The air is full of so many smells, my nose is having a hard time landing on anything specific. I smell deodorant, body odor, too much perfume, fresh fish, various fried foods that are going to Kinshasa, dust, and the random fart. Between the smell and the noise level, going through customs in Gemena is an assault to my senses. I stand against a wall, my backpack propped between my feet, noticing the grumble in my hungry belly, swaying with each bump as people push their way past. With watery diarrhea, this is not a fun way to start the day, with some stinky bodies pressing too close to me as they pass or cut in line and some beautifully dressed passengers literally pushing me out of the way as they drag ridiculously heavy bags of food. Food in Kinshasa is very expensive, so loads of boxes, crates, coolers, bags, and packages of fish, veggies, cassava, and goat meat are wrapped tight, making their way to the capital and weight doesn’t seem to be an issue on this plane.

It is no fun being singled out by police who ask for money because they assume I have it to give away.

I have lost sight of Josu√©, the kind young man who is paying my exit taxes. He’s been checking in and out periodically, telling me to stay put and “can I pay $10 to someone to make this easier, as they are giving me trouble?”

Gosh, another fart next to me. I need to breathe.

UPDATE: even though the plane was two hours late, it was an easy peasy flight. Customs was a breeze. Now, watching bags go by on the carousel as I wait for mine, one dripping essence of fish all over the conveyor belt.

PS. Please don’t take these posts as complaints…I am simply sharing what I see and feel.