Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congo (5) Brussels, Belgium, 10/8/1920 [DCS]

Brussels, Belgium

October 8, 1920

My own dear homefolks:

Here they talk French and French only, unless by chance they have picked up a little English somewhere. The lady in whose house we are staying speaks English and teaches French. She is such a nice pleasant woman and so kind to all of us.

We took our first lesson in French last evening, as the evening is the only time she can give us – she has several other pupils. I have about decided not to study French now, but spend my time on Baluba. That is what I shall need most. Shall study French with B.M. later on. However, I think I shall pick up some from hearing the language spoken all the time.

Have just been down town to take a bath. This may sound a little odd, but someway they haven’t good water connection here and they advised us to go there. This seems a very common thing here, for there were nice women and men there and everything was clean and nice. The woman got to telling me about the hot and cold water, and of course, I just stood and stared at her. I do know the word for ‘thank you’ though.

I’ve been telling you all these things, and really I should have told you first when we got here, etc. We reached Brussels Thursday evening about six thirty, leaving London at eight thirty. Arrived in Dover, where we went to sail for the mainland at ten thirty; left Dover at eleven and reached Ostend, Belgium, at somewhere about three thirty or three. We had an unusually smooth voyage. You know the English Channel is nearly always very rough, but as it happened, there was very little motion to the boat. Rowena got seasick coming over, and Mr. Kinman (of Methodist Mission) said it was rough the day he came over, but he has had quite a little experience in sailing. He was in the war and was in France for quite a while. They all told me I would certainly get seasick crossing the English Channel. As we entered the harbor at Ostend, we saw where the Germans have dropped bombs and torn up things considerably. The station which was made of glass was shattered and only the arches where it once was were left. Also the boat which the Belgiums used in blocking the channel, or rather the entrance to the harbor, is still there.

The country is beautiful between Ostend and Brussels, very flat, and nearly every strip of land has been cultivated or flowers and trees planted, showing that the Belgian people are industrious. As I said, the land between here and Ostend is very level, but I am told that in the other direction there is rolling land, and perhaps rather high hills.

It is about two hundred and twenty five to fifty miles from here to Paris, but I fear we shall not be able to go. It would be quite an expense, and our out-fit has cost us quite a bit. It is possible that we will decide to go.

We sent our wash out this morning. The first we have had done since leaving New York, except what few things I have washed out myself. I did some washing this morning, also pressed a little. I am so glad I can press here, for I never feel dressed up unless a dress is pressed. I had my blue georgette and ruffled voile pressed on the boat and such a mess. They did not even press the ruffles.

Nearly everything is much cheaper here than in England. Our meals are from fifty to seventy-five cents and you get plenty, too. What I like best is the pastry (cakes) they make here. All kind of little cakes, we would call them cookies at home. Wish father could eat some of them, for he likes cakes so well. We had lark (bird) for dinner today. None of us could eat them. They looked like little chickens when they are first hatched, heads on and all. Nearly everything here is cooked like Americans cook – better than they were in England. This was an exception, though.

We eat breakfast here, these people always serve a light breakfast, generally bread and butter; coffee and orange marmalade; dinner, our heavy meal, we eat down town and supper here. We have to order in the morning what we want for supper, and Madame Busé puts our order in with hers. She prepares all the meals.

We have a very pleasant room. It is somewhat crowded as we have two small beds, quite a large writing table, two large chairs, three small ones, about like our dining room chairs, a wardrobe, hat or coat rack, a small sofa, a towel rack and a stove. Also two of our trunks. I put my trunk in the wardrobe, open, so it is not very much in the way. Oh! I did not mention the Washstand and dresser combined. One strange thing about these people, they always have two bowls and pitchers, two soap dishes, etc. We have a large double window which lets in the morning sun, and makes our room very pleasant. We have had no cold weather since we got here, that is uncomfortably cold weather, and we keep this window open most of the time.

We went out to the museum of the Congo, about a forty or fifty minute ride on the street car this afternoon and saw many interesting things there. It makes me want to go on, so I can see everything. It is such a beautiful ride out there, and we are talking of taking our dinner out there some day soon.

Monday evening

While B.M. is having his lesson in French, I am going to finish my letter to you. I have just finished studying my Baluba lesson and have only a few minutes before he comes. I am studying both French and Baluba from B.M. He is pretty well advanced in French, in fact more so than anybody of our party, and I rather take from him.

We went to hear an English service yesterday morning, but in the evening went to a French service. It was held by an American who had been over here a comparatively short length of time and had learned French unusually fast. While I understood only a few words, it was something new and I didn’t get very tired. They sang a song or two that we knew, but the words were entirely different.

I must close now with much love for you both.



P.S. Be sure and tell me everything that happens, for I am very interested.

Wednesday evening Oct.

Dear folks:

I thought B.M. would have finished his letter to you and we would have started this on its long journey back to Texas, but he has been kept busy and has not been able to write.

I am wondering how you are tonight and what you are doing. Wish so much that I could be there with you for a while at least. I am well and happy, though. There never could be a better man to me than B.M. is. It’s been such a long time since I’ve heard from you, and I don’t suppose we will hear until we reach Congo.

We went to the picture show last evening, and among other things we saw some views of the Belgian Congo. Lusambo was one place they showed, also some dances, markets, etc. All was very interesting, and B.M. said it gave one good idea of how the natives live.

I am very sleepy so good-night and pleasant dreams.



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