Year in Review

The Ninth Year

Yes, another year has gone by. Yes, we are still alive. YES, I know, I’ve been extraordinarily quiet. Part of that — a large part of that — is that I’ve been feeling somewhat “censored” in what I can comfortably share. A year ago we hadn’t yet noticed much difference under the new management; today that is no longer true. A year ago we were hoping to hang on until our 10-year anniversary; today we’re not sure about next month. Nor whose choice that will turn out to be. Suffice it to say that a lot has been changing around here, and that we miss all the friends we’ve known during our nine years here in Congo, especially now as the number of remaining expats is at an all-time low.

In the spirit of our annual year-in-review, here’s a photo (or three or four) from each month. It’s been a quiet year, not a lot of movement beyond our home in Bravo camp that didn’t involve two feet or two bicycle wheels, but with “Congo eyes” I can see a lot of variation in the landscape from month to month. We still get to enjoy our travel benefits, too, but each time we return from an amazing vacation, I’m grateful to find it’s still rather easy to take a lot of pride and pleasure in the littlest things. That’s probably one of the biggest lessons living here has taught me. How nice it can be to just slow down and keep things simple.

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The Seventh Year

How on earth is it September again already? Last I looked it was March.

September 1st seven years ago we began our little adventure over here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the time, we thought we might stay a year or two. I remember telling a friend we might even be back within six months, because the company’s contract was currently being renegotiated with the government and nobody could predict how that was going to turn out. Signs weren’t altogether positive as there had been a little skirmish nearby and the spouses had been evacuated while we were packing up our things in Tucson, delaying our departure by a couple of days.

That event passed, the spouses came back just in time to welcome a new one, and seven years later — one signed contract, a couple more evacuations, one global ebola scare (plus lots of local ones that no one abroad ever hears of), seven rainy seasons, zero cases of cholera/yellow fever/typhoid/malaria between us (but numerous giardia flare-ups, two entirely self-inflicted salmonella incidents and one self-diagnosed case of trichinosis), one cancelled presidential election, and one major change in company ownership later — here we still are. It turns out, we’ve not once regretted it. Giardia included.

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2 Years in Congo!

Yesterday we celebrated our 2-year anniversary here in DRC. How time flies! This year has been full of adventures — well, after spending the first 3 months of the year in medical quarantine in Florida. (Which was fun in its own way, spending time with Mom & Rudy, then seeing lots of friends & family on a grand U.S. tour.) Seb and I celebrated his birthday in April on the island paradise of Seychelles, followed by a stop in Ethiopia to visit a friend of mine from grad school. Then in June, we brought Seb’s folks from Québec and mine from Kansas to join us for a camping safari in Botswana. Fantastic! There’s nothing like sleeping under the stars hearing lions roar in the distance, while hoping the elephants knocking down trees all night long don’t accidentally step on your tent.

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One Year in Congo!

One year ago today we arrived at our new home in Congo. What a year it has been! The time has flown by, actually. I remember how exciting it was when we first arrived… everything so new, so different. And gratefully, the “magic” is still there for me now. On walks around town or trips to the city or local market, I still pinch myself all the time. So many incredible sights to observe.

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