Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I ♥ scrappy friends

... especially if they go on trips, visit scrappy stores while there and bring me back a little something. ;)

My friends, Marlo & Mary, went to Fargo last month and brought me back a sheet of Fancy Pants patterned paper. Aren't they sweet? Here's what I made with it:

I used Bazzill cardstock, Scenic Route and October Afternoon letter stickers, Prima flowers, Basic Grey buttons and a WRMK stamp.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My trip to Congo, days 10 & 11

On Wednesday, Feb. 24th, we had somewhat of a free day, so we decided to visit the Artist's Market to pick up some souvenirs. I had already purchased a carved giraffe and elephant from an artist who sells his work at M.P.H. (our hostel). But I wanted to find a third one, so I could give one each to my kids. I was hoping for a lion or cheetah, but when I saw a black rhino, I knew it would be perfect for Jonah.

I also bought two wooden bracelets there. Otherwise, I just helped Ken barter for stuff. ;)
The sellers were quite funny. In Congo, people are addressed as "Maman" ("Mom" in french) or "Papa" ("Dad" in french) , instead of ma'am or sir. I had gotten used to this and had received quite a few smiles when I used the terms, and then people would call me "Maman", too. The sellers, however, were calling me "Mommy." "Mommy, come here. Come look! Just looking!" And then a few called me "Honey!" which I thought was hilarious!

After the market, we decided to visit the Kinshasa Zoo. It cost us $0.70 US each to get in and we purchased glass bottles of Coke and Fanta for $0.30 each.

The zoo, however, was quite depressing. Bare cages with rusty metal and nothing for the animals to do. Very sad, really. We did see a few neat animals, though...

An old crocodile they called Madame Antoinette after the former first-lady of Kinshasa:

A monitor lizard:

Some interesting monkeys:

This last guy was sticking his hands out of the cage with a "come on" motion. We couldn't figure out what he wanted at first. Then it dawned on us-- he wanted some of our pop!

My favourite animal in the zoo was this leopard-- isn't he gorgeous?

After the zoo, we went back to M.P.H. to pick up Dennis, who'd passed on the field trip, as he wasn't feeling very well. I wasn't really either, so when the guys went to meet some Manitoban missionaries for lunch, I passed and stayed at M.P.H. to rest.

For supper, we returned to the Bon Berger clinic area to have supper with Delphin and his wife, Regina, and their family. We had taken two cabs there with a guide, but on the way back we decided to take one back and four of us squeezed into the back of a taxi. Talk about getting close with our team! LOL!

Thursday was our last day in Kinshasa, with our flight scheduled to leave at 10pm. We had to take our bags to Air France in the morning, so we did that, with a stop at TexAfrica, a fabric store where I got six yards of fabric for less than $5 US. (I'm planning on making a sarong or wrap-around skirt with some of it, and maybe something for Sage, too. After dropping off our luggage, we walked around a little downtown, trying to find a restaurant. We did find a Kin-Mart, which was kind of like a London Drugs. They had ice cream and chocolate bars and everything! I said it was a good thing that I didn't know about that store beforehand, otherwise I would have wanted to go there often! ;)

Our driver, Philippe, took us to a restaurant where we could get hamburgers, but it wasn't very good. The atmosphere was like a pink ice cream shop!

I asked Ken to take a picture of Len and I, because we had such a great time together on the trip. We would start off a lot of our sentences with "There we were..." and then proceed to dramatize whatever situation we were in. Lots of laughing, lots of fun!

We went back to M.P.H. for the afternoon. We were hoping to go swimming at the american school across the street, but that didn't work out. So we hung out at the hostel.

We left for the airport at 5pm, which was an adventure in itself. We almost got hit by another vehicle (it came within inches of my sideview mirror!) and witnessed another accident. When we stopped for gas, a man with a bag of apples on his head sold me one. According to Philippe, it was from South Africa and it was the best apple I'd ever tasted!

The airport was crazy, again. We made it through customs, etc, with no problems and Dennis, because he was flying first class, was allowed to hang out in the Executive area, which was very nice and airconditioned. Ken and Len managed to get in there, too, but for some reason, Konrad and I got kicked out! (I did sneak back in there briefly to use the bathroom, because the regular one was unusable-- seriously. Broken toilet seats, etc. Absolutely frightening. And to top it off, two women sat outside the door, requesting that people pay them for the honour of using the facilities. No thank you!)

My time in Congo came to an end when our flight departed without any problems.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My trip to Congo, days 8 & 9

On Monday, February 22nd, we left Kikwit and flew back to Kinshasa. We checked back in at M.P.H., but this time with a bit of an upgrade. The manager of the hostel had told me that I could have room 14, which was the room between the one I'd stayed in the previous week and the bathroom. I was a little sad, because I'd really liked where we'd stayed in Kikwit and wasn't looking forward to being back at M.P.H. So, I asked if there were any rooms with its own bathroom. Yes, he said, room 9. I asked how much more this would cost a night and he said $10. I turned to Konrad and said, if I paid the extra out of my own pocket, could I stay there? Konrad became my friend for life when he said I could stay there anyway. I went up to check out my new room and guess what else it had? Air-conditioning! What joy! What bliss! It also had lots of ants, but I totally ignored them and them me. ;)

I then asked Colongé if they had another room like that for the men. Well, they had a suite that slept three, but they could add a bed AND they would also have air-conditioning and a living-room area for us to hang out in. The bonus: our new sleeping arrangements ended up costing us $10 less a night than what we'd paid the previous week! Nice!

Maurice invited us to his home for a tour and a meal on Monday.

For supper, we ate at M.P.H. and hung out in the guys' room, emailing home, etc.

