The day after the sushi party was a lock down. We were advised not to leave the premises of the British compound we were staying on, as June 30th is DR Congo’s Independence Day. This meant there was a possibility that things could get a little out of hand, especially for foreigners.
Naturally, we decided to take it easy that day, as it was impossible for us to get to the orchestra rehearsal site anyway. To be honest, it was kind of a nice excuse to relax after hosting the award-winning party of the year. (see Sushi Party blog)
The compound we were staying on had both a tennis court and a swimming pool, so we got to see some of the folks we had met the previous night, by the pool. There was a field hockey tournament being held on the tennis court that day as well, hosted by the Canadians (yet another sight I never quite imagined seeing in Kinshasa, but really, why keep score?). At this point, I think both Kaori and I were beginning to accept that we were going to see/hear/face the unexpected here, whether we were driving down the street or just hanging out by the house!
After all, we had hoped to arrive in Kinshasa Thursday, but we didn’t actually get there until Friday. Our plan was to start working with the orchestra musicians on Monday, but we needed to cancel those plans as well due to a lock down. We could allow ourselves to get upset or stressed out, but we chose to just make the best of things, and learned to think more flexibly. This was our research trip anyway. If we had any hopes of starting a sustainable program here, we were going to have to start learning about the different kinds of hurdles we would face, and not let them get to us. Maybe it starts with watching a bunch of sweaty, shirtless Canadians intensely playing field hockey on a tennis court at the British Embassy compound in Kinshasa, a day after you throw a Sushi party to which the British Ambassador comes, as well as people from the Japanese Embassy, the US Embassy, and many other people from all over the world working for various NPOs and NGOs, all choosing to live in Kinshasa to do lots of amazing work!
More than driving through Kinshasa to get to the lake, getting bitten by ants (ants and coasters), seeing strange bugs, or meeting locals at the vegetable stand, talking to our party guests and watching those Canadians play Field Hockey stretched my thinking. Perhaps it was because they were easier for me to relate to. Maybe it just takes a few days before you can even attempt to think about a place like Kinshasa.
All I know is I went to bed that night, feeling very lucky to be in Kinshasa with Kaori, and super excited about finally being able to meet the orchestra musicians the next day!