Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Swahili for Sore Ass?

Adam is all gung-ho, writing posts. All I can think about is sleeping.

There's always an acclimation period. It's not about the language, or the jetlag. Or maybe not about any of these things singly. I'm settling back into my old routines for sure -- much to the chagrin I'm sure of my parents, but I swear -- Gin & Tonic keeps the mosquitoes away!

I haven't eaten anything super exciting (to answer Rachel's question). Vegetarian options in Mzungu establishments are generally limited to spaghetti napolitaine and Champignons on Toast (mushrooms). Both of which I enjoy, so I've had no problems.

Our hotel in Kisangani is actually really nice. I'm completely unused to hotels having air conditioning but again, it's a lot hotter here than I'm used to. Muggier, a bit more humid, but after seeing this lush, untouched jungle this morning I can really see why.

We saw the beginnings of the road that Daniel is building to the shore to get to the new chimp sanctuary's island -- it's a gorgeous road, very well-constructed and durable, but I'm also a bit torn about it - it cuts through pristine jungle-y forest, and already locals are using the road to burrow deeper in the forest, clear-cutting areas for living and farming already! It's like leaving an open vein in a drug addict -- the road will help bring construction materials out to the sanctuary, but at what cost?

There are always so many more than 2 sides to the coin out here. I used to have a firm belief that you COULDN'T help the people and help the primates at the same time -- they were two opposing needs. I guess it was the influence of Geza (Teleki) at GWU.

But the more time I spend here, the more I realize that you can't think of things like that -- being disdainful of the misuse of the environment here would only be hypocrisy. Think of all the natural resources we squandered in North America before we started caring about Whole Foods Market and recycling. I feel like a better approach would be "Learn from our mistakes," though this is rarely a tactic employed by the conservationist here.

People are simply trying to survive, the same as any animal would in a similar situation.

At the hotel, there are 3 stray cats who "live" there but aren't fed, and beg from the whiteys at the tables at dinner. And they'll eat anything! Anything! Bread, french fries, cole slaw, hot peppers -- I may complain about the overpopulation of the human race, but bravo for us for managing to eek out a living in such rough, varied climates.

Currently, I'm trying to boost myself up for the next leg of our trip -- from Kisangani to Aketi. We'd originally planned to fly with Aviation Sans Frontiers, but they're closing their doors now that the UN is no longer funding them, and all of the flights before their last day (the 19th) are completely booked.

As an alternative, we'll be going by motorbike, which, according to Cleve, is a difficult journey that will leave our butts sore and our spirits dampened. He calls it "Bushmeat Highway". I'll admit the adventuresome spark that is hidden deep within my pure exhaustion at the moment sees it as a great opportunity of something to do once ;) But at the same time, it will definitely be an adventure in the Reality Television Show vein as well I'm sure.

I'm sure there were other things I wanted to write about. I should mention that being umbrella'ed under a bigger NGO has made certain tasks extremely easy, to the point of incredulity. We were ushered like rockstars to the airport in Kinshasa, and guided through the check-in process by a series of people who asked information of us, went away, and came back with everything we needed. We haven't been custom-searched once since arriving. It has cost us, of course (an entry on bribery to come), but the ease is a welcome change.

When we arrived at Kisangani, other gents went off to collect our bags with our bag tags, and amazingly, they were all there! My anxiety about flying locally in Congo was not without merit (the takeoff time in Kinshasa seemed *excessively* long) but we'd made it. Daniel was there to pick us up and was friends with the immigration officer, so we went to the head of the line and were through the airport, no muss, no fuss.

I will definitely take more photos tonight and tomorrow, but expect little contact in the next few days. We head off to Aketi allegedly on Friday and will arrive there on Sunday. Or maybe to Buta on Sunday!

I'm not even sure, but right now, I am too tired to care.

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