We’ve discussed what’s involved in getting to the Congo jungle, and we’ve shown some Bai wildlife and our first gorilla trek to see Buka’s group. But before the next round of gorilla pics, we wanted to share some of the joys of living many hours from any civilization, as it was a frequent source of discussion and entertainment for us. As we traveled north, showers became buckets, hot water became cold, soap became a luxury item and power was non-existent.Here are our showers at Ndoki:They were buckets of cold water at Ndoki, but gloriously hot at Mondika. The first hot shower (term used loosely) in 4 days, in an open air hut facing the jungle, with rain pouring down outside, was maybe the most memorable bathing experience ever.
We attempted washing our clothes in the river, which was probably ill advised. In the damp air, they took 2+ days to dry on our handmade vine line, and some of the items were far stinkier than when they started.The cleanliness gained by washing or showering anything was fleeting. Within an hour the heat and humidity reclaim their rightful places and the sweaty stink returns.We had some amazing food in both camps. Here is the kitchen at Ndoki, the chef (Fafa), and his assistant.Here is the kitchen crew at Mondika. The crew spend 20 days in the jungle and go home for 7. When asked why there were no women, the response was, “they cause problems”.Some of the delicious food we had: pouisson fume (smoked fish), a traditional Congolese dish. These whole river catfish where charred black to preserve the meat.At Mondika it was made into a stew with peanut sauce and saka saka (chopped up manioc leaves). There were also aubergines, fou fou (cassava), and small tart delicious bananas from the tree in camp. And river cooled beer from Cameroon!By our third night we were no longer waking up in terror whenever sticks broke, or Bemba seed pods exploded open. And after the rainstorms on our first day at Mondika, the skies were clear and the stars were as bright as we’ve ever seen them.