Usually one goes through several ‘stations’ before passing into the airport proper where you check your bags and move into the waiting area (such as getting our ‘go’ pass/tax). This time, a few people went straight through with the bags, and bikes, while the rest of us stayed in an outside waiting area. After about an hour… we learned what was happening: seems that they had an issue with the bikes. Rather than keep the bikes in a nice, easy to carry and transport box, they tore open the box and re-wrapped the individual bike parts! Some were put in smaller bags, then taped over and over again, while other parts were just taped. I can only assume that they wanted us to pay extra for ‘individual’ bags/parts, rather than a smaller amount for one large box.
We also had a elder forget his ID in his bag, and other problems. But there is one thing about the Congo, every problem can be resolved with money. After we were finally permitted to enter the main terminal, and were waiting for our baggage claim slips, we watched a person try to get through final security without ID. After lots of back and forth, a simple passing of money to the ‘right’ person, and off they went into the secure area to wait for the plane (our plane!). I was rather shocked… for a moment… because next thing I knew our group was ushered through security with no stopping or checking! Not sure what happened there, but, this is the Congo, and you must learn to go with the flow!
After arriving at Mbuji Mayi, we went through another disturbing process: we were forced to give up our passports to an officer. Normally, we are reluctant to give our passport to anyone– at least anyone who takes them out of sight. In this instance a man standing at the door as you enter the air terminal (after walking around several planes on the Tarmac), simply took your passport and told you to move on! Now, there were a lot of people at the airport, and even though we are white and stand-out a little, we wondered if they would find us and give us our passports back– because we were also ushered OUT of the air terminal, to wait in the parking lot!
To our relief, both our bags and our passports made it back into our hands. I have to assume there were members, or helpers of some kind aiding our transit through the airport!
As soon as we arrived we discovered that there was a sick elder (he had a high fever) waiting for Terri. She was quickly able to give him some medicine, and his fever came down rather quickly.
We did not have time to see much of the city, as we immediately drove to Mwene Ditu.
We were reading the magazine on Congo Airlines and came across this unusual meal:
Grasshoppers, crickets, and catapillers! Yum!!
For those who want to fully experience the Congo lifestyle, I have copied the recipe for you! Let me know what you think!
I know how true this little article is! The Congo has many beautiful places to visit, but having driven to Laputa twice (one of the ‘better’ roads), I doubt anyone will be able to see the full scope of this country via road!