Sunday, July 10, 2005
Still in Congo, Still not Dead
I am now in the oil boom town of Pointe Noire on the Atlantic Coast of the country. Matt and I flew down from Brazzaville on Friday. That was a trial. We wanted to take the train. It is a 24 hour ride through what is supposed to be some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, but due to "rebel activity" whiteys aren't allowed to ride right now. You see there are two rival heavily armed militias that control the Pool region which surrounds Brazzaville and they support themselves by ripping off trains. Straight out of the Wild West huh? It gets better though. The names of the two groups are the Ninjas and the Cobras. So basically it is like an old episode of GI Joe without the good guys. There are soldiers, but if they don't get paid on time, they rip off trains too. Resulting in gun battles as to who gets to rip off the train. So we decided to fly. The airport if the 7th circle of hell. It took 3 hours of wringling and writhing through the unwashed masses to register for a 40 person flight. The plane was of course something old and Russian. We were a little worried about the condition after the mess that flew us from Freetown to Conakry, but the other option, as I mentioned, involved battling Ninjas. But as soon as we got on, everything was copasetic. The interior of the plane was completely covered in faux suede black and white cow print. The magazine holders were leoperd print and the curtains and head rests fire enginge red. It looked like the set of a hip kitchen show. How can you worry about crashing down in a ball of flames in the Congolese jungle when there are faux suede cow seats to pet? After our arrival we have pretty much hung around with the sister of a firend ouf ours from Nouakchott, exploring the town and surrounding countryside. Tomorrow we are heading out to the bush, so hopefully we will have more interesting stories about gorillas next time.