Sunday, September 30, 2012

Congo Basin Rain Forest & Beaucoup Bonobos

A favorite stopping place on the way to see the Bonobos.
This is where the Church, working through the Humanitarian Couple,
the Binghams, captured a spring so that the village could get clean water.
A latrine was also built for the Catholic school nearby.
Happily, it's also the location for the bakery, from which comes great bread.
These women were washing clothes in a pond near the spring.

The young girl in the back ground is getting a big kick out of us,
while the boy was not so sure before he gave permission to take his picture.
The padding on his head is to help him carry
a large container of water back to his home.
The sign states that the spring is a gift to the village from
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A shy and sweet girl about to fill her bucket.
After that, she too will put it on her padded head.
The full bucket will weigh almost 36 lbs.
This young man was asked by the bakery owner to go get another sack of flour.
He came back laughing as the kids teased him for being a "Mundele" (white-skin).
In the background, one woman is about to depart with her bread.
If you look closely, you might also spot "Superman"!
I never get tired of seeing this old Belge train station across from the bakery.
It's where the Belgian residents in Kinshasa would come by train
for a "get away" weekend to the large nearby lake.
Now the VERY old train cars sit rusting
and locals use the narrow gauge tracks to walk along.
Across the tracks is a busy road with rare autos and frequent pedestrians.
This guy's load should have had a red flag at the end.
The towering, arching, giant bamboo.
Paradisiacal beauty, lacking only a white sand beach
 to be perfect for this Florida gal.
What frog wouldn't love this?
This was previously a Belge resort.
The olympic-size pool goes unused now, but the pavilion
serves as the place for visitors to watch a video about the bonobos
and begin a guided tour.
When the guide called, we heard loud, piercing shrieks from the trees.
Then at the upper part of this picture, we could see a steady stream
of bonobos coming down the path.
This guy was well ahead of the others and
made so many human-like expressions and gestures
 that I had the strange sensation that he was "talking" to us.
left to right: a mother with her older baby, 1 or 2 yr. old.
(they are four years old before they become independent)
 and a fertile female.
This mother carried her little one almost all of the time.
He scrambled over and around her in every possible position,
but she always had him, even when she was swinging through the trees.

When we left the fenced area & walked across the pond,
we could still see the one that arrived first hanging around at the fence.
The jungle is so dark and dense, that sometimes it was hard to spot
the Bonobos unless they moved to swing on a limb.
I will challenge all the children in my family to find them in this picture.
There are four, but you are doing good to find three.
It was a marvel to see them begin swinging from limb to limb.
The word "effortless" doesn't even begin to describe the ease
with which they moved.  This picture is relatively close to the ground,
but sometimes they were a hundred feet high in tall trees.
We did witness a couple of times when limbs gave way
and they fell, but it never seemed to do them harm or matter to them.

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This guy reminded me of one of the characters in "Planet of the Apes".
Bonobos are the most "human-like" of the primates.
And, as with our last visit to the Bonbobos,
we had one who struck "The Thinker's" pose.
Just a little glimpse of some lush jungle growth.
I wanted to take a picture of George, so he hid behind the tree.
He probably thought I wanted to compare him
 with pictures of the Bonobos and was afraid
they'd look better.
But, a quick sneak picture caught him looking at an interesting scene.
Obviously, the Bonobos are advanced in some important ways.
One of those exotic flowers found at in the Congo Basin Rainforest.
A nice little African rest stop on the way back...
(but no conveniences)
The four primates:
Top.. Gorilla, Orangutan
Bottom.. Chimpanzee, Bonobo
Bonobo Primate Reserve
The last part of the visit was to the "playground/nursery"
 for some of the younger animals.
This one was drinking water from a bottle (refilling from the pool below him).
Those in the background were playing with a ball, almost like a soccer game.
One guy was practicing his back flips and did an excellent job.
I think this is bougainvillea not yet at peak but still beautiful
with the delicate palms framing it.
You don't have to have a green thumb here.
Just stand back and keep out of the way.
Like most children we see on these trips,
this little boy and his even tinier sister we so excited
to wave to us as we passed them.
They just do not see Mundeles very often.
We stopped at the resort lake that people from Kinshasa still frequent.
Across from the covered eating and entertainment area
was this religious shrine.  We believe it's a statue of Christ. 
Every few steps presented another beautiful scene.
We all walked a ways over logs and narrow stone dams,
but Elders Smith & Moon were more adventurous & went out of sight.
Being a concerned wife,
I called out & asked George if his life insurance was paid up.

