Tag Archives: Kindu

Creatures of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is full of interesting critters, and I saw a few of them during the five months I spent in different parts of the country. Now that I’ve left DRC, here’s a snapshot of some of the bugs and beasts I encountered:

Caterpillars in Kindu:

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Caterpillars eventually turn into butterflies and moths, like these ones in Lubutu and Kindu:

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Tadpoles near Lubutu:

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Praying mantises in Kindu:

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And more praying mantises near Lubutu:

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Dragonflies near Lubutu:

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Strange but not unfamiliar creepy crawly in my Kisangani hotel room:

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Strange and unfamiliar bug near Lubutu:

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Huge beetle in Lubutu:

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Cricket in Kindu:

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Grasshopper with a face like a cartoon skull in Kisangani:

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And of course some predators… ants attacking something bigger than them in Kindu:

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Ants attacking a larger flying red ant in Kindu:

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Spider gobbling up an unidentified critter in my Kindu bathroom:

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A baby gecko, great hunters of mosquitoes and other insects, in Kindu:

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A skink in Kindu:

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An agama lizard in Beni:

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Another agama lizard, caught and killed by a creature higher up in the food chain in Beni:

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Three crocodiles relaxing together in Beni:

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Two turtles in the same pond as the crocodiles, also stacked up, in Beni:

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Annoyingly loud pied crows in Beni:

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Polite and silent kid goat near Obokote:

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Relatively obedient cow between Lubutu and Kisangani:

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And a large and not-at-all shy fruit bat in Beni:

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Flyga från Kindu till Kanada

(I put the title in Swedish so I could justifiably spell Canada with a K, because alliteration is awesome)

On the evening of June 28th, I landed in Vancouver without telling anyone but my family. Getting there, from my current home in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was a rather long process. If you add up all the time I spent in the air to get from Kindu, Maniema Province, DRC to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada it’s a short little 22 hours spent airborne spread over three short hops within DRC and three longer leaps from Rwanda to Kenya to the Netherlands to Canada.

First, I had to fly domestically from Kindu to Goma. I caught a ride on June 23rd on Busy Bee, a great little charter airline we often use. That flight touched down in Punia, then Lubutu, then landed in Goma.

En route from Kindu to Punia, one of many tributaries of the mighty Congo River:

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The pilot and co-pilot gave me permission to take this photograph on the ground in Punia:

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Just before landing in Lubutu:

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En route to Goma, North Kivu Province:

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Some of the wealthier residences in Goma are waterfront properties on Lake Kivu:

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After a few days in Goma, I caught a bus from the border to Kigali in Rwanda and a taxi from downtown to the Kigali airport, where I watched the World Cup football match in which Germany destroyed England. Rooney wasn’t very happy with his team’s lack of success:

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From Kigali I flew to Nairobi on Kenya Airways, which actually provides a small hot meal on this short (just over one hour) flight, much better than Canadian airlines such as Air Canada and Westjet who don’t give a meal on a four and a half hour flight from Vancouver to Toronto. Kenya Airways planes at the gates:

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I spent the night in Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) – many people tell horror stories that remind of trying to sleep in Stansted airport, but in JKIA if you head toward Gate 3, down some stairs from Gate 4, you’ll find the sleep n’ shower facilities which were very useful for me. Also, at Gate 14 there’s a coffee shop called Java House with very tasty espressos. Gaining altitude outside Nairobi:

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Nearly nine hours later, I landed in sunny Amsterdam, where I boarded a KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) flight for Vancouver. KLM planes on the tarmac:

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Direct flights from Europe to Vancouver always fly over the Arctic, as it’s the shortest route, so we got to see some white scenery over Greenland and northern Canada:

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Finally, we passed just to the south of Bowen Island and came in for the usual east-facing landing at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, with UBC on our left:

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On July 13th I left Vancouver to do the exact opposite flight route, which was much more tiring because of the lack of sleep, and when I arrived in Kindu yesterday (July 17th) I slept from 1:30pm until 9:30pm and from midnight to 6:00am today.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Some of the funniest things a traveller can find in many developing countries are signs. Here are a few of the funny or interesting ones I’ve seen so far:

At the Kindu airport MONUC base:

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Mobutu was deposed by a rebel army in 1997 after nearly 32 years as President of DR Congo. The rebel leader who became President was assassinated in 2001 and his son has been in power ever since, yet one of the main roads in Kindu is called Mobutu Boulevard and one of his sons is Minister of Agriculture.

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Back at the Kindu airport MONUC base:

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Note the swimmer in the pool, defying the rule:

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On a plane in Maniema Province:

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A pharmacy in Kisangani, Tshopo Province:

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The balance is a nearly universal symbol of justice. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the balance on this decaying building accurately reflects the situation in a country which has been receding instead of developing for the past few decades:

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Congo Canadiana

It may come a day late for Canada Day (July 1st), but I reckon a post is due on the topic of Canadiana here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Never before have I seen so many Canadian articles of second-hand clothing in a single place as I have since arriving in DRC in March. In Kindu, Lubutu, and Kisangani the Canadian clothes are everywhere. The first one I noticed was a shirt from a car dealership in Kelowna, and after that I saw dozens of Canadian shirts and hats, many with some sort of hockey connection.

Byeka, one of our drivers, has a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt:

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One of our guards has a Vancouver Canucks / Molson Canadian shirt:

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Another one of our guards sold me some Canadian money, which is not uncommon as they find it in the pockets of second-hand clothes. I had to explain to him that Canadian Tire money is not real money:

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A Nepean (was a city from 1978-2001 before becoming part of Ottawa) soccer jersey sported by one of our storekeepers, Gédéon:

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Omari, head guard, with a Calgary shirt:

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In Otiandumbo, (a tiny village) close to Omoyaki (a small village west of Lubutu in Obokote health zone), I met these guys who were supposed to be making bricks for a maternity to be built nearby. They were quite drunk, but friendly enough to let me take a photo with the Barrie Bulldogs hockey jersey. I got a real kick out of this one because my roommate in my first year of university was from Barrie:

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The head mechanic in Lubutu has several Canadian shirts, including one from Ontario Power:

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On the streets of Kindu and Lubutu, it’s very common to see Team Canada hockey jerseys (and indeed hockey jerseys from dozens of different minor and major hockey leagues).

But the kicker for me was when I saw a UBC Thunderbirds jersey in Lubutu one day. Sadly, we were in a hurry to get back to the office so I couldn’t get a photo. A couple weeks later, we were 70km from home on the drive back to Lubutu from Kisangani in the middle of nowhere in pitch black darkness, with driving rain and lightning, at a speed of about 60km/h when I noticed two people standing in the bushes to keep a safe distance as we passed. The UBC T-birds logo was clearly visible on the chest of one of the two! For a second time, I had missed my chance at a photo of a UBC T-birds jersey in the DR Congo.

Luck would swing my way the very next day, however, when we rented a truck and some daily workers to help unload a plane full of medical supplies and transport them to our medical depot. As we showed up to the airstrip and met up with the daily workers, I could hardly believe my eyes – one of them had the UBC T-birds jersey! He must have been the same guy I saw in Lubutu a couple weeks before, and the guy the previous night was someone else who also had a UBC sports jersey. Anyways, here’s proof that in a relatively remote area of the DRC there is a UBC T-birds jersey:

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