Saturday, February 21, 2009

Field Journal - Day Nine


No one said that life out here was easy! Polycarpe has malaria now, and I was nearly knocked out this morning by a falling piece of bamboo!

It missed me by mere INCHES, and I’m still a bit shaken.

But I’d previously thought that nighttime trips to our forest toilet were the worst fear I could fall prey to! With the blackness of night and path, subject to a variety of snakes and carnivorous bugs, it was a reason to hold it until sunup!

Of course, all this pales in comparison to a tale I was told yesterday by a man who’d had diarrhea for five months straight!

He’d bought his cooking oil from a large refinery in Bumba, like many people.

The refinery had huge vats of oil, as big as a house. It was on a trip to get more oil that this man discovered the refinery was CLOSED!

A year previous, there had apparently been a thief, who had scaled one of the vats with the intention of stealing oil from the opening on top.

Unfortunately, it was slippery with (what else BUT) ... OIL! and the thief fell into the oil and drowned.

But no one KNEW! So they kept selling the oil, and people kept consuming it, and when people complained about the taste, I’m told it was blamed on the long-term storage in the tank.

Who knows how, or why they finally discovered the thief, but by the time they did, he was nothing but bones!

I’d say “only in Congo” -- but it wouldn’t surprise me anywhere anymore!

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