This old tree stump out in the pond had several
 types of plants and ferns growing out of it.
Seems like a smaller version would make a good houseplant.
These scenes still take my breath away!
A group of Jehovah's Witnesses were having choir practice
under the trees by the lake.
When stayed and enjoyed listening to them sing for awhile
 and then applauded and gave them a "thumbs up" as we left.
A common operation in this area is brick-making.  
You can see young & old on the side of a road,
chipping away at rocks to make gravel to sell.
They will do this for hours in the hot sun and make almost nothing.
This is a popular place for those few Congolese who can afford
to get away from the city.
It features very old cabins, food & entertainment.
Can you imagine the beating these old vehicles take
transporting loads this size?  I believe this one was running,
but the guy is adjusting the rope... thank you!
While stuck in traffic on the way back to Kinshasa,
we got to see lots of interesting people and things.
I thought this dress & turban were nice.
I'd actually seen this same guy a couple weeks before while traveling this road,
but wasn't fast enough to get his picture then.
He LOOKED sane.
Yet another beautiful woman and dress.
The sarong, found on many Congolese dresses,
serves as a nice addition to the lower part of the dress,
a shawl if they are chilly (yes, even in the Congo),
or a baby carrier tied in such a way that
baby is safe and secure.
This was a GREAT capture of the "Laputa" hair style.
Very distinctive and not my favorite,
but interesting.
Can you guess what all four of these people have in common?
They are ALL sitting on a regular sized motorcycle.
The taxis do not go far into some areas, so people use this.
We've actually seen FIVE on a cycle!

This is a popular fabric pattern for men or women.
Bold and bright and very Congolese.
But the pastel pink in with shiny satin cannot be ignored either.
A "street" we went down.
I wish I had a wide angle lens to show ALL the variety of goods
for sale on this street.
I've seen this man in the same spot
sitting, laying, sleeping.
I think it's his "home".
Part of the "New & Improved" Trente Juin... the showpiece boulevard.
These are metal posts being put in to HELP the cars stay
on their own side of the middle.  
How's this for a dependable spare tire?
Yes, she IS apparently one of the official street sweepers
(note official day-glo vest)
Yes, she IS sweeping the street.
No, we don't know why the 85 degrees
was hot enough for flip flops, but cold enough for the shawl.
If anything beats a  pink shirt, it's pink shirt AND pants.
And, this guy has not excuse... he isn't even Congolese.
One of the scariest of the 3 or 4 dread-locked "scary street men".
Now THAT is a Congolese smile personified!
This pink turban and dress were made of silk.  Gorgeous!
Couldn't post a blog without a great pajama shot.
My first visit to the Commerce Street "marché".
Invited to go with Chantal, her mom Janene, & driver Naom.
What an experience.  There was EVERYTHING for sale,
including about 1,000 shoes (999 of which Chantal tried on).
When we left Commerce Street, we hit 5 o'clock rush hour.
Of course, everyone knows that Kinshasa traffic abhors a vacuum,
so if there is a lane open, you take it (even if it's the opposing side's).
So, we had four lanes against us as far as the eye could see...
 But, what looked like an impasse, became a miracle... out of nowhere
came a friendly, helpful policeman and SOMEHOW,
we got one of the four lanes back and found our way home.
A blurry picture, but such a dapper guy.  Pink belt and tie w/ purple suspenders
and a cap to top it off!
We see this truck often and it makes me happy.
Whoops!  Another pajama sighting... can I get a closer picture?
YES, I can!
It's OK to fit a round pipe in a square truck bed
IF the piper is smaller than said bed.
The mass of vendor-humanity crowded along the bank of a creek.
While accompanying Pascal & George, we drove through a part
of this street that was solid water for about 1/2 a block.
When we got to THIS one, it seemed puny,
but was hiding a very deep hole.
I have so much sympathy for the albinos that we see here.
They have a lot of trouble being accepted
(some tribal traditions link them to witchcraft)
I'm not sure why this girl chose to wear a dark wig
but she really stood out in the area we were driving.
Bright color and attractive insets.
We laughed when we saw this pick up coming toward it.
The shocks were so bad & load so heavy
that the truck barely cleared the road.
One pin hole in a $20 dollar bill was enough for the bank to refuse it.
They will accept any Franc, no matter how black & torn in pieces.
But, the smallest flaw on a USD will get it returned.
You might wonder if the person responsible for this
knows any English.
But, "En Francais" it means "Wave"...
The preferred method to keep trucks with no brakes from rolling.
Someone is assigned to jump out & place the rock, brick or whatever
until the traffic moves again.
Another street scene... some pretty Congolese dresses,
a Congolese casual suit, a guy on his cell phone,
and a couple folks with distressed jeans no different
than the ones that my daughter, Joanne, bought
ON SALE for $125.
Once upon a time, Goldilocks thought her hair was "tooo blonde".
So she went to the hairdresser....
When he had finished, she said, "Oh dear! Now it is tooo dark!"

So, she went to get it fixed the next day
 and now it is... no, not "just right".
But, the greenish-yellow highlights 
will probably fade with time.

A zoom shot across the Congo River
of a view of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo..
taken from our wrap-around porch/roof.
We will leave the office at 8am to catch the boat
and spend two days there.  Can't wait!!