African   Histories

The   African   Sickness

Virunga National Park

In one week we rose to one hour prudent for the first time, the 8 a.m because today it does not touch highway, but search of gorilas by the jungle; for a splendid day, something not very habitual because the jungle is very green and thickens, which means that it rains enough; the park has a very basic house of information where they tell some details us on gorilas of mountain, and in which a simple memory cannot be bought nor, for this people the marketing concept really does not exist; it will be of return in Uganda 2 days later when we pruned to buy a t-shirt with a photo of gorila of Virunga, to more than 500 km of distance. But good, the really important thing is the possibility of seeing gorilas, and for it one is divided to the expedition in 3 groups of 8 people each, since the contact with gorilas is limited a maximum of 10 people per day not to attack too much its habitat. To each one of the 3 to us groups rangers, 2 of them armed with old military guns that opened and closed the group and other provided with a machete accompany that will be revealed very necessary for the displacement by the jungle. To sight a family of gorilas has much of luck, since they move continuously and the impenetrable jungle can make you happen to little meters of them without DES tells you; it is for that reason that we have reserved up to 3 days in the camping, since the waiting list is great and we do not want to go to us without living that unique experience. After 2 hours walking by the jungle in a loaded humidity atmosphere and asking to me as devils could be oriented rangers, since there were datum points no and everything exactly seemed equal, we heard noises of animals in the head of the group, human shouts, and the figure of one of rangers that ran been frightened with the eyes outside its orbits; all we were scared very many and we asked ourselves that there was past, without letting run; when stopping the noises we stopped ourselves because they had said to us that if we lost ourselves in the jungle it were going to be very difficult that they found us, and when returning to group to us, we observed when ranger that it repeatedly shot to the weeds its gun; I was surprised of which gorila had attacked because it had read that was not aggressive, but did not know what had happened; a little more calmed already explained us that when being opening footpath in the jungle, they had been suddenly with a buffalo that was thrown in the grass surely sleeping, and that suddenly was it of you brush roaring and attacking, without giving time them to react; testuz had caught to one of rangers by the raincoat with his tearing it to it and making him lose its weapon; luckily one had left running towards another side; for that they have never seen a buffalo and they are surprised of this aggressiveness, it is enough to say to them that in Africa the greater number of died by fierce savages takes place by attacks of buffalos and not of lion, elephant either other apparently the more dangerous animals; for that it has never seen a buffalo, the double weighs that a bull, that to its side seems a domestic animal. Recovered of the scare and once ranger it found the weapon that was lost in the thickness, we retook the way with the fear in the body by the possibility of another encounter nonwished with the buffalo or any other animal that not outside gorila; in order to tranquilize rangers to us they said to us that the buffalo was a savannah animal and that he was very strange to find us with one in the jungle; with a nervous laughter I responded to them that perhaps it was a species of buffalo of mountains like gorilas. Half an hour more of long walk and suddenly she appears between the weeds the family of gorilas that placidly rests in a clear one of the jungle; a group of 3 females, a baby of few months and an impressive male of silver-plated back that could enviarte to the other world of tortazo; luckily it seems that our presence does not matter to them minimum and little by little we acquired the sufficient confidence to approach to us little meters, that yes, without watching to them to the eyes directly and with the submissive attitude that have recommended us rangers. The male is seated in the ground and he is limited to take branches that start off with an amazing facility to eat the central tender part; the one that yes it seems very interested in us is the baby who has the size of a boy of 3 years, and who approaches me with the intention to take the strap of my camera that oscillates while coat photographies; as we are warned to avoid the physical contact not to transmit no type to them of disease, retirement the strap with enormous annoyance on the part of the baby, who rises a tree and begins to shake it to show his anger, exactly just as had made any boy. In a while determined, and in view of that it seems that we take too much confidence, the male is gotten up in all spread, more than 2 meters and about 200 kg of weight, begin to go towards us, we became distressed ourselves excessively and submissively we