Amistad, Part 25. "excuse me but did you see a pile of PFD's anywhere?"
I can't believe where I am. This morning I was fretting about whether I was going to attempt Burundi or not. Then I met these 2 guys at the Hotel Martha after coming back from a useless trip to the UNHCR. I had seen them earlier in the day at Burundi Consulate.
First, I met the crazy [term of endearment] Swiss guy, Samuel. He's a gardener back home. He's here to check on his "project", Jack, a Tanzanian, whom he "sponsors". Putting it simply, Samuel met Jack on an earlier trip and now helps out with some funding. They're off to see the plot of land just across that Jack has bought with the money. Then they plan on traveling into the DRC.
We talked about what he knew about Burundi. He wasn't much help. Then Jack showed up. He turned out to be a really friendly guy. He said traveling there was no problem.
It may have been a coincidence but they were going to Burundi that very day.
Jack asked, "why don't you come along with us?"
I was completely unprepared. My stuff was strewn across my room.
"Could you pack in 20 minutes? We're in a hurry."
To which i replied, "yep".
l to r: Jack, Samuel. Jack's a pretty funny guy. I told him alot of Canadians are scared to come to Africa 'cause they're scared they'll die or get mugged. His solution was for Canadians declare to any bad Africans, "I have a nuclear weapon in my pants"... he pronounced nuclear correctly not like some jackass President we all know.
So, I'm on my way to Bujumbura [capital of Burundi] of all places. So much for fretting. Take the plunge. I'm beginning to like this travel business. I packed like a mad man and headed down to the dock to catch the next boat. I had only time to load up on a few bottles of water then jumped aboard a 40 foot creaky motor driven dorry with at least 50 other passengers. We'd sit on the rim while the burgeoning load sat on the bottom of the boat.
We left at 1420. I slathered on the sunscreen. The boat was uncovered and the sun was just blazed away. As Kigoma port slid out of sight, I texted my brother about my "plans" for what may have been the last time.
Before: pristine old growth rainforest of Gombi. No, Jane Goodall didn't come out to greet us and we didn't see any chimps either.
After: where are the trees? Instead, we saw alot of erosion.
Slowly, we chugged along the shore. Close enough to enjoy the hills that came all the way down to the turquoise waters of Tanganyika. Most of the them were denuded of trees unfortunately. Farmers have cultivated fields that appeared nearly vertical along the contours of the land. I could see the massive erosion (slumped soil) caused by the summer rains from hill to hill. The only "wilderness" area I saw were the dense rainforests of Gombi National Park. That only lasted 30 minutes on the cruise.
Kagunga English School...
Took us nearly four hours to reach here, Kagunga. It appears to be a tiny village clinging to the slopes above the lake. Any time past 6 PM and it gets dark. There was time to hold an English class for a small group of kids that congregated around us. [ed. note: can't believe I taught these kids how to say "i have a nuclear weapon in my pants"].
Samuel and Jack: hunkering down at the Kagunga Hilton. I was a little worried about where we'd stay that night. Kagunga's pretty small.