Thursday, 9 January 2014

Congo Cultural Tour...

One of the Hospital Chaplaincy day crew (formerly known as day workers) organised a cultural tour of the Congo last Saturday. (4th January 2014.) I'm only here for a month and want to see as much of the Congo as possible, so I signed up for this activity. (Of course, I'm here working in Reception serving the crew, but on my days off I want to see sights and be productive.)

There were twenty of us Mercy Shippers who packed into a bus and headed out into Pointe-Noire. We first drove to Barzach's (the Chaplaincy day crew member) house and met some of her family members and neighbours. We were shown cassava plants, which are a popular carbohydrate crop grown throughout West and Central Africa.

We then drove out into the countryside, heading away from the city in a southerly direction towards Angola. We passed a large Total oil refinery, and shortly afterwards stopped by the side of the road to buy some maboké. This is a fish stew that is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on hot coals. I decided to be adventurous and bought one for my lunch!

From there we went to Mboussou, a village in the middle of the jungle, where Barzach grew up. We visited the local church and sang some worship songs there. The Pastor and church leaders also prayed a blessing over our work individually and as Mercy Ships. We were able to bless the community with an offering towards the construction of the church. It was very special.

By now it was time for lunch, and so we headed to Lake Cayo. Here we sat on the jetty and ate our lunch overlooking the waves. My liboké (singular form of maboké) was delicious! We had to be careful as we ate our lunch above the lake - there are crocodiles!

We then drove back towards the main road, and turned left and went to Nzassi, Congo's border town with Angola. Here we briefly looked across at Angola's Cabinda province, before turning around and going to Malonda Lodge, a beach resort, where we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.

We came back to the ship via Pointe-Noire's Grande Marché (the main market - the photo here shows a bread stall), after a very interesting cultural tour of Pointe-Noire and the surrounding areas. It was a great day's outing - and one which I can highly recommend to any other Mercy Shipper! :-)

Taxis waiting for passengers under the shade of a very cool tree.
Barzach's home.
Cassava wrapped up and ready for eating.
Cemetery by the side of the road. The enclosed graves must be for important people.
Total oil refinery. There is a lot of wealth in the Congo!
Oil refinery.
Fire trucks at the refinery.
Road construction in the jungle.
Laundry day at the river.
Lush greenery at the village.
Very cool colours on this leaf.
Edible fruit growing on this plant.
Hungry goats.
The village church.
Lake Cayo.
Maboké for lunch.
It may not look too appetising, but it tasted delicious!
Unlucky fish.
Children wave farewell as we drive through a village.
Fruit and vegetable stands by the side of the road.
Corn and brinjal/aubergine/eggplant on a table.
Mangoes and palm nuts.
Bottles of palm wine.
The view from Malonda Lodge.
This seaplane was practicing landing approaches over the lagoon. It would skim the water before pulling up again.
The lagoon near the beach.
The whole group.
Safely back on the ship after a day of adventure!

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