We’ve been quite stressed since coming back from the forest -- I had over 200 emails that were not junk mail and needed to be answered, and everything felt much like it had crept up on us while we were away, forest-living!
Additionally, the flight we’d secured for the end of March was suddenly up in the air, because the the air company needed an NGO to vouch for the flight. And, though four different NGOs offered, none of them had an obscure document issued in Kinshasa that, while not necessary to run an NGO in Congo, is necessary to be registered with this air charter service.
The two pre-registered NGOs they recommended we seek a favor from were unfortunately non-repsonsive, and here we were, left with five chimpanzees and no way to fly them out!
I think Adam began to panic (and I might have as well though I was slightly less obvious about it), because all of our plans had been made around being able to leave with the chimps at the end of March.
Were we to need to stay longer, it meant having to go back and get our visas renewed (easily a $300 venture and one week process, requiring 300km of travel via motorcycle).
Not only would the visas infringe on our carefully budgeted cash, but we’d need to pay another month of chimp expenses, salaries, and everything else involved in residing here.
We set out immediately on the internet, trying to find an alternative air service that would be able to land on our little Aketi airfield and wouldn’t cost us $4000 an hour.
$4000 an hour is a literal quote we got for a charter service out of Kinshasa, btw. Not even an exaggeration!
We received a phonecall last night from a guy in the UK, who said (very British-ly) that there were several people keen to fly us, and that he’d get back to us today (Wednesday).
So there’s hope, and a definite forward progress! The man building the bamboo cages for the chimps’ flight is mostly done, which is thankful since it took 3 months for the furniture man to finish the shelf and 2 night tables we paid for in December!
We still need to cut the airfield, and finish out the research and what-nots here, but our defeatism has definitely flown the coop!
I will mention, though, that if anyone reading is in Africa and has a private plane (or a friend with one), we would not object to further offers of assistance!