crouched ourselves; the male approaches less of a meter of my, gives average return and returns to his branches, is a simple exercise of power but he has left very clear who offer there; after one hour of stay with them, we go away with the same sadness of whom one takes leave of a relative who goes away to a distant country and to that you do not know if you will return to see. Months later I read in a newspaper that had been born 20 babies of gorila in the park of Virunga and I felt very contented of which the family had grown. From return to the camping, we went exultantes, I not yet could be thought that there was been sharing one hour with a family of gorilas, and that had been everything so simple, so natural that my thoughts were of the type: " Still there is somebody can question the theory of the evolution, but if they are equal that we, with a little more hair ". During the return rangers had several doubts on the way to follow, which began to us to trouble because if we lost ourselves our friend was going to be very difficult that they could find us, surely that the buffalo would find us easily, but was a type of encounter that did not desire much to us. Finally they found a footpath, and from the return way very fast and it was animated there. When we arrived at the camping, we were the other 2 groups that already took enough short while there; they said to us that it had heard the firings and that they were on the verge of sending to look for to us because we took much; it is that one of the 2 groups found to its family of gorilas to less of half an hour of the camping, cost work to them to think that they could be so close; the other group had taken a little more but also it had found its family quickly; we said them that they did not complain, which we had had to walk by the jungle more than 3 hours, and undergone an unexpected encounter with a buffalo; we were all truely excited, teaching the video tapes to us that we had recorded. The rest of the day it step putting in order the received sensations in the encounter of gorilas; when years ago I saw the film " Gorilas in the fog ", rolled in the Ruwenzori, wondered myself what reason could take to a woman like Diane Fossey to leave totally to its family and friends and to resign to the comforts of the western life, to permanently risk in front of the furtive hunters and the families of gorilas. It is a question that surely had been without answer if that morning I did not have there been. The beauty of Mountains of the Moon, nights starred in a pure sky, and, mainly, the possibility of sharing so incredible experiences with our ancestros, is values more than sufficient to send carajo the car, the house, the television and all knick-knack that we considered civilization. With himself to clear all the accumulated dirt to me in the body with the old system of the African shower, that is to say, a earthenware bowl of water to the fire, and a regadera tied to the branch of a tree like system of shower, really delicious. We celebrated our encounter with gorilas roasting pig whole (the African are wild, black and much more small pigs that the supercharged European pigs), that prepare our African hosts, and singing under stars folkloric songs of each one from the countries to that we belong; I must explain several times without they create much to me that the Macarena is not Spanish folklore. The night in Virunga is very cold by the altitude and the humidity of the forest, reason why we crumpled up ourselves around the fire and we did not let also drink different licores from each one from the countries to that we belong. The night is extended... The morning wakes up to us with another splendid day that if it fits saddens to us more to have to leave this place so wonderful. We talked with the people who approach to dismiss to us, in Zaire French speech like language, in addition to the multiple languages and local dialectos; we discovered that many of the young people who that way work are joining money to be able to pay the dowry (we say it thus, because in fact it sounds more to a purchase) of their fiancées; they tell us that a woman comes to cost ten cows. It is happened to me that he would be interesting to process a panel with the quotation of the woman in the different parts from the world; in the Arab countries the quotation is in camels, India in fabrics, jewels and adornments, et cetera. It is the hour to start off; one becomes to repeat the history of the porteadores, this time if it fits crueler, because 200 children crowd around to certain distance of our knapsacks hoping the order of the overseer, who by the way is of the same age that they, but like he is the son of the owner of the camping, is in his right to carry a wood twig that I am safe will use without problems, as thus it happens; all the children rush themselves suddenly on our luggage, I take mine before the possibility that they destroy it, and the overseer, who is made call Johnie Walker, begins to distribute to varazos a.diestro.y.siniestro; after putting order in the tumult, he selects about to 30 porteadores and we began the return to Uganda; he saddens to think to me that by a dollar it has been possible to mount such scandal, is signal that the situation in Zaire to have to be dramatic. With these thoughts in the head that they prevent me to enjoy in all his fullness of the landscape that 2 days before we had crossed at night, we arrived at the border with Uganda; as the call " no-man's land " has a quite long extension, I imagine that to avoid conflicts, are many children who cross it in a species of patinetes giant of wood, very rustic but incredibly robust, that offers for llevarte the luggage or to you if it is necessary. Once we have arrived at the border and we have crossed it, we observed with preoccupation that our truck is not, we hoped to him during one hour, and finally it appears in the horizon; Greg, our Australian driver, had been delayed doing purchases with Johannes and for that reason she arrived late; either we are customary to that the time is moderate of another way in Africa, but really the truck is or an prolongation of our bodies, and after 2 days without raising him, or we had " monkey ". We again undertake our way towards the mountainous highways, crossing to us continuously our suicidal friends of the trucks of the WFP, without incidents that to review; to the dusk we happened near a very beautiful lake, the Banyony, located to about 2,000 meters of altitude, and decided to mount the camping there; I remain extasiado contemplating to the sun putting on mountains and the rustic boats crossing the lake; it must have enough fishing because continuously we see show heads by the surface of the lake, comment to us that even otters; as it is growing dark the noises at night surround to us and with all clearness well-known ones can be distinguished some, like ducks and cornejas, and other that are totally new for us; with the last lights, the atmosphere begins to also fill of scents of plants and sinfín of fireflies crosses as it stars fleeting the air; finally, surrounded as we are of mountains, the starred sky seems a vault that the firmament covers totally, one has the sensation of which some small point of light of million that are seen in the sky somehow is related to you. When the cold begins to make an impression on our bones, we approached the fire where already for short while the others have been beginning the interchange of licores and folkloric songs. He is Domingo and I discover it when we arrived at a called town Kabale with the intention to supply to us of foods; while the Intendance group goes to the market, we cross the town throwing an eye to the multiple churches that lay out the highway, adventists, pentecostistas, baptists, catholics, whom they leave precious cánticos; people go very elegant with her suits of Domingo, and a girl of our group is the sensation of the town, because she takes short very fitted and all the men and children watch it and they leave themselves from laughter, or timidly twist the Vista, that yes, to return to watch immediately, finally decides to put something a little more discreet, is not going to be that we cause a tumult. Once provided with foods, we return to the highway, and after awhile our truck she begins to renquear, it seems as if thousand of kilometers crossed they weighed to him too much, loses force in the hills and one moves to speed of turtle, until the cyclists advance to us; luckily, good not by necessity, our driver Greg also is mechanic, and she puts herself to the task; after awhile it discovers that in the last re-fuelling has had us to mix the diesel oil with water, because the oil filter is totally dirty, but it fixes it quickly and immediately we return to the highway with our dear Mercedes; an additional problem considers to us, and is that the potable water tanks that we took and that they serve us to drink, to mop the earthenware vessels, to cook, et cetera, are almost empty, and something as simple as to fill up a water tank in Europe, can be returned very complicated in Africa, we stopped in several stations on watch of Mbaraba, a town located in the highway, but in no of them they have water, only all the diesel oil who we want, I ask myself like is possible that the diesel oil with water in the previous re-fuelling had mixed us if it seems that she is littler than the fuel, insurance that was not potable! We did not go to a camping where they can help us, but have water either there, reason why we followed way until a peculiar called hotel Jungle Lodge Paradise located in slope in the throat of a river, and they allow us to encamp to the entrance. We lowered, and although the current is enough strong we occur a refrescante bath, we let ourselves take 50 meters by the current, and returned running by the margin of the river to throw itself again, very amused; the hotel is very peculiar, organized in descendent terraces, had to be at its quite spectacular time, but now it seems a little declining; it seems that we are the unique ones that we are in favor of the zone, so after having supper we approached to awhile share of African music and drinks in the bar

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