After we said goodbye to our kids’ birth family member, our interpreter told us that our attorney felt terrible about what had happened to us the day before. He wanted to make it up to us by paying for an outing for us to the river.
Um, no thanks.
Leaving the convent unnecessarily had recently fallen into the “over my dead body,” category. Pretty literally.
Our interpreter insisted. The attorney wanted us to have a good time at the expense of the agency.
I wanted to live.
I said no. Ken said no.
Finally, our interpreter told us that we really didn’t have a choice. He is the director of the program in the Congo, and the trip was not optional.
Well, what’s almost dying one MORE time?
Soon we packed up and headed out with our kids and the other family.
We headed to a museum that overlooks the Congo river, walked around, and took a few pictures. Then we all piled back in the car, but rather than heading back to the convent, we headed in the opposite direction.
I was immediately on edge.
We drove a few miles on a very nice road, and then we turned down a small road that passed between two high walls.
On the other side of the walls, it was a different world. The streets were narrow and there were 50 gallon burn barrels lining the street, and dozens of people milling about next to the cars and darting across. The street was one lane, so it was very easy for the car to get trapped among the crowds of people closing in on us. On the homes and shops surrounding us, there were no windows or doors, pieced together with whatever garbage was found. The dust rose from the roads as we jostled over the bumps. The further we traveled, the more the roads seemed to close in on us.
Ken leaned over to me and whispered, “Isn’t this a scene from Blackhawk Down?”
I leaned back over and said, “I guess this is how we’re going to die.”
After winding through the narrow neighborhood streets, we finally came to a parking lot, where there were two monkeys tied up. We were told to get out of the car. The kids thought the monkeys were hilarious. We were just hoping that they weren’t dinner. Even more so, we were hoping we weren’t dinner.
We were led down a narrow path, and the scene opened up to a very nice restaurant with a swimming pool overlooking the Congo river.
It was . . . beautiful.
The sun was just beginning to set, and we sat and drank Fantas while the rush of the water behind us soothed the fears we had created in our own mind.
We left after a short time, traveling back down those same narrow and crowded streets, and headed back to the convent, being dropped off again after sunset — so we ate ramen noodles and beef jerky for dinner.
We were told by our interpreter that though even if our exit letters would be ready the next day (Friday), our attorney had a wedding to attend, and wouldn’t be able to pick them up. Our hopes to leave the Congo over the weekend were dashed.
As we decided to trade off nights sleeping next to Addie Rose, our tiny fighter, so we could trade sleepless nights, one thought ran through my mind: As nice as the outing had ended up, we just want to go home.