Friday, June 26, 2015

The Hippo Hole

Friday is a fun day in Buj.

Many people only work half days, President Nkurunziza plays soccer with his buddies, and right next door, some of the muzungus from the embassy gather at the old cercle nautique, which we've dubbed the Hippo Hole.

The Hippo Hole used to be the main marina of Bujumbura, where colonial Belgians docked their yachts and sailboats for weekend excursions on Lake Tangyanika. Now, it hosts two or three old speedboats and a restaurant/bar that has reliably been empty since I've starting coming. Granted, since the crisis started, many establishments in Bujumbura are pretty empty, as many expats were evacuated after the coup and a lot of Bujumbura's middle class left for Kigali until things blow over.

We always sit on a rickety platform that I'm sure was built in the 1950s or 1960s. One can order a cold (or warm) beer, enjoy the breeze off the lake, squint at the setting sun, and watch for hippos.

Because the marina is shallow and hippos apparently don't swim as much as they seem to bounce along the muddy lake bottom, the Hippo Hole is a great place for hippo watching. They usually come out in the afternoon to bask, dine, yawn and burp. The slightly smaller mammals on the rickety platform above do the same.