John gave me the following photos and explanations when I met him and the teams in Kisangani just after their week-long return down the Lomami:
Our starting point was Katopa at the southern most navigable end of the forested Lomami River. We put in provisions for the trip, lashed the dugouts together where the river permitted and made ourselves as comfortable as possible.
Pierre, a polio victim and expert fisherman, was able to provide enough dried fish for all 20 of us for the first leg of the trip.
“The boat is relaxing. The passing forest is stunning in its diversity. And there are glimpses of bonobo, monkeys, and great birds. Last night, as the full moon rose it was positively sublime. Small fish jumping at the outlet of a small stream glittered like sequins in the moonlight.” (John’s notes)
I used the trip to de-brief team leaders. We had a little generator running in the stern to keep batteries charged.
“I especially appreciate having my team leaders with me now…No distractions, and the right venue for concentrated computer work, as we get our immense data base in order. Once we get to Kisangani, there will be scant time for such focus as the guys join their families after 4 months afield.”
Feeding everyone for a week on the water is rather a challenge. We do alright for protein and starch but get a bit hungry for greens.
When we were north of Opala we started to see other dugouts, though none of them were motorized.
In Kisangani we did a final debriefing, had a feast with staff and their wives, planned for the new year, and bid a temporary farewell. All are ready to meet again in 2009 for the dug-out return up the Lomami.