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Day Two: Driving to Bukavu

We drove out of Uvira and saw some of the highlights of life in the Congo. For example, the women doing the laundry in the river.

We started to see some of the variety of architecture we associate with Africa, such as the round hut.

We even had opportunity to stop by a roadside stand for oranges. This was the Congo equivalent of a Quick Stop on the express way. The children we passed all wanted to see Muzungu and everyone wanted their photo taken.

Then we hit the mountains. Because we did not have multiple entry into Congo, we could not take the good road that meandered into Rwanda and back to the Congo. So we drove along the mountains on the Congo side: Across the river you can see Rwanda.

The drive was more bumpy than I can figure out how to explain. It made me think the uncomfortable Safari ride at Disney Animal Kingdom was pretty accurate. We drove for a few hours on the side of the mountain, frequently coming closer to the edge than we thought was necessary. Tammy and I laughed about it that night, we had hit so many other rocks and holes did we really need to risk rolling off the cliff to avoid one?

Eventually we began to see signs of life and we passed through Nayngezi where we would teach on our way to Bukavu where we would stay for a few days. Our first views of Bukavu were small brown rooftops lining the hills. It seemed to stretch forever before we got into the city.

The city roads were just as bumpy as the mountain road but now with people and oncoming traffic everywhere you looked.

Flory asked me later why I didn’t take more pictures coming into Bukavu. I didn’t know how to explain it to him. The houses were pitiful little wood and mud structures and the ragged people were everywhere. The women carrying heavy bundles on their heads and backs were so dusty, it was obvious they had been walking for miles. The thought of taking pictures to highlight the extreme poverty made me sick to my stomach. I just sat and watched this world I would probably never know and tried to make sense of what I was seeing.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)