Last year, a dear friend of mine went on holiday in Goma, in eastern Congo, to go see gorillas and relax. She made it sound like a a paradise, beautiful lake, cold beer (I was in beer-less Darfur at the time), fun people, good parties, etc etc etc. My ex was planning a road trip there from Kigali. A friend of a friend counts gorillas there. It certainly never sounded like a set from Apocalypse Now or anything. Everyone I've known who's worked there has liked it and always said the, warranted, horrible reputation of eastern Congo for wretched, abjectly cruel violence, didn't apply there.
Until now. I assume you've all seen the news by now, the advancing rebels, the fleeing people, the crazy soldiers and the ineffectual UN. One of my closest friends from Liberia is in Goma now and I'm harassing him about every twenty minutes for details, making sure he's alive, etc. I won't repeat what he's been telling me because it isn't my story to tell, but it isn't good in the areas around Goma and I wonder if this will finally get people to pay attention to this war that's been going on for so bloody long and been so much more horrifying than most people realize.
Oddly, it is also reversing my desire to be in those situations. This is going to sound really stupid, but I've got no problem with me being in some sort of mortal peril-esque situation, I, of course, being immortal and untouchable reckon I'll get out the other side fine. But I'd forgotten about staff and the absolute, crushing horror of having staff go missing and not knowing if they were targeted because they worked for you, if you can or should intervene and the panic of having people depend on you for their safety.
I mean, I'll still go somewhere cool if I get the chance, of course, but it brought some of those old feelings back.