Monday, September 5, 2011

Good-bye Congo

All of a sudden, I find myself at the end of my time in Congo.  It really snuck up on me.  Part of that is my fault though, as I was originally scheduled to leave on October 11th.  However, after a very difficult few weeks, I decided to leave earlier than planned.  My rescheduled flight leaves on September 11th.  So now, I have just a few more days left in Congo before going to Rome for a month of reflection.  Finally, on October 17th I will fly home and be back in Denver!

I am ready to leave.  I am very tired and each day wears on me, so going to Rome early is a relief.  I wanted to keep going another month to finish up my commitment, but I keep crashing and having to spend more time in bed recovering from work than actually working, so I am now at peace to leave here.  I also have a wonderful opportunity to stay in Rome for a few weeks to reflect on my experience and think about the next steps in my life.  I can start to see how Congo has changed me and my future and prepare for whatever I will be doing next…and do all this while taking hot showers and eating gelato.

The library is in good hands with Bolingo who I’ve worked with for several months now and Sr. Esperance, who I have had only a week with, but I have great confidence in her.  The Cyber is doing well and will survive, but might have some technical difficulties- but I’m sure someone will arrive to help them; probably someone much more qualified to work on computers than me!  I hope to write a few more blogs from Rome on the last updates of my project and life here, so check in again soon for some final reflections on my Congo life.

In closing, I’ll mention a few things that I will and will not miss about Congo.

What I will miss:

  1. Music at church- even daily mass has a fantastic choir, and Sunday mass is alive with joyful music and church dancing- how many times have you hopped up on the pews and danced for joy?  I’m afraid I might find myself out of line come Christmas…
  2. Cheap avocados- O to be able to make guacamole, curry, soup, egg salad, pie, and so much more for a mere 5 cents per avocado (or FREE from our trees).  I will die when I see the prices of avocados in America. 
  3. Fashion- I love pagnes.  My suitcase is bursting with African cloth that I’ve made into skirts, and some that I have yet to make into skirts.  I hope I don’t find a pattern that is relatively dull here to be too brilliant for the American fashion scene.
  4. Zooming around town on the back of a motorcycle.  It’s terrifying, and yet fun. 
  5. The friendliness, kindness, and generosity of the people.  Life is difficult here, and Aru is a very poor place materially, but the joy, patience, and love that people live with had been remarkable to watch and I hope that I can incorporate that attitude into my life in America. 

What I will not miss:

  1. Burning my trash- I have a vague guilty feeling that burning all that plastic is bad for the environment…and what about batteries?
  2. Cold showers- not even a little bit, not even nostalgically, not at all, will I miss cold showers, in fact I might just not shower until I reach Rome, it’s only 5 days away.
  3. The rainy season for all the mud…and the dry season for all the dust
  4. Being followed down the street by children yelling “mondele” (white person).   I mean really, you’ve seen white people before…get over it.
  5. Giant rats in the bakery, cockroaches popping out of shower drains, and un-dead spiders!  And termites- giant, flying, termites!!  And of course, those pesky mosquitoes that sent me to the hospital for a week.

On that note, I sign off from Congo…but I hope to sign on agian in Rome very soon!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen, I am behind on your blog and am catching up tonight. I am so sorry to hear that you were so sick. I hope you are feeling better now and you are resting well in Rome. Please let me know when you have time to get together after your return to Denver. We would all love to see you and you will be surprised to see how grown up Molly and Ciara are. Love to you! Mary and the rest of the O'Neil Family