Sunday, October 21, 2012

New and Improved Kinshasa

"Mama's" fruit and vegetable stand.
Although virtually all vendors were cleared off the streets
in preparation for the Francophone Conference
and many stalls were destroyed in the process,
Mama, whose grandfather began it all, was allowed to keep her structure.
However, she was required to close it during the conference.
She always gives George & me a little "treat" of some sort,
like mangostino, lime, passion fruit or litchi nut.

Ah... the sight of lavender pajamas just makes you smile.
And the sight of all these Francs makes you laugh out loud.
At some point, when this wall was built, someone decided
that the preservation of the tree was paramount.
But, now what?
I often joke about the men's choices in clothing,
but this time, words escape me.
I recently spotted a Zebra... in the parking lot of ShopRite!
On my birthday, George had me close my eyes,
led me into the bedroom & told me to then open my eyes.
There was my birthday surprise.. Balloons & "Happy Birthday"
messages placed above the mosquito net!

This picture is taken from our living room looking northwest.
It shows my two avocado trees, grown from my own seeds.
The gardener at our chapel has told me
he would be happy to plant them on the grounds,
which makes me happy because that is
where the Kinshasa temple will also soon be built.
Our upstairs neighbors, the Robinsons, invited the Jamesons and us
to join them for dinner with two of two men sent from
Salt Lake (Ron) & Johannesburg (Rob) to prepare
for Elder Holland's visit.
Happily, I was able to contribute a bottle of sparkling grape juice
(yes, sans alcohol) which I'd never found here until last week.
I try to be careful taking pictures and just hold the pocket cam
(which looks like a cell phone) in the general direction of the subject.
But I think this man figured it out.
Talk about a wide brim...
A pink shirt and pink pajamas in one picture.
Prior to and during the Francophone Conference,
the old beat up taxis were banished from Kinshasa proper.
In their place from SOMEWHERE appeared nice buses.
You'd think that four lanes would be enough for these guys ,
but "au contraire"... our side got to claim two out of eight.
This is the artist's conception of the famous
"Blue Train" of Kinshasa... if only.

I tried to get a picture of a beautiful bird w/ bright turquoise feathers,
but it was too far to show up well in the picture
because all of the bright color is on his back! :(
The next day, he came back... but I still failed to get a good
picture, because he "hid" behind something.
Our view, looking west toward downtown Kinshasa.
On this night, it seemed to shine and sparkle
in a more beautiful way than I'd ever seen.
I bought a very similar royal blue dress in Brazzaville.
It's shiny, crinkly fabric w/ gold brocade and matching turban.
Those who have previously lived here, will also appreciate seeing
the newly bricked side walk, a planter (w/o a plant in yet)
and the red & white bars that are basically supposed to
keep the cars from parking on the sidewalk.
Yes, that's what I said.
A sort of Congo/Western combo dress.  I liked it.
Again, for those who've lived here... the green thing,
unseen before in the history of the city,
Always love to see the guys with pink parasols.
A picture taken VERY carefully of some of Kabila's troops
(well, their knees) during the tense days of the Conference.
They often had large tanks on the troop transports
and we guess it was tear gas?
Some other troops... UN this time.
Probably freshly pulled out of Goma in the east of the DRC,
where the fighting goes on & on with Rwanda
over minerals & diamonds.
Most of the taxis have religious phrases on them.
This one says "God be praised".
Despite many moral challenges, these are a religious people.
I think this is my pick for pajama winner of this week's blog.
We went to the US Ambassador's residence
to hear a program about absentee voting.
At the front door, we could see a lovely entry room
and the Ambassador to the right.
He came to greet us and was very friendly.
I love to see a well-coordinated outfit (note scarf & shoes)
and really liked the attractive style of this dress.

Slightly obscured, but also a pretty dress.
They now have red & white bars on the sidewalk edge for this.
He came up on the sidewalk, bypassed all the cars stopped
in front of him for a light and then proceeded to
cross in front of all 4 lanes to make a U-Turn!
Yet another example of "Bumper Cars" in Kinshasa!!

Did I ever show this picture of the two nurses
at Ngaliema Clinic with their turn-of-the-18th-century caps?
Reminds me of Sandra Bullock in "In Love and War"
Believe it or not, the guy in front was NOT a referee.
A stunning woman with a perfect hourglass figure
 in a beautiful, modest and feminine ensemble.
This man was on a rickety ladder cleaning up
the tall palms outside of the Mission Office.
He had a huge macheté to do the job.
Rat birds with tails twice as long as their bodies.
They love to swoop down and fluff up the dust.
We took this from the Bingham's window before they left.
He was a bird-watcher and I sure wish we had his book now.
We've only seen a couple inline skaters here.
Can't remember if I posted this before.
The city had no public restrooms.  So they built several.
Then they locked them up so no one can use them.
Guess that's one way to keep them clean.
All the Sr. Couple sisters showed up for our ward Relief Society
meeting on this Sunday at the usual 9am.
As the Relief Society teacher wrote her outline
on the board and sisters filed in, I thought it strange that
I didn't recognize anyone.  Eventually, all the English speakers
realized this wasn't our ward.  Here, they switch times with
the other wards that share a building twice a year
instead of January 1st.  We missed the announcement
"en Francais" the week before.
Not sure what fashion magazine this came from
but, for some reason, I'm reminded of Christmas.
Pink shirt AND peddle pushers!
He should take some hints from the well-dressed gents nearby
Alas, he continued on his way.  Not realizing...
I laughed when we saw this man carrying a potted plant.
It looked as if it was growing out of his head.
Three types.. western classic, casual and dressy Congolese.
A memory from the days of the Lumumba Blvd construction.
This was, of course, supposed to be OUR side of the middle.
I love it when the turbans match the dress.
I love that no dress is just like another in fabric & style...
And there are a hundred different ways to wrap a turban.
A van on it's side after an accident.  We have witnessed
countless acts of service when a car breaks down,
but this really took a lot of effort on the part of many.
The Plaza is always a source of interest and entertainment.
Here we saw several styles of Congolese dresses
but three of the five are in the same fabric.
This is often seen with sisters in a family or good friends.
This is what many places looked like before the cleanup.
I believe that Oliver Wendell Holmes was right...
"The human mind, once stretched by a new idea,
never regains it's original dimensions."
Nice Congo shirt...
and orange pajamas seem appropriate for October.
You don't see Congolese fabrics in pastels very often.
I really liked this one.
To fully appreciate these traffic pictures, you have to realize
that some of these cars are coming into the picture
at very high speed.  We SHOULD be seeing terrible accidents
every day... but somehow they make it work out.
One thing for sure.. there is no such thing as
"personal space" on the roads.
When the first gate is opened and we drive into this area,
we both let out an involuntary deep breath.  As Elder Stagg
would say, "Ahhh! We've cheated death again!"
The guards begin their routine of walking around the car
with a mirror underneath, swiping for explosive residue
and doing a hood & trunk check.
In this picture, we are waiting for this incoming car
so we can get OUT.  Soon, we'll have a separate entry & exit.
My very favorite guard is "Laurent".
He is probably the youngest of the guards,
and I just love the way that he lowers his head,
looks up under those long lashes (a gift most Congolese have)
and smiles with his big dimples.  But, THIS was not that look,
so I told him to "Smile!" again so I could get another picture.
This is a little closer to it...
Wish we could just wrap him up & take him
home with us.
I'm going to miss these wonderful smiles
on the faces of so many we care about.