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Today, I heard the words, “Welcome to the Congo”. They were from my host on the seat beside me after we arrived in the Congo. My host traveled to pick me up to Kigali Friday evening, and before our conversation had gone very far he told me he had come up by bus. Yes, the dreaded bus. Did I say bus? This is the mode of transportation here that would put fear in the eyes of Mario Andretti. I took this bus to Congo two years ago and determined that I would never use this form of transportation again as long as I lived. But here I was last night hearing the words from my host that he had come to pick me on the bus. I couldn’t believe it. I told him to pick me up by private car. I was afraid of the bus, didn’t he understand?
No, he did not understand. So this morning at 3:45 AM I awoke to the prospect of another hair-raising bus ride from Kigali to the Bukavu region of the Congo with my French speaking host. This is the definition of hell on wheels. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy. Crammed into a 21 passenger diesel powered tube with 26 Congo-bound natives with enough luggage to sink the Titanic is anybody’s worst nightmare. I did it again this morning. And unless the Lord shows me another way to get back on Thursday morning, it’s gonna be twice in five days.
Beside my unfortunate mode of transportation, I am safely in a Congolese hotel about a mile from the border crossing into Rwanda. My stay here has been condensed by my host to three days of class instead of five. I will wrap the class on Wednesday evening and do the bus thing back on Thursday morning. My hotel room is quite rustic but functional. The water levels are low in the Congo this season and so my bathroom is equipped with two large basins of water to both flush the toilet and to shower. I will request hot water from “Julius” my room man this evening for a “hot” shower. You already know the routine, so I won’t bore you. Sometime before then, I hope to eat my first meal of the day. We’ll see. My host is off somewhere, and since he has left me here I have slept and have sat down here to correspond with you. I hope you have had a good day. Mine could have been better, but hey, it could have been a lot worse. I will worship tomorrow and get ready for Monday. I have arrived in the Congo.