Democratic Republic of the Congo, the home country I never knew. Growing up, Egypt was the only place I called home. I always say that I’ve left my heart in so many places, and Cairo’s definitely on top of the list. My only haven. After 18 years away, the first time I went back to Kinshasa was on July 4th 2014, for a short stay of 3 months, then went to the Philippines to study acting, so I never really had the chance to properly discover where I come from. After spending close to 8 months in the Philippines, I came back to Kinshasa again, on June 3rd 2015, with an eagerness to explore every corner. I came to rediscover my roots and get to know where I come from and see all these places they talk about. I realized that all these years spent away, I didn’t know anything about the country I was so proud of. I wanted nothing more than to be here and start my wanderlust journey. Today, I am so happy to be back in my country to fully experience it, as well as taking you along with me on my journey as I explore the soil of DRC.
When I first arrived, there were so many places I wanted to go to and I didn’t know where to begin, so I took my notebook out and wrote down all the places I know and want to visit. I did some intense research about different locations and attractions and how to get there. I didn’t want to be driven in an air conditioned car. I wanted to walk and take public transportation like other people. Feel what they felt and live like a true local. The minute my plane touched down, I wasn’t foreign anymore.
I have to say there are quite a lot of things to see here and every time I stumble upon something, this country doesn’t fail to surprise me. There are numerous things to do here in Kinshasa, though it may not seem like it from afar. You will never fall short of anything. Once you get to know it well enough, you’ll stumble upon many hidden gems. After taking a few days to relax, my sister and I had lunch at one of my favorite places here. O’poeta, a Portuguese restaurant that is well known for its pizza and salads.
During the first week of August, I decided to explore the Botanic Garden of Kinshasa, which is located in Zando, downtown. You can easily get there from anywhere. You’d find buses as well as taxis. If you don’t know, you could ask around, locals will guide you. At the bus station, you can look through the map or ask drivers. At the Botanic Garden, the entrance fee is pretty affordable whether you’re a local tourist or a foreigner. It’s 2500 FC for locals, which is about $2.5, and $5 for foreigners. Pictures are allowed inside, so you can use your digital camera for a small amount of fee, payable at the door or just use your phone camera for free.
The garden is pretty vast and clean and home to different types of trees, plants and flowers like the ”Murraya Paniculata”, ”Milicia Excelsa”, and ”Agave Americana.” A map is also available inside if you need guidance. If you’re in love with mother nature, just like I am, then you’d definitely find a soul connection with all these greenery surrounding you.