Thursday, April 5, 2012
Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo
Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo Cruising up to Pointe Noir we came through the offshore oil fields. The atmosphere was redolent of Northern NJ on the turnpike. Fires were burning at the top of each one,to burn off the natural gas. It was amazing to see how many rigs there are out here in the ocean, and ow long it took to get past them cruising at 16 knots. Congo was a bit of a disappointment. Tchimpounga ( the Jane Goodall chimp sanctuary) was closed because of the fire there earlier this year. It took longer than expected to clear the ship, so our excursion was cut short. We only had a few minutes to wander a craft market that was the first one to have interesting fabrics and masks. The Diosso Gorge was very pretty. They compare it to the Grand Canyon, but that is rather a large stretch. The overlook where we stood was a sandy bank. Of course there were no barriers, and we were cautioned no to get too close to the edge. Swifts we're darting around, and we saw a small raptor. Far below we're red flowers,perhaps a vine of some sort. We went to a small museum that was the home of the king of Loango. Behind it were 4 small shacks to house his 6 wives. There were many everyday objects, such as farm tools,and cooking pots that would lead you to believe that you were in a 19th C. house. He was actually king from 1953 to 1975. What has been most interesting is driving through the countryside and seeing how people live. It reminds me of Haiti when I was there in 1981. The houses are small shacks,sometimes leaning crazily, as if a puff of wind would blow them over. Many of the women are dressed in bright colorful fabrics with matching kerchiefs on their heads, and often carrying loads on their heads. It is an interesting way to carry a case of coke home from the market! I have had the opportunity to practice my rusty French. The people here speak really fast, and I have had a great deal of difficulty understanding them, but it is fun to connect with folks.