Kin la Belle

‘What’s that?’ asked the lady next to me on the plane. ‘Ice cream’ I replied. ‘Oh, but how can you eat it?’ she exclaimed, ‘it is so cold!’

Kinshasa appeared below us, fading in the dusky grey light that began to enfold it like a warm blanket as night descended. We were ushered upon arrival into a bustling arrivals hall where porters appeared instantly at our side, offering their services to find and collect our bags, a tempting offer as we watched the crowd before us surge towards the baggage carousel.

Released finally into the humid evening air with our bags which had remained elusive until the very last truck was unloaded, we found our driver and attempted to politely dissuade the enthusiastic porters who clung to us and our bags until they were loaded into the vehicle, waiting until the very end before they let us leave the car park.

The streets were bustling as if it were market day on the streets of Kinshasa as we made our way through the city late in the evening. A city that never sleeps!

It was just as busy the next day as we set off for our first meeting, crossing junctions by edging through four lanes of traffic and trying to take in the heat. As the day wore on, the heat got closer and the traffic too.

Traffic lights are ‘robots’ here, and one such actually was (see picture). I am not sure if this is a tongue in cheek addition to the city, but it brightened up the journey home!

Temperatures were rising and the heat seemed to push in from all sides. I thought back to the ice cream on the plane and daydreamed of cool air. Then, the heat finally broke as we headed to bed, the heavens opened and the thrumming of the rain on the ground outside welcomed me again to Africa and lulled me to sleep.

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