Tuesday was probably my least favourite day in the Congo. Dennis had been asked by someone from MBMSI to visit a farm, so we all went along. (In fairness to Dennis, he did tell me I didn't need to go since John spoke english, but I thought it would be boring to stay at M.P.H. by myself, so I tagged along.) Well, it was three hours of riding in the back of a truck, followed by scenes like this:

...piling out of the truck to look at a field. Then climbing back into the truck, driving for a bit and piling out again.... Very long, hot and boring. And I started to feel a little car sick, which wasn't fun.

A cool thing happened on the way back. There was this "stand" under this massive bamboo tree, with tables and benches set up. They sold cold drinks (yay!) and fou-fou wrapped in leaves (we passed on those!) It was like a Congolese version of an ice cream stand that we'd stop at on a day back from the lake or something. I would have taken pictures, but a government official and his entourage showed up at the same time that we did and we didn't want to get in trouble.

The best part of the day however, was our supper meal. We met another John, a missionary also staying at the hotel, at a restaurant called Nando's. Walking in there was like leaving Congo and returning to North America. It was a portuguese chain that was decorated similarly to Kelsey's or Applebees. I ordered a chicken pita with cucumbers and tomatoes-- it was so yummy!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My trip to Congo, day 7

Our seventh day in Congo was a Sunday. We went to Edgard's church.

We got there at 10am, but they'd been singing since 9am. After we got there, the worship singing stopped and their choirs sang. They had a youth choir, a ladies' choir, and a men's choir, who all sang several times. All of the songs were in Kicongo, so we couldn't understand any of it.

For the offering, the women formed a line and did a dance step all the way to the back of the church and then up to the front to put their money in the basket. They were all smiling and just seemed thrilled to have me join in-- what a hoot!

I presented a soccer ball to their Sunday school program from our Sunday school program, which was cool.

I fell in love with this door at BTEDE. They certainly love colour in Congo.

There was a lunch for us at church and then we went back to BTEDE and met with the team there. For supper, we told the team that we'd take them out for supper. When Edgard was dropping us off, he asked me what I'd like for supper. "French fries!" I told him. He said they didn't have fries in Kikwit and I said that was fine. I'd wait for Kinshasa.

But when he came to pick us up for supper, he told me that he'd found fries for me. I was hesitant to believe him because he's a bit of a tease, but sure enough, we went to sit at an outisde cafe by the river and nearby, they ordered some fries.

He'd asked me what I wanted to put on my fries. "Ketchup?" No, no ketchup. "Gravy?" No, no gravy. "Okay, what could I put on my fries, Edgard?" "Chicken?" he said. Sure, I could put chicken on my fries! LOL!

Here's a picture of my meal:

Edgard also had fries but didn't like them, so I offered to trade him my chicken for his fries. He jumped at the offer! (By the way, the red stuff isn't ketchup, it's that hot, hot sauce the Congolese like. The white sauce was mayo, which was perfect on these fries!)

Here are Dado and Brigitte. They are such lovely women!

Some of the views from where we sat:

And a picture of Konrad, me, Getrude (the wife of Jean-Paul, who works for BTEDE), Dennis and Len.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A couple of layouts to share....

This first one I created for the March DT challenge at MSS, which was to use small photos on your page. I've been carrying these precious photos of my lovelies in my wallet for four years and felt it was maybe time for an update. So, of course, I had to scrapbook them!

And this other layout I created last night. It's part of my Congo album. I journal about how it took until Toronto for the fact to sink in that I was actually going to the Congo-- something I'd dreamed about for years was actually becoming a reality.

I posted a little tip about this layout on the MSS blog today, if you'd like to check it out.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My trip to Congo, day 6

On day six, we had breakfast at BTEDE, then piled into the back of the truck to visit the other experimental seed farm they run-- this one was in a rainforest. I think there were nine of us in the back of the truck on the way there. Most of the way was paved.

This is what the trucks in the Congo look like-- totally overloaded with stuff. I guess the idea is if you have a truck, then you haul as much as you can with it!

I took some pictures of people along the way there....

When we turned off the highway, we had about two kilometres of road going through the rainforest. From the back of the truck, it felt quite bumpy and winding. Ken rode standing on the back bumper and later said it was better that we couldn't see the road as we went. I guess there was one part where it was a sheer drop on either side. Thank You, God, for keeping us safe!

Lunch in the rainforest.

Konrad had requested fish.

Then we got a tour of the farm.

Here I'm trying a plant they call macaroni-- it was quite tasty!

These girls were pounding the cassava into flour. They had such a great rhythm going!

A group photo in part of the rainforest they're clearing.

An eggplant.

A termite mound.

As we were driving into the rainforest, I'd asked Brigitte if we'd see any monkeys or leopards, etc. She replied that the animals had all left when the machines came in to build the road. I then asked if there were snakes. She said yes, but she'd never seen any.

Well, when we came to the end of our tour, we saw this...

It was a red mambo snake, which is actually poisonous! Quite the sighting, I'd say!

On our way out of the rainforest, they stopped to let us out before trying to get up this hill (the one with the sheer drops on both sides!) Castro (in red) ran along with the truck. He was the hand brake. If the truck started rolling backwards for any reason, his job was to put a large rock behind the tire to keep it from rolling back down! Good thing that didn't happen!

Following the truck up the hill.

Coming back to Kikwit, we stopped for some reason, I'm not sure why. But when we did, the vendors approached the vehicle to sell us their wares. Ken and I bought some little woven purses (I gave one to Sage.)

Thanks for looking!
I really appreciate your kind comments!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Look what I did tonight....

I broke a board at tae kwon do tonight, using a back spin kick. :)
Thanks to Austin for taking the pictures.