Quick definition. Pirogue: Dugout canoe. Large, possibly +30 metres long. Made from one single trunk of a forest tree. Can take up to one month to hollow it out with hand tools. Need a very large tree to make one. Very labour intensive like most things out here in DR Congo.
This is turning out to be the key obstacle for the project at the moment.
The Mbandaka team has been here in Kisangani for over 2 weeks now and it is the principal job of Jonathan to find the right pirogues. He has searched high and low for good ones. Very frustrating and tiring in the burning heat of the day.
Then you get situations like has happened over the past couple of days. Jonathan finally found one. It was huge and in very good condition and he contacted the proprietor about buying it. They arranged to meet and discuss the price.
Well the first 2 times they were to meet the proprietor cancelled at the last minute after the guys had left to go and speak to him. 2 days gone by. Finally tonight (Tuesday, 29/5/2007) they met up with him.
The proprietor started off on a big spiel about how he had talked to his family and friends about the pirogue and that there was an important family reunion coming up, and so on and so on. So finally they got onto the price. He didn’t want money but a brand new outboard motor 25v Yamaha. We have just bought one of those and it cost $3,500 not including transporting it to Kisangani from Kinshasa. Add another $200 for that at least.
He did not want money even if we matched that crazy price.
My budget IS $2,000 for TWO pirogues– one big one and one tag-along little one (for emergencies).
So the search goes on.