Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Abrupt Change Of Plans! Congo Out, Kyrgyzstan in!

   I woke up Friday morning thinking I was leaving that day for the Congo. Much to my surprise, as soon as I had checked my email i discovered I was in fact going to Kyrgyzstan! And not until a day later (ie today).

   Congo has been quite the odyssey. I first got pitched the project last year but my schedule was full. I forwarded it on to some colleagues all of whom said no, Congo seemed far too unsafe. (The daily security update notes civil unrest in DRC just about every single day)

   This year someone mentioned Congo was still out there so I contacted the recruiter and they jumped on me with almost alarming eagerness. It seems in the last year they had not been able to find anyone crazy enough to travel into the interior of the Democratic Republic of Congo to teach beekeeping.

   As it happens its actually hard to get into Congo on a bureaucratic level -- it takes a really long time to get a visa, with, for example, among other things, an invitation letter from the local host in the field having to be notorized by the local mayor and stamped by the Congolese Department of Foreign Affairs. And the Congolese embassy griped that it was stamped rather than signed and that then the dates were wrong. And the introduction letter from the Organization was originally addressed to the Washington DC embassy and had to be reissued with a changed "to" line for the embassy in London. So the project was at one point on the books for June but kept getting pushed back as the visa proved longer and longer to get.

   When they asked for another letter to be reissued two weeks ago we determined that there wasn't enough time to get the visa, asked for the passport back (it was in London and I'm in Melbourne, recall), and at that point I thought the project was cancelled. At that point I contacted the Kyrgyzstan people, with the same organization, and said maybe I could do the Kyrgyzstan project they had recently asked me about after all ... but the next day I found out that Congo was BACK on, they thought they could get the visa in Congo itself.

   This past week we had flight reservations on hold and everything was prepped to go awaiting the very 11th hour approval of the visa. As mentioned I was supposed to leave on Friday, and on Thursday it was still provisionally a go go. On Friday morning as my sleepy eyes focused on my email and unblurred enough to read I learned that the visa had indeed been issued ... FOR AN INCORRECT PASSPORT NUMBER! ...but fortunately in about the same breath the Organization said "but we've been prepping Kyrgyzstan as a back up are you ready to go there instead?" So it turns out I'm going to Kyrgyzstan!

   Apparently I'm going specifically to just beside the Jeti-Ögüz Gorge / rocks / hot spring.

Route shown from the capitol airport just because it doesn't seem to show you a pin if I don't have a route on it, though I will be (flying?) from the capitol to the location.

   Presently, because this and the immediately following project in Nicaragua are planned by two different Oorganizations, the proposed flights have me going from Kyrgyzstan to Melbourne before proceeding immediately to Nicaragua, a 61 hour transit, but I'm working with them to try to get them to work together to go from Kyrgyzstan immediately to Nicaragua, which would be more like thirty hours.

   Suffice to say I probably won't be online much for the next month. I'll come back with a full report and lots of photos though! And get a field update in if I can.

Tags: agdev, congo, kyrgyzstan, travel plans

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