Travel East

After a long time of planning and much waiting and postponements, we finally made the trip East to visit Othy’s family in Butembo! I put our apartment on Airbnb and since we found a long term guest from mid-June to mid-August, we decided to keep our apartment and hope that we will continue to find more guests. It meant that in addition to packing for the trip we also had to make sure our apartment was Airbnb ready. We purchased extra shelving, some bedside lamps, an extra mattress, cleaning supplies, among other things! We were supposed to leave on Sunday June 13th, but when we went for the required Covid testing, Othy tested negative and I tested positive! I was on the tail-end of what I thought was a regular cold because my symptoms were a headache and a stuffed up nose. Othy and Moses had both experienced something a bit earlier than me which is why he may have tested negative. It was hard to believe! We had to post-pone our travel by five days, but in the end I was grateful for those days because we were able to get things much more organized and didn’t have to leave in such a rush. Four days later I also tested negative and we flew out early in the morning on Friday the 18th, the same day our Airbnb guests were meant to arrive.

Our apartment all ready for Airbnb!

The airport was chaotic but there are agents you can pay to help bring you through. I am glad that after the long wait in the airport that they let us on the plane first so that we could get settled and get Moses changed and fed! The flight was smooth and we arrived in Goma in the early afternoon. Moses’ first flight experience went fairly well though he breast-fed way more than usual! He really enjoyed walking up and down the aisles and making friends with some of the people sitting nearby. From the airport we took a taxi to Bungwe Guest House where we decided to stay for our short time in Goma. We had no choice but to stay for a few days in Goma to wait for the next available flight to Butembo, but it was a great opportunity to visit family and friends in Goma. That evening we visited Hortense, Serge, and their daughter Eliana who is the same age as Moses. It was good to catch up since the last time we saw them was at their wedding!

The following day our friend Maurice picked us up and we visited Obady and Marie’s family and met their daughter Grace who is also Moses’ age. Moses has three cousins who were born within a few months of him! We returned to Obady’s place and in the evening we went for a walk around their neighbourhood. It felt good to walk and breathe in the fresh cool air. Moses fell asleep on Marie’s back.

On Sunday we went to the English service at CBCA church with Hortense and Serge. Afterwards we spent much of the day at their place while Othy worked on his coursework for the Mandela fellowship. I went with Hortense to the market and got to witness how much more affordable and fresh the food is here compared to Kinshasa! She purchased two fresh heads of cabbage for 1000chf when in Kinshasa I would spend 2000 for a single head that was not at all fresh! We also found two pairs of nice shoes for Moses.

Later in the day we visited some family who live within a hundred meters of where the river of lava from the volcanic eruption just a few weeks earlier stopped flowing. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like for them to leave their homes and then later to realize their home had been spared but by such a small distance. We went down the street and climbed up the hill of lava. Behind us were houses and shops and in front of us was a huge field of lava rock that you could tell was still radiating heat. I could still feel a bit of warmth through the bottom of my shoes. The lava was about a storey high and must have brought the buildings down as there was nothing sticking out of the new layer of rock. It was amazing and sad and scary to behold. Finally in the evening we visited Fabrice and his wife Joseline who prepared a wonderful dinner for us.

Monday was our final day in Goma. Both Othy and I took the morning to get more work done. In the afternoon and evening I had a few calls and then our friends Maurice and Chance came and brought us to have dinner with Jon and Kate Shaw. I had not seen them since my visit to Kenya in 2019! Their boys had grown so much in only two years! The visit felt too short but we were grateful for the small time we had. Afterwards we stopped in to visit a good family friend Vital who is in poor health. Everyone enjoyed meeting Moses for the first time. Early the next morning we headed to the airport for our flight to Butembo!

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