants that when I looked at his face, I imagined him saying, "Hello".  He shook his head and said ominously,
 "No Sister Smith!  He is saying, 'I am going to EAT you'!"

George put a rare clean franc in the mix, just to show the contrast.

Elder Bingham is 6' 4" and Chantal's mom, Jeannine, is not!  She is fiesty 80 yr old who has come from a comfortable life in Geneva, Switzerland to the Congo with her daughter and son-in-law, Eric.  He will be in charge of building a dozen new chapels in the Kinshasa area & more in other parts of the mission next year.

This is located outside of our apartment building.  You can put your trash in here if you want, but it has no bottom.

If the very long Kinshasa license doesn't fit, hammer it in until it does.

At last... a picture of the ACTUAL post office, which is used about as much as the abandoned building I once wrongly identified as the post office.  It actually doesn't look bad.  But, take a look at the advertising on top!  

Apparently the ad fooled this guy.  He's wearing a very heavy knit Christmasy cap on a 95 degree day.  When your own face is dripping with sweat, you see people selling and wearing sweaters.

 These are HUGE, long logs that weigh tons and are held on the flat-bed truck with very fragile looking cords.  Because of bumper to bumper traffic, we were forced to travel next to this guy for miles on the Kimbanseke road, with the truck just inches from our side and logs hovering over us.  The truck finally pulled ahead.  
It's not a very clear picture... probably because I was still shaking a little. 

A couple of features in this picture... an example of a pedestrian walk-over the Belge built.  But, it's fallen apart so badly that nobody dares use it... so the people risk their lives on this "Kimbanseke Raceway".  To the right, we have the ultimate Congo cut-off, which is when the vehicle doing the cutting begins to move over into your lane BEFORE he clears the front bumper of your car.

The Chinese are building the six floor office building next door.  Here are two Congolese workers who have obviously been instructed in the art of making Chinese "shading hats" out of cardboard.

I saw this collection in a small grocery store across from "Mama's" stand, where we get much of our fruit.  There was only ONE thing here with a recognizable name & that was "pate"...  
 which is French for "You don't want to actually eat this!"

Most of these cheeses also had names I was not familiar with, but I did buy some Gouda and Emmantal.  One store had about 10 types of Gouda with every conceivable variation of flavors (curry, garlic, cajun etc)

Now, here's a fun collection.  The pineapple and banana are easy to identify.  And some might recognize the mangos and MAYBE the orange (which is more green than orange), but you might not know Papaya (back left), and probably not the three front ones... Passion Fruit, Mangastina and the fuzzy little Litchi.

This machine, which reminds me of "HAL" in "2001 Space Odessy", is the bain of George's existence.... a Chinese-made washer/dryer combo with a will of it's own.  
It is unalterably set on a water temperature capable of boiling eggs and takes a minimum of 5 1/2 hours to complete a wash and dry cycle.  It "talks" to you in it's own language with various beeps.  One of these is a signal that most would interpret as "Finished", but it won't let you open the door for 20 minutes.  So all of your hot clothes (no cool-down option), are wrinkled by the time you can get them out.
If you try too soon, it petulantly restarts the wash cycle.

The Binghams were complaining that they didn't have a picture of themselves on our Mission Office wall board, so I drew one to put up.
Unfortunately, he is very tall.

Yes sir!  Yes Sir! Three bags full! How would you like having to haul out your bank withdrawal with duffle bags.

This is what happens when you are working as an accountant in a cash society.  It's about 19 million francs, which will buy you... not that much!

The picture doesn't do it justice, but this was the funniest looking little van.  It is only two-seats wide, which makes it ideal for squeezing into the middle of a 2-lane road.

Knowing that we were having 13 for dinner on Easter Sunday night, I thought it would be nice to buy some flowers.  They are so waxy that they appear to be artificial.  I'd never seen anything like them before... until Saturday.  After driving for miles on bad roads to get to the Bonobono Primate Reserve... Lo and Behold!... In the middle of the jungle, were these same flowers.


  1. I LOVE the flowers! They are delightful!! I really enjoyed this blog, full of fun stories and pictures!!! The trash can with no bottom is pretty funny too! I love you and glad that all is well!

  2. I guess I should just say repeat on Janice's comment. This was a fun and interesting blog. The flowers are exotic. I think the best part of the kitchen might be the view but even with all the money in the world you won't see me living in your world!! I also like your picture of the Binghams...looks like you have to much time on your hands, but I'm glad you're enjoying it.

  3. It is fun for me to get feedback and read what picture or story was most meaningful, or in the case of this posting, funniest. Re: the trash can.. I often pick up random pieces of litter and would have used that container if Elder Stagg had not warned me. Re: the flowers.. the stalks were so heavy and long that the only thing I could put them in was a narrow cut-off plastic 2 liter water bottle. It was not heavy enough to insure they wouldn't tip over, so my beautiful flowers had to stay propped in the kitchen.
    Re: too much time.. I work a minimum of 8 hrs a day & eat lunch at my desk, but when the muse calls, one must answer. :)

  4. By the time you see this it should be April 15th so Happy Anniversary you crazy old fools!! How are you going to celebrate Congo style??