All One Congo : Kinshasa to Lomami

Which is more inscrutable?

I live in Kinshasa.

If you put your finger on the map at Kisangani (the town from which the dugout launches to go up the Lomami) and then you trace the Congo River first north and then around the long bend to the south, after 1500 km your finger will come to Kinshasa, village of 8 million, capital of the Congo – DR Congo. I live here.
my house
Our house/gîte was once, I think, a small colonial office for collecting river port taxes.
Georg and me at poids lourd
Often it is just me, with our Kin-mutt Georg, camped out on Poids Lourd Road, with both John and Ashley up the Lomami

WHY here?
I have to ask myself that sometimes –but the answer is obvious:
This is where we get the official papers to go up the Lomami
This is where we can lobby to protect TL2 effectively
This is where most of our collaborators have a base

Kinshasa is an urban village, sometimes humorous, always up-front , but entirely inscrutable.
Here is a little picture gallery of what I see in a perimeter of ½ km from my house every day.
mama in the shanties
From the shanties where they live, just around the corner, these mamas make a life selling street-lunch to day labor on Poids Lourd Road.
shanty town on the water
This off-shore shanty town constructed on abandoned barges is just behind my port-side house. That’s a fish-trap in the water in the foreground
river view towards my home
You can just see my river-view lookout between the two captain’s cabins on the docked, “Joseph Conrad” river barges. That is where I perch on top of an empty freight container in the atelier behind the house with an afternoon tea or evening Primus (local beer)

From my lookout I can watch the forest coming down river all day to the timber processing plant next door. It is very clear why the name of the road is Poids Lourd (heavy weight). Those timbers weigh.
poids lourd timber unloading
So far – TL2 forests are not in that pile. There are no concessions and our goal is to keep it that way.

My morning alarm is the train (5:45 AM is the first one) on its way towards center town. It brings singing, shouting, banging, general cacophony
Kinshasa train 3
First class has got to be the roof

It brings the workers to the timber processing plant next door
Calvin Klein on poids lourd
Perhaps Calvin Klein really has diversified into tropical timber — ?? Never know? all part of the inscrutability.
toking up on poids lourds
A worker pauses by the railway wall to toke up before entering the processing plant. It takes a bit of courage…
military police along poids lourd
The Poids Lourd military are unperturbed, inscrutable.

Much of the timber is for export and some is shipped out as logs.
the grumes down poids lourd
The forests of congo being carried down Poids Lourd, through Kinshasa and on to Matadi, the Atlantic port
poids lourd 3 pouspous1
And a lot of sawn planks are pushed off by local transport, “pous-pous”, for local use.
pouspous is local transport
Local “pous-pous” transport is half of Poids Lourd traffic and cause of its constant traffic jams

But the cacophony dies with the departing evening train.
Kinshasa trian 2
Train passes an evening soccer, “football”, match, ubiquitous in all open lots

And then I do have my corner of peace, me and the evening-singing palm thrush, and the cordon bleus, and the weavers and mannikins — and Georg
mornings are here
The epiphyte covered avocado tree stands sentry over my quiet lawn between brick walls.
This is where I live,
on Poids Lourd in Kinshasa:
A very peaceful place between 7 PM and 6AM
And always inscrutable.


  1. Posted 2008-04-18 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    That is a great post. This confirms me you are a total blogger now. 🙂

    And for all animal lovers, watch out, the dog here is dangerous! He bites, but Terese and John refuse to put him down.

    Also, there used to be a cat. BBC (bi Black Cat), but we suspect he was eaten by the guards. 🙂

  2. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-04-18 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The truth is the dear Georg growled at Wally and almost bit him yesterday. I intervened with appropriate rapid anger towards Georg and effusive apologies to Wally

  3. Posted 2008-04-19 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Terese, really enjoyed this post and your Georg (nice doggy!). Lessons here, for all of us, too. You never hear someone say, as they reflect on their life, “If only I had been nicer to my BMW”! Not much to be said for materialism. You have much to savor, you have done well. Thank you.

  4. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-04-20 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Yes, Theresa, no complaints about life. None at all. Georg is at my feet right now with an ear perked to all that is going on outside. No electricity by I share a “groupe” or generator with my neighbors and a wireless connection. Life is fine. And I am waiting for the next satellite email from John… interesting goings on in Obenge!

  5. Posted 2008-04-21 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, luxuries, are in the eye of the beholder but necessities are a different story. Would another generator help?

  6. Terese Hart
    Posted 2008-04-22 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    for right now our Kinshasa generator is fine — my neighbors are a bunch of clever bachelors that know how to fix up and maintain an old generator with a venerable roar. The effort has to go to the field. John sent some good info from Obenge — I will post today

  7. Nat
    Posted 2009-04-30 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tour of your neighborhood. Not quite so removed as Pigeon River or our Oregon retreat. but it’s great to have this sketch of your place. Keep well. Love to you and John.

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  1. […] specific post can be seen here. A sort of micro-tour of Kinshasa, the author – Dr. Therese Hart’s home, one is able to get a […]

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