The revised version, SOS from the Jungles of Congo, can be found here.


I never expected that my biggest challenge in the Congo would be a white woman from Spain.

Although I have tried to spare you all the endless rants about the reality of trying to navigate one of the most tumultuous relationships that I have ever encountered (which happens to involve the same person with whom I spend every waking hour- who dictates what and how much I eat, when and if I can leave the extremely restricted area where I live and work, how much second-hand smoke I will be inhaling in the span of a day, if I will be granted access to the internet or electricity, and whether or not I will be the lucky recipient to serve as an outlet for her anger originating from any number of sources on a given day). Below offers a glimpse into my experience at a weak moment of a particularly trying day after an exceptionally grueling week that makes up a seemingly endless string of months enduring an impossible situation.

Rocket Flare

I often envision myself setting one off, seen from a birds-eye view, catapulting out of the green blanket of trees like a frantic, directionally-challenged shooting star, alerting some sympathetic flyers-by that there is an overzealous crusader trapped in the forgotten trenches of Congo, held prisoner by a manic, abusive, parasitic white woman who exists solely on cigarettes and the souls of those around her, exhaling an endless stream of smoke that masks the toxic force that slowly, methodically extinguishes the essence of the unfortunate victims who have unknowingly landed in her inescapable web, kept alive enough to quell her appetite while they and their fellow crusaders are whittled down to an empty shell of their former selves, resigned to their inevitable fate, forgetting the passion they once had to fight for their cause…or even what that cause was.

A side note:
This woman does, in fact, have some redeeming, even admirable qualities. Perhaps- on a different day, on a different continent, far removed from the day of my departure, when I can bask in my strength of character and proven resilience- I will remember what they are.

6 thoughts on “SOS

  1. Breathe, sweetie, breathe!!!! Don’t give her the power to steal your peace, joy, energy and enthusiasm—-only YOU have the power to steer your life. She is probably feeling a little panic, recognizing that you will soon be leaving, preparing herself to be “alone” and without your company. You do bring energy and excitement wherever you go—-that will be hard to give up. Stay strong, drink in all that is good and beautiful and exciting from your Congo adventure. When you leave recognize, with pride, the impact that your 6 months in Africa has made, and learn from the impact made in your heart by others.


  2. Sad 😦 You will be home soon. Something I learned yesterday: it doesn’t matter where you work, or go, negative people will always be there. There’s a soul sucker in every job. We must light our own paths and maintain the least amount of contact with them. You will be home soon.


  3. well done Brooke for making it through. I am so sorry for you that this experience wasn’t your dream experience. Fortunately you have a husband you did not want to leave for more than 6 months, otherwise you may have signed up for longer! The moment you leave you will of course only remember the good things, which is what makes people like you so special. Safe travels home and let’s talk soon.
    Ps- your writing is brilliant. I reckon a book on those 6 months is in order… 🙂


  4. Hello Brooke,

    I found you through A. Mole and his memory vs imagination post. I was in Rwanda and Zaire in 1994. I’d gone to Rwanda in June for the displacement/killing and ended up in Goma for the epidemic. I was back and forth between Kigali and Goma/Bukavu for six months. What you write about brings back many memories. Of course, what I was doing was different from what you did. I used to drive near where the gorillas and chimps were, but I had other things to worry about. I really never processed any of it until much later. I was only reacting during that time. The best I can make out of it now is some sort of nightmare that comes during the day at the oddest and most inappropriate times. Anyway, hope your writing is going well. Thanks. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Duke. I just can’t imagine the horrific things you have seen. I’m not clear on what you were doing, but it sounds like it might have been humanitarian work. I know from experience how defeating it can be to witness all the insidious and debilitating issues that cripple those countries…and the people. I hope those memories relinquish their grip on you, but I know that is next to impossible. My very best to you and thank you for taking the time to read my post and share some of your story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s