Saturday, December 02, 2006

Am I here?

There are two levels of problems with the internet connection here. One is at the office level - this is about to improve, at last! The second problem is the satellite connection. Since there are no landline telephones, and no cables (neighboring Rwanda has just installed broadband cable along all the main roads - I'm very jealous!), we must rely on satellite. And when it rains, that link goes down. We are now in the rainy season and it rains day and night! The connection comes and goes, so even as I write, I'm not sure when this will get posted.

Water woes.

I thought I'd write a word or two about water. In Africa, it seems, there's either too much of it or too little. And here in Bukavu we manage to have both problems at the same time. It is raining, and this week mudslides in town brought down a few houses and killed several children. Mud is every where. I pick my way carefully through the puddles and squelch along the slippery tracks that serve as roads, even in the best part of town. Four-wheel drive vehicles with heavy duty tyres slip and slide up and down the hillside neighbourhoods. Mud here is especially viscous. As is the water in my shower. A few weeks back I noticed that my hands felt sticky after washing; I've never come across sticky water before. Apparently it's the lake water. Generally our water comes from the river Rusizi that feeds into Lake Kivu, but sometimes they switch the supply over to the lake. I haven't figured out yet why we have water problems when there's so much rain. In the office we often don't have any water at all, or only on the ground floor as the pressure isn't sufficient for it to come up to the first floor where our offices are. At home there's frequently not enough pressure to supply water in the mornings, but it will come back in the evenings. A few days ago all the water was cut off for about three days, without notice - so we didn't have any stored. Fortunately the climate is relatively cool, so three days without a shower was manageable. I did enjoy a good hot shower when the water came back on!


wil said...

I have you on my blog reader and stop by every time a new message appears.

Ian said...

We're in Kamembe and our internet solution is to use MTN, the Rwandan mobile network which will probably give you coverage in Bukavu. It's slow but reliable. The main expense is the special modem you need (costs about $200, I think). The good news is that if you use a Mac you don't need one if you have the right kind of mobile phone.
Monthly costs are 20,000 Frw for 24-hour access.
The mud is just the same this side of the border!

Nicky Reiss said...

Hi Ian in Kamembe!
This sounds almost too good to be true... though I suspect I probably don't have "the right kind" of mobile phone! Would really like to discuss this and get further details. Would you send me a message on my MTN number (08772762), and then I'll give you a call?