Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Notes From My Forest Journal (Entry 1)

We left Aketi around 10 am, and headed down to the beach where a large wooden dugout canoe was waiting for us. Much deeper than traditional pierogies too, thankfully.

Our trackers are Olivier, Richard, and Blaise. We have Emmanuel with us too to guard the camp during the day.

Traveling along the Itimbiri River is extremely serene -- quiet, breezy, still. The small fishing villages barely punctuate the water’s edge -- they are so easy to miss. It is easy to fall asleep, listening to the lapping of the water and the gear makes a great pillow!

The sky is blackening, threatening to rain. Our trackers decide to pull into a small fishing camp just as the rain begins to worsen and we take shelter in this fisherman’s “pied-à-terre.”

Simple yet efficient, the shelter has two beds, a chair, some fishing traps and a little stock of corn and fruit. It is made with only local items -- palm, wood, bamboo -- but it is remarkably watertight!

GPS COORDS: N02º44.008’, E023º43.865’

We all relax and eat leftover bread from breakfast. Richard points out a coffee plant and Cleve, Adam and I eat the berries. There is the familiar-shaped coffee bean inside, but it tastes like nothing and is white. The aftertaste is slightly bitter.

We won’t make it now to our final destination, a fishing village about 29km away. Instead, we’ll continue another 9km when the rain stops, and camp there.

Even despite the delay, river travel feels far preferable to that of the motorbike. Being on the river gives me a chance to see Congo as it been have once been - green and wild and quiet.

There are a few metal skeletons near Aketi, rusty and threaded with vines and leaves -- vestiges of a Belgian past almost forgotten here but never let go.

Even listening to the rain as it falls, shaking the trees and rumbling and crashing all around us, it is beautiful. Everything is beautiful.

No comments: