Monday, May 20, 2013


There were no railroads going from Zaire to CAR. A couple of African church members who volunteered to look after me on the way there and I flew closer to the border and then took a truck. They call this truck Fula-fula, because its 'fulla,' to the brink, of people, cargo and the livestock.  
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 Probably, due to my lack of agility to climb onto the back of the truck, I sat in the cabin. The driver had to use his gear shift a lot, and every time we came to a screeching halt, a dried snake from the dashboard would fly into my lap, only to be thrown back in horror by me.  
Every time we came to a deeper pothole, all the people had to get off and let the truck pass the pothole unburdened.  The darkness comes quickly over the countryside in the jungle. At the next pothole, all of us disembarked and started walking though a deep endless puddle.
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I was told to take off my shoes, because they could get sucked under by the mud. Barefoot, I drudged almost the last in the throng of passengers. I was scared. What if I get lost? What the heck was I doing there? What an idiot I was to put myself in that position! Dread settled over me like a pillow over the face. jpeg (125×94)    At that same time, the fireflies, huge and blue, appeared from nowhere. Great number of them began to swirl through the crowd. A young couple was walking in front of me. They were visibly enjoying the night and each other's company. The fireflies whirled round and round them, leaving the blue trace behind them, making the scene magical. All my worries were forgotten. I breathed the fragrant air and considered myself a happy person to see all that. 
   We were delayed by a blown up tire and by the time we arrived to a lake, the ferry already left. As the news that we had to spend the night on the lakeshore spread, suddenly, the people started to slide over the front of the truck and the windshield, looking exactly like zombies with their faces sunburnt and covered in mud and sweat after the long day on the top of the truck-bed. I felt that it would be inappropriate to sleep in the cabin with the driver. So I primly took my little suitcase and sat on it outside on the ground, covered in by my big towel, among other travelers. The sleep just began to steal over me, when a cloud of small gnats settled on me. Some bugs attacked every uncovered patch of skin. Others flew under the legs of my pants and the throngs of my sandals. They hid quietly for a few seconds, then began to bite in earnest. Every bite burned like fire! Cured of false modesty, I was back in the truck cabin in no time at all. I, probably, brought some bugs with me, because the driver who peacefully slept until then, suddenly sat up and started to thump himself all over. He did the opposite thing and left the cabin in a hurry. I spent the night with my head on the steering wheel.                                                                                          
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    Early the next day, the ferry arrived. We crossed the lake. Like by magic, a market with people selling breakfast appeared on the other side. We bought some plantain bananas on palm leaves and hot coffee and began to enjoy our meal. A woman, she couldn't be more than sixteen, came walking into our camp. She was naked as a jay bird and carrying a baby. 

Without saying a word, she settled down on a muddy bank of the lake to beg. I took some food to her and the baby. Everyone was watching me avidly, I almost tripped under such scrutiny. And I had my clothes on! 
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