Rumors of my disappearance were mostly exaggerated.

Four-odd weeks after hopping on a bus to Gisenyi – with just a single paltry blog post to show for it – I am comfortably ensconced once again in Kigali. Despite a rash (or pair) of kidnappings in the Congo in recent weeks, I can safely say I was not abducted by mai-mai in South Kivu province; nor was I shorn of all head and body hair by militias hoping to score some potent juju at the expense of my short and curlies. (This actually happened to a Spanish doctor abducted by Enyele rebels earlier this month. Time and time again in Congo, you slap your forehead and think, “Somewhere in this vast country, a budding JK Rowling awaits.”) I did, however, more or less vanish for a solid month, making my return to this long-neglected blog terribly overdue.

Kartasi brand notebooks: 'Wonderful Products for Wonderful People'

It was, still, a productive month. Having decided to leave my laptop behind – partly out of a spirit of Victorian adventurousness, partly to resist the temptation of Simpsons reruns on those lonely nights in Cyangugu – I went the very old-fashioned route of putting pen to pad. The results were, I’ll admit, pretty astonishing. I wrote with my morning coffees and with my lunch-time buffets; I wrote over Fantas and Primuses, and with the lingala music from the club next door rattling my fillings. By the time I got back to Kigali I’d filled more than half-a-dozen (admittedly small) notebooks – a novella’s worth of impressions, conversations, observations, and ruminations, mostly written in a self-serious tone that none of you, dear friends, will be forced to bear.

Still, I have much I’d like to salvage from all of that – close to 75,000 words, as far as I can tell. Either I’ll tweet the whole kit ‘n’ Congolese kaboodle in 3,000 installments starting tomorrow, or I’ll sift through it all, give it a good editorial reaming, and try to parse it down to a few particular anecdotes worth sharing. As a teaser, I’ll say: the one about the drunk pygmy FARDC colonel, you don’t wanna miss!

'The horror!' The view of Nyiragongo and Goma, DRC, from aboard the Miss Rafiki ferry.

I’ll say, lastly, that it’s good to be back in front of my laptop, feeling my ass getting fatter by the paragraph. You don’t realize how much you miss your friends and portable electronic devices until you’re stuck on ten hours’ worth of bus rides through rural Rwanda, trying hard (and how often is this the case?) to find a way into the Congo. It’s good to be home, in a sense, for the next few days. I’ll be a knot-making machine this week, tying up loose ends in Kigali, and then it’s off to Jo’burg for fresh adventures and mo’ mischief. I’ll miss this nutty little region, to be sure. But it’s a great big continent and a great big world, and this li’l postcardjunky has to find new pastures.

3 responses to “Rumors of my disappearance were mostly exaggerated.

  1. Good god, you took the Miss Rafiki and lived to tell about it. Even starving grad students don’t do that.

    What’s more astonishing is that she appears to have created a wake. Of sorts.

  2. Better still was the overnight trip back to Goma aboard the MV Iko. Thirteen hours across Lake Kivu – at times, I swear we were going backwards.

  3. 13 HOURS?!?!?! Was it pulled across the lake by fish?!

    Welcome back!

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