“Sixty-Seven! Sixty-Seven!”


1. We left a little after 5:00 one morning, watched the sunrise while looking across the mountains, layers of hazy peaks, a river snaking between the hills. It was gorgeous, the sun coming up slowly, the light hitting the muddy road, the little houses with corrugated metal roofs and mud walls, and then the valley below. Breathtaking.

2. Our work wrapped up one evening with Luke and Evan filming a Congolese soccer practice. While we waited for them, a group of kids surrounded our van and tried to talk to us. Some of them came up with little birds in their hands, and Luke and Evan returned and took some pictures. Later that evening, I told Luke I hoped he hadn’t touched the birds when he was taking a picture of them, and after I said that I noticed Evan’s eyes were nearly bugging out of his head. “Why not touch them?!” he asked. I told him because first, birds are really dirty, and second, they might have the bird flu. That’s when Evan told us one had flown on him while he was filming. The look on his face still made me laugh days later. (If he does get the bird flu, I promise to feel guilty, but his expression was priceless.)

3. There is a cat at the guest house that we’ve named Edgar. Our first day here, we had the door open and he walked right in and started meowing at us. Later that night, Robin and I opened a window in our bedroom, and I turned around to tuck in my mosquito net. When I turned back around, Edgar was sitting on the floor of our room, just staring at me, cocking his little striped head to the side. He has a tendency to stare in the creepiest way, but the more time we spend here the more I like him.

4. Sunday we ate ice cream at a nunnery in the hills, surrounded by some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve seen–enormous hydrangeas, exploding bougainvillea, birds of paradise. It was one of the most peaceful places I’ve been. Then we drove home, passing two men fighting in the streets of one village.

5. Once, we were walking through a field next to crumbling brick buildings without roofs when a crazy man started following us, shouting, “Good morning how are you!” and then “Sixty-seven! Sixty-seven!” We walked a little quicker, and he just walked behind us, yelling, “Sixty-seven!” I felt like I was in an episode of Lost–next season, we’ll learn that sixty-seven is really the secret to some deep and important mystery. But until then, only our crazy friend will know the significance of the number.

6. I have not been feeling so great the past two days. I’ve decided if I have a parasite, I will name him Bill. Probably it’s just some kind of bacteria. If there’s no improvement, I think I’ll start some Cipro tomorrow.

7. When it rains, the dirt becomes mud, and the mud becomes extremely sticky, and your shoes become weighted and ugly and gigantic. Sometimes the mud sticks to itself so much it’s like walking with snowshoes. I am incredibly glad I took Jesse’s advice and bought a sturdy pair of waterproof hiking boots.

8. Tonight, we rode in a “bus” from one side of the city to the other, sixteen people crammed into a small van, Congolese rap music playing on the stereo, the speakers crackling. And then “Bartender” thrown into the mix, T-Pain singing about meeting some girl in a bar after a breakup.

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