Captain’s Log-9 August 2012- Scouting Nyankunde

Driving down a beautiful dusty road on the back side of Congo

Three days spent outside of Bunia was going to be great.  Nyankunde is only 14 miles by air but everything changes.  It is a village and not a town.  Dirt roads actually belong there.  It has always amazed me that we need to 4X4 here in the provincial capital of Bunia during rainy season because the roads are so bad.  You kind of think your taxes would do something in the way of services.  But a bush life is really great.  John Woodberry and I are still scoping out the security situation to see if it is a good time to move some people back to our base there.

Maki, John Woodberry and myself on the Yamaha 125 cc motorcycles loaned to us by Dr. Mike at the Hospital.

Because we have 2 hangars and a bunch of houses in Nyankunde it could be so useful for us to have at least a limited use of those facilities for maintenance, if nothing else.  So we drove all over the area, talked to people from different groups and tried to see the difference between all the rumors and the reality.

Some women from the Geti area walk to the market in Marabo to sell their goods. This is the road we were driving up in the Land Cruiser but could only go a few more kilometers up the road to Sezabo before we had to turn back.

Some of the men along the road who wanted to have a picture with the visitors before going on our way.

With the headquarters of one of the many militia groups right over the hill around 15 miles away, there have been incidences of violence in the past.  But for the last year it has been pretty peaceful.  With our local MAF worker Kazi and the chief of the village area, Gaston, we took the Land Cruiser up one dirt road out of the village until we were very close to the “front lines” of rebel area.  The road got so bad we could go no further so after talking to people from this village we came back and switched to motorcycles to see if we could get further afield. The Nyankunde hospital had 3 Yamaha 125cc bikes that they use to visit clinics.  Dr. Mike kindly allowed us to borrow them and for the next couple of days we went all over the mountains scouting the area and talking to people.  How exhilarating.

Children all along the way yelled and waved and made us feel like we were in a big parade. They also wanted to touch the Mzungu if they could. I am sitting on a motorcycle somewhere under all those kids.

We were hill climbing up very steep mountains over rutted areas with stones as large as basketballs and over cut thatching grass that is amazingly slippery, right at the