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Left Harare on 21 Jan. Got a ride to the office, then to the airport, plane delayed by 2 hours, but we finally got to Nairobi (via Dar Es Salaam). Friday, got a flight to Goma. Flying over the great lakes region shows that it has heavy land use. Every scrap of ground has something on it, and very hilly ground too.

In Goma, we have to produce passports and yellow fever vaccine certificates. Jean Pierre and Ali take us to the VIP Palace Hotel. No view of the lake, as promised in the brochure, but lunch is fish and chips. A whole fish, fins, scales, tail, head and all, and it will not fit on the plate! What a change from Zimbabwe. Went for a walk after lunch. There are herds of goats, people washing motorcycles at the side of the lake with lake water, few people swimming (no crocodiles in this lake, sulfurous gases), and the traffic! Notwithstanding that the roads are basically two rut tracks, there are vehicles all over them. And motorcycles – small 125 roadsters – with two people on them and looking for a another passenger. In Goma, they make their own bicycles. All in wood. Two wheels, frame, handlebars. No brakes, no pedals. But it is a bicycle nevertheless. Loaded with stuff (wood, charcoal) and pushed along, or ridden downhill.

There are no buildings over 4 stories in Bukavu, and very few that are two. All wall dominant architecture though. Very continental European. The influence of Bauhaus and Gropius is strong in some houses. Few tile roofs mainly sheet metal. It rains all the time. And the architecture is very ‘peculiar’. I am now staying in a house where the only way into my room is through the bathroom. Has a window to the outside, but you have to go from my room to the bathroom (and hope no one is using it) then into the sitting room. Weird.

Shopping in Bukavu is quite a different thing. There are no ‘shops’, but plenty of vendor kiosks to structures of two rooms selling everything from computer printers and coke. Repackaged sugar (from a 20 kg to 20 x 1 kg plastic scrap bags). Shirts, and tins of beans. I watched someone selling oil (cooking oil) from a tub, pouring it into ‘bring your own bottles’. Everyone sells whatever they can to make a profit on that day.

More later.

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