Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Practical guide to exit N'djili airport, Kinshasa

Getting out of Kin is a mild headache that takes time and cash. To the difference of my previous airport experiences, this one was the most procedural and long. 
Going to/ out of the USA is a pain, and immigration/ security officers there are really wearing the mask that fits their job. We had in that regard a wonderfull experience coming to Chicago after 46 hours travelling. We got to see and understand the humanity of a uniformed man who kept it professionnal whilst my 2 year old was relieving herself and was abundantly defecating on my wonderfull wife. They could only get clean after we completed our turn for the immigration interview. Obviousely no assistance could be given, it must be too much of a risk being in contact with kids (0,2,4 year old), or carrying luggages (too heavy and propably dangerous). 
There are other aiports where people are known for their capacity to make you feel guilty of something, whatever that might be. 
N'djili airport provides none of these guilt-moments: people are friendly, respectfull, facilitating the process for families and elderly people, really good in that way. And that humanity and contact makes the entire experience being tolerable. 
The Challenge of N'djili lies in the Kafkaian procedures one has to undergo to board the plane and get out of the country. Probably the most complex system I have been through.
My advise: spend the necessary 2'500 FrC (2.5usd) for an airport man who will help you going through the procedures step by step. Best money ever spend. 
It took me more than 3 hours with the help of the airport man to get everything sorted and be able to board the plane. The lenght was partially due to the no system situation, so all the tickets and luggages had to be done by hand, and partially due to the 17 controls and indispensable procedures that are strenghtening the belief that going in a plane is something special, one really should deserve and not consume. 
I join here some of the steps. The guide is for those who do not want to pay the airport guy, because they feel adventurous, or too stingy to pay him, or uptight on their right "not to have to rely on someone", generally combined with lavish criticisms about the way things operate here in the Congo. There was a frenchman in that category, I think that he spend his 3 hours getting angrier and angrier and telling everyone around how useless things where. Poor guy, he will make his shrink and heart specialist rich and happy. I feel you just poison yourself getting upthight for such small details.
In a way, unlike most aiport, N'djili provides entretainment and makes sure you keep busy and occupied from the moment you get there to the moment you jump in the plane. They make the wait go smooth, no need to feel bored sitting on an uncomfortable airport chair. Just for that I was happy to pay my 55usd exit taxes, althought I would have preferred if they were named them "Ndjili Entertainment and Occupation tax to help bored people wait for their planes".

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