Twelve years ago, the Nyiragongo Volcano erupted, spewing lava throughout the city of Goma. Fortunately the lava moved slowly enough that most people were able to get out of its way, but over 500 people did die from asphyxiation. The town wasn’t so lucky. The entire town was covered by the lava, as deep as six meters in some places, destroying most buildings and leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless. The amazing thing is that most everyone remained in Goma afterward, and decided to rebuild. Essentially all the buildings I’ve seen here are brand new (within the last 12 years at least) but they are built six feet higher than the previous city. If you ever get the chance to visit Seattle, take the Underground Walking tour- same deal, today’s Seattle is built on top of Seattle from 100 years ago.
It’s illegal to take photos in Goma city, and most of DRC due to security concerns. Again, glad I am here with a tour guide. In my hotel today I met another muzungu who had just spent four days in jail- for taking a picture and getting caught. So far Emmanuel has kept me out of jail and showed me different places where I can get away with taking photos. But still, in order to take a picture I have to be in a moving vehicle and very sneaky. It is like a drive by-photo op. Though, as you will see, I am definitely not paparazzi material. To give you an idea as to what Goma looks like, here is one neighborhood. There is exactly one paved road in Goma, the road where all the NGOs are located.
This is where the local Congolese live:
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but this road is at about a 45 degree incline. Lots of bumps along the way:
On the left side you see a house which appears to be falling down. You have to feel bad for this guy. The house was built after the volcano erupted in 2002. A few years ago the government decided they wanted to widen the road. So, they forced the family to move and knocked down the part of the house which was in the way of the road. But, they didn’t bother to knock down the whole house. There is barbed wire across the front of the building to make sure no one enters it. I’m sure that makes it completely safe: