I'm so tired but I'm writing this anyway
I'm really tired after such a long and busy weekend, so if this entry lacks my usual attempt at wit, that's why.
So Friday was 4th of July. Happy 4th of July to everyone, by the way. I've never been that into 4th of July, and this weekend was probably the most I've ever done to celebrate it. Suprisingly, fireworks were not a part of it. So like I said in my previous entry, there was a big party at the Ambassador's house, with probably about 1000 people. It was, of course, invite only, and to get invited you either had to be very high up in the DRC government or be very connected in the international community in Kinshasa. It was a lot of schmoozing and mingling, and mostly U.S. ppl were catching up with their contacts in the Congolese government. It wasn't very fun, except for the free food.
After the party ended, we went out to this bar/club called Ibiza Bar, which is arguably the best club in Kinshasa. It is frequented by expats, because who else can afford to pay for $12 beers? That's right, TWELVE DOLLARS. I don't know if I've already said this, but it is REALLY expensive for expats to live here. In any case, I have to say that it was pretty much the most fun I've ever had at a club, ever, mostly because of the music. There was a live band, and they were pretty much phenomenal. They played sorta a mixture of jazz and funk, and Congolese music. I had heard that the Congo is (although not as much as it used to be) basically the heart of African music, but I'm really starting to see not only how wonderful the music is and but also how it is such an important part of the culture. That's right, me Mrs. Classical is saying that I REALLY like Congolese music. I mean, I could really get into this stuff. Anyway, after Ibiza we went to ths other place called la Creche, which was more of club for locals. It had the worst speaker system I've ever heard in my life, and I'm pretty sure it caused permanent hearing loss to anyone within a half-mile radius. Needless to say, we didn't say too long.
Okay, so the next day, the 5th, was the independence day party for all Americans and their families in Kinshasa at the Ambassador's house. It was mostly just a day to relax and have fun with the American community. The pool was open, people were playing tennis, there was a talent show, lots of food, a bake-off. My fellow interns REALLY wanted to win the talent show and the bake-off, because of the $100 gift certificates prize to the best pizza place in Kinshasa! They put together this sort of Pan-African dance peformance, I guess you could say. Anyway, I was watching them rehearse without music and I was like, uhh, you guys need music, what me to drum? And they were like sure! So I just tried to keep an easy beat for them on the djembe (which someone loaned to us). Here's the link of the performance, I think it turned out pretty well, actually, and it seemed to get a good response from the crowd. We did miss up a bit though, it wasn't totally together. But anyway it was really fun practicing and putting it together with the other interns...they even made their own costumes!
Like I said, I also entered the talent show. The keyboard was actually really nice, like probably the best keyboard I've ever seen or played on. It had really great touch sensitivity and pedal. To make a long story short, I ended up winning (so we did win the prize), but I would have preferred that we win as a group. I don't think I handled it very well, because I probably should have said, nah, my group really wins, or I dunno, something like that. I hope I didn't look obnoxious.
Anyway, that night 3 of us went out again, to this house party with a ton of U.N. and E.U. people, plus any other expats who are in Kinshasa for one reason or another. Since this community isn't very big, I was told that usually the same 50-100 show up. It had a very euro feel, with techno trance music and sangria, and it was obviously thrown by euro trash. Most of the people there were in the their late 20s early thirties, so I was by far the youngest, the least mature, and the one with the least amount of life experience. Not only am I 20, but I don't even have a job here really, and most of the people there are well-experienced diplomats and humanitarians. In any case, I obviously haven't been to a lot of adult parties.... And for those of you who know me, and I know Cassie especially thinks this, I'm afraid of talking to adults (strange adults), or to people older than me. For some reason I act really awkward around them or just generally ridiculously immature. I guess it is mostly because I haven't had a lot of experience talking to people twice my age, and as Kate says, I have the mentality of a 12-year old boy, so this poses a problem. I thought I dealt with my "phobia" pretty well, and I think I'm learning some important social life skills. Like sometimes you have to talk to people you don't want to, put on an interested facade, and listen to conversations about things you don't know or care about. Plus, in the real world, not everyone is withint 4 years of your age bracket. Sometimes you have to socialize with someone 10, 20, 30, 40 years older than you. It is something that I am not all used to or comfortable with, so this experience is a good time to face my fear! (I'm starting ot get really so if I'm incoherent sorry.) i met a bunch of people, like...for example, I talked to a Nigerian who went to Cambridge, a Korean guy who owns a cellphone business in Kinshasa, and a former armyman who is engaged to classical pianist from Salmanca, Spain. Pretty cool, huh? I guess ppl older than me can be interesting.
So then today, we rented a bunch of boats with people, and went to a great sandbar in the Congo River. The river is HUGE, or at least the part we were at, and it feels like an ocean. The water, was great, the food, the peopleNow I can say I swam in the Congo River. It was a really relaxing, typical day at the beach, so I had to keep reminding myself where I was, exactly. Living this lifestyle, you kinda forget who you are, where you are, what you're doing and why you're doing it. You kinda have to remind yourself of these things constantly. While I was at Ibiza bar, it was hard to believe that so much poverty and suffering was just right next-door, and you kinda have to remind yourself of the reality of the situation. What I'm describing is by no means the "real" Congo, just to make that clear. I'll be trying to add pictures from this weekend tomorrow. I got some great ones! Goodnight!