I followed this post from yesterday morning and read through as much as I could until the early hours of this morning 01h35 to be exact then I carried on reading when I got home from work at 15h30 this afternoon and I got as far as post #604, I could not contain myself any more, I had to join not only to agree with the very many posts to congratulate the author on a fantastic thread but also to state to those that do not know the Congo at all, this is not an ordinary country like we are all used to. I can tell you that the place is absolute chaos :exclaim: :violent-smiley-031: there is no infrastructure and to travel through as only one couple takes fantastic guts and determination, especially in a country that has BEEN AT WAR FOR OVER 40 YEARS can you wrap your head around that RMP&O? just think about it for a while I would not recomend this trip to anyone especially not someone with the attitude of RMP&O no offence, you just won't survive out there, this story is FANTASTIC and not to take anything away from it at all just to add my 2c worth, there is no time in the Congo that you can relax and being white does not help either as you are the centre of attention especially in the more remote areas where few white men venture so they ae the main attraction and WITH A WOMAN let me elaborate here when I was in kinshasa a woman was thrown from her seat to make place for me (a man) to sit down, I refused politely with gestures and bid the woman to sit again and I was shunned immediately as this was rude of me, then you become the centre of attention and the looks you get are not kind smiling faces at all but rather threatening glares, but my culture made me respect woman, however you keep getting reminded that this is not your country.
In the village of Kabinda (where I was stationed in my first six weeks of the election process in July/August of 2006) the men would walk next their woman carrying a beer and the woman would have one child tied to there backs next to the load of wood for the evening fire another child being dragged along by the right hand and the left hand carrying a few plastic bottles of water tied together with a string and a large bundle of who knows what balancing on her head, hardly able to manage with the kid the woman stumbled in front of me I offered help and was quickly taken away from there by the United Nations head of security sent with as our protection in the region. He explained that it was the woman who do all the work and not to interfere as this is their culture, there is constantly a crowd of more than 100 :jump: people following you with your white skin because it is different but this is not easy to get used to constantly you are called a Mlungu and jeered at and men with pangas roam the streets and not at anytime do you want to cause the attention to be drawn to you as this can become very hazardous to your health but you cannot help this as you "glow" and stand out in the crowd, to live with this constant fear for the unknown is not good. I was seconded to the IEC to do the networking for the results of the elections and had a companion he was a black dude from the IEC. We had to travel from Mbuji-Mayi with the congolese police escort by Toyota 4x4 to get to Kabinda as we needed the Vehicle there in case of emergency.
We flew from Kinshasa to Kananga and spent two days there then from there we flew to Mbuji-Mayi by helicopter and we stayed there for two days waiting for the vehicle to be prepared.
At night you here the gunfire of the different diamond smugglers bands fighting over territory and "workers", these "workers" are children probably between the age of 8 to 15.
We saw them when we travelled the next day they dissapear in the muddy water of the river and then reappear with handfulls of muddy clay which they sift through for diamonds, their guards standing nearby armed to the teeth with machine guns :ar15: and handguns to "keep them safe".
You cannot just take photos either if you do some people go from neutral to very violent in under 3 seconds and there you go again getting taken away from a potentially life threatening situation.
You sit at night in the mission and the security speak of events that happened, rape of men and woman in the streets butchering of their limbs and genitals.
I had a photo of the cannibals with a human head on a bench next to them and one bitting at a bloody stump of an arm this is in my archives somewhere not sure if I should post this.
The Country is nerve wracking to say the least and I seem to be trying to detail what it is like but I think I have already written far to much already in trying to accomplish this so I must stop here ( I know what Frederik must feel like) there is just not enough time and space to explain enough to try to get the full impact across.
But RMP&O you go through the Congo and do the trip, if you survive and get through I will be the first to read your report!
Frederick & Josephine I am in awe of your courage and determination really and thanks for a fantastic story, if you ever get to do the book...I will promote it as an excellent read.
This thread reminds me of a Journey (Chautauqua), except it was father and son on a motorcycle. The book is full of philosophy which closely resembles yours, and I think you would love the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Dont let the Title fool you. Awesome write up on the Congo, takes alot of balls to sell everything for that. Im sure looking back it will be a priceless experience worth many times whatever you lost in the process. Thats one hell of a woman you got there, tougher than most people I know.
Your introspection is astounding, and im sure you have thought long and hard about your recovery efforts. I think, the only winch that would be worth it would be a PTO type for you. I think most electric winches would have burned out, or destroyed the battery many times over considering your distance. I actually stumbled on this entire article because I was thinking that a shovel would be a very sufficent way of getting a vehicle out of the bog. Lo and behold I got sucked into reading your write up for about 3-4 hours. This is definately one of the internet Gems, the reason ive loved the net since the early 90's.
I have no judgements for you, after all its over and an afterthought. Im sure that you should indeed publish this, a magazine format would be perfect because of all the pictures. OR do an even more in-depth write up and make it a book. Might not be a NY times best seller, but it would be a timeless read that would live on forever. You are probably the only one out there with this story, so you should definately do it. It would also help you recover some of your costs.
I always knew my dad was onto somthing buyin that LC.
Im sure your already planning your next adventure, look forward to it.
I just found about this amazing story. I too have been in the Congo and reading this brings to mind good and bad memories. I remember diesel being sold in old liter coke bottles at 10x the price and Simba beer. One time, one of our members did not have his yellow fever immunization on his yellow card. So for $50usd the immigration official stamped his card, but no shot. T.I.A.
I had to sign up just to tell you how remarkable this read has been. Ive been back and forth with it for the past few months, not wanting the story to end! You have really captured an amazing tale of human endurance, emotional triumph, and more than anything else, really put my life into perspective for me. Not from the 'I cant do the same thing' standpoint, but by giving me such insight on how people live in other parts of the world. It's hard to take much for granted after some of the tales Ive seen. Such genuine people and positive contributions that you came across, and to see into their eyes, and imagine how much more difficult their lives have been. This story is truly awe inspiring, and I really hope that you take the time to put this into a book, or at least a more 'proper' format. This journey needs to be shared to anyone who is willing to emotionally invest in such a read.