Where I’m at: Brazza, back from a weekend of camping
What I’m doing: using the first slow week I’ve had here yet to play catch up
Why I’m posting:….and….caught up
It’s been nearly 3/4 of a month since I last blogged (and nearly a year since I blawged; check out my buddy Andy’s site if your itching for some good blawging. Kid’s got a future, I tells ya). That means, of course, that I’ve forgotten about everyone I’ve ever cared about. I’ve moved on. Sorry.
No…of course what that means is that I’ve been busy. And despite now having home internet (and a car! finally!), I just haven’t found the time to share my thoughts on life in a strange land. If it’s any consolation, not blogging, calling, or emailing people brings me an overwhelming sense of guilt. Lest anyone think I’ve lost all of that good guilt that 21 years of Catholic education gave me.
So what’s been new? What’s it like plugging away, day by day, in Brazzaville? Well, most importantly, it rained 2 weeks ago. For something like 2 hours even. This may come as a shock to people that think that living in a tropical forest country on the equator means it rains all the time (“Waitwaitwait…and there’s two Congos?!”), but for a good chunk of the year, it doesn’t rain here at all. We’ve chosen to call this period the “dry season.” Look it up on wikipedia. Totally exists.
But what rain means to me is more important: less dust. As I’ve commented (as has my wife on her blog), there is dust here and lots of it. A very knowledgable scientist on the region told me that that is because during the last ice age when a glacier moved across Congo (“Wait…now there’s ice, too?!”), it deposited huge amounts of sand in the area. This is cool and also too bad. Now that the war is more than a decade in the rearview, the biggest fight here is against the sand. Every year during the dry season, the sand piles up along roadsides, which annoys people like me that walk to work and find all their work attire dusty when they arrive. But it’s worse for most people here because the dry season also brings a decrease in the water level of the river and an increase in the sand banks. The result is that the ports on both sides of the river are less and less usable, making food harder and harder to transport across. Couple that with food price shocks across the world finally reaching Congo (despite government price controls) and that means food prices have doubled for most staple foods in the last 3 months, and accessing them is increasingly hard.
So it might not seem like much, but yeah, rain is a big deal here, even if it’s only for a few hours. Of course, I was mostly just happy that I could take the back route to work, which is quieter because of less traffic, but generally dustier because it isn’t paved.