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Saturday, April 19, 2008

In A Rush

Just popping in to say goodbye, I'm off to Africa for two weeks and I'll try to keep you posted via the comments if and when I get the chance and can find half a decent internet connection. Sorry for not blogging this week, but my computer was in shambles and I had to re-install it completely. We went to the zoo of Planckendael today with Wolf and my brother and it was very nice. Wolf and I had a blast on the swing and the slide and we saw lot of animals as you do in a zoo. I'll miss him very very very very very much. And Mrs.B too of course (as always).

Posted by Bart at 7:56 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How's The View Up There?

I'm leaving for Africa again next Sunday, to the increasingly Democratic Republic of Congo. So let's have some more photos of my last trip...

Kids waiting in the hospital of Mushenge  

Woman in hospital with young boy with banana  

Mobile phone pylon in construction  

Landlines are few and far between, and generally useless. But with the advent of mobile phones, things are improving fast. Here you see how those pylons are built: completely by hand and without any gimmicks such as tower cranes or trucks. A team of labourers (the guys in front) hoist the individual pieces up with those cables you see hanging down.

Congolese labourers building a mobile phone mast  

Another team builds the pylon. Note that they are not secured or anything. If they fall they're dead. Should they somehow survive their fall, they have to be carried on a bike to the nearest hospital. But with lack of just about anything, from medicines to anaestetics or even skilled staff, their chances are very slim at best.

Mother with children in medical centre in Congo  

Woman with twin baby girls in Congo  

Newborn baby twin girls, who clearly know how to keep their mother busy. Look how pooped she is!

Production of maniok seedlings in Congo  

Apart from medical institutions, we also visited an agricultural project. This is a field in the middle of the rain forest, where maniok seedlings are produced. Maniok is a staple food here. I tasted it on several occasions, but I can't say I like it. Generally, you get these bowls of maniok paste, or 'foufou' with your fish or chicken (if you're rich enough to pay for meat of fish). You can also eat the leaves, they taste much like spinach.

Cultivating here is no easy feat: it's an endless battle against the rain forest, that sends legions of ferns that have to be removed by hand. The man clear the forest away, the women are then responsible for the fields. It's back-breaking work, and it doesn't pay well.

Old congolese man near Mweka - Eastern Kasaï province  

Once the forest is cleared, the men mainly 'supervise'.

Posted by Bart at 8:15 PM
Edited on: Sunday, April 13, 2008 8:16 PM
Categories: Framed, The intrepid explorer

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tearing Down The Walls

Official confirmation that I’m not dead. My absence in blogland is due to the fact that the new DIY-season has started – which is perhaps a fate worse than death. Not that I’m hammering away 24 hours a day, but the place I’m currently refurbishing (read: slamming to pulp) is the room where my computer was located. So obviously I had to move it, and the only empty spot I found was in our bedroom, right next to the baby’s bed. And as we all know, babies sleep a helufalot – even when their daddies break down walls – so the access to my computational entertainment device is currently heavily restricted.

My father and brother helped me this weekend remove the fake wood panelling on the walls. As usual, the previous owners had secured every little piece of wood or panelling with nine inch nails. We crammed our nearly new car with all the debris and drove to the recycling yard, but half of our second carload was refused because the container for ‘inflammable construction waste’ was stuffed to the rim.

I also devised a revolutionary new way to remove wall paper: tear down the wall – build new wall – hang new wallpaper. No more mucking about with wall paper remover or steam dispensers. Just a solid hammer and you’re good to go. Apart from two walls, I also tore out two ceilings.

I only suffered minor injuries, three blows to the head to be exact, so nothing vital was hit. I succeeded in preventing any irrational outbursts of anger by ventilating my feelings in a positive way through the complete and utter destruction of the innate pieces of junk that caused my pain, swearing so loud that the neighbours’ kids have to go in therapy. But otherwise, work is progressing just fine.

Posted by Bart at 8:20 PM
Categories: Home Improvement

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