Likasi Visit

A few months after we moved here, Seb’s chief geologist and Congolese mentor Papa Nzita invited us to meet his family and have a look around his adopted hometown of nearby Likasi, about two hours east by dirt road. Built up by the Belgians who originally called it Jadotville, Likasi was once one of the crown jewels of this region, even considered a tourist destination in many travel books of the time. Fifty years later and you can still see the beauty of the place… if you look with Congified glasses. Ignore the potholes, the peeling paint, every third abandoned or crumbled building and you’ll discover the skeleton of a beautiful colonial capital. Wide tree-lined boulevards, grand art-deco buildings, and roundabouts with large fountains (some of them even with water!). Surprisingly, I’m taken by the place. If Seb’s job took him this direction, I’d be happy to settle in here. Continue reading

Lukutola Visit

Fellow geologist and friend Sergio took us on a visit to Lukutola today, a Spanish Catholic mission in a small village on the concession.  The mission is run by one priest and three volunteers, guys from Mexico or Spain.  Sergio is from the Canary Islands, so he speaks Spanish fluently with the others.  The volunteers are learning the local language quickly, and some French as well (which is less important in the villages).  Hugo from Oaxaca speaks English perfectly; he said he studied in the States for a bit.  I studied Spanish not very long at all, but it’s funny how it lodged itself in my brain as “the foreign language”… so every time I reach for a new word, out it comes.  Since I arrived I’ve been struggling to switch from the Spanish article “el” to the French “le” and from the rolled “r” to the throaty French one.  Ugh.  Even though now with the guys I can say only a couple of sentences in Spanish, somehow this break from French feels like a relief. Continue reading