I was jolted from my trance when the car abruptly stopped and everyone piled out. I quickly realized that I had no idea where I was meeting Sylvie. Fortunately, she picked up her phone and we arranged to meet at the Ice Cream shop next to the Hotel Residential. The thought of something cold was enough to make me scream out loud, but something frozen…actual ice cream! The possibilities for the next 24 hours seemed endless. After yet another prayer-inducing moto ride, I was soon chatting with Sylvie over pistachio ice cream, cramming our life stories into abbreviated versions that led us to the here and now. Two hours later, we dashed out to find Sylvie’s car. We were losing daylight and still had a full itinerary to tackle- a tour of the city, a ‘snack’ at her house, dinner at The Orchid, a Congolese concert and dancing at the new trendy spot in town. I was relieved to discover that Sylvie was equally excited about my visit. Her close group of friends had gradually moved away and she rarely went out. After a whirlwind tour of the city, we arrived at her place, hidden behind a enormous, solid gate with a guard on watch 24/7. Her flat seemed like a penthouse, with a huge balcony overlooking the river and an actual shower with an actual shower head, hot water and an impressive selection of fruit-scented toiletries…this time I did scream out loud. Sylvie’s roommate, Habib, had a full spread of delicious food waiting for us, 2 different types of salad, grilled broccoli and cauliflower, mouth-watering grilled chicken. There was no question, I fell off the vegetarian wagon with absolutely no remorse. Next stop was The Orchid, the hot spot for ex-pats and wealthy Congolese. We met up with a couple of Sylvie’s colleagues and settled into a cozy spot overlooking Lake Kivu. My cold beer arrived and I closed my eyes, soaking in the cool breeze coming of the lake, the relaxed chatter in French, English and Swahili and the soft beat of African drums in the background. Any exhaustion from the day melted away as I waited eagerly for my second meal of the evening. No matter if I wasn’t the least bit hungry, I still had a full night of music and dancing ahead. And, as it turns out, I can hold my own dancing Congolese style and can still stay up later than 9pm.