Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes From My Forest Journal (Entry 10)

We’re on our way home -- the last day and the last leg of the journey. You could feel the excitement in the air as we travelled upstream through the warm languid air yesterday, despite the drama of the morning.

We’d needed two extra paddlers to conquer the current, and, seeing us in our hour of need, one of them tried to extort ghastly sums of money from us. Ironically, he was the guy who had constantly proclaimed how Christian he was!

But once on the river again, everything was calm. Emmanuel and Olivier sang in beautiful harmonies, and their voices echoed across the water.

We sang too, Adam, Cleve and I, and tried to find songs we all knew -- that elusive Metallica, Police, Janis Joplin hybrid (Ha!). We settled on a collection of poorly-remembered Beatles songs, and The Rainbow Connection. I managed to quell my thirst for Christmas songs ... I’ll only have to wait 2+ weeks to sing them anyway!

We barely escaped a surprise thunderstorm that crept up on us, hiding in an abandoned fishing camp. The guys had to cut our way through the underbrush with machetes in a race against time as the dark rolled in and the thunder became ever closer .... we scrambled to retrieve everything that could be damaged, carefully trying to avoid slipping as we passed bags along the floor of our increasingly wet and slippery boat!

Fleeing from the storm, single file out of our narrow pierogi, trying to keep it even keeled and progressively slipping and tripping our way up the steep, muddy slope to the camp, it was a bit scary!

No shelters still stood at the abandoned site so we pulled out the big tent and propped it up with sticks and oars. It wasn’t perfect, but it was funny as we all huddled together under it, trying to avoid the plentiful leaks and holes and ensuing cascades of water, each holding our stick aloft!

Despite our good spirits from early in the morning and the day before, it was clear that the rain and journey was wearing on everyone and people were eager to get home. Adventures are always more exciting at the beginning and last night, crawling into our still-wet-and-muddy-from-the-nights-before-tent that smelled like old dirty butts (for good reason) -- I think both Adam and I were really ready to get back to Aketi.

Poor Cleve has to leave Aketi by the 15th to make his flight in Kisangani, so he especially seems anxious at our seemingly constant rain delay.

Of course we’ll get home eventually, and, with luck, today, but it doesn’t make my pants any less wet or clammy or my odor any less rank!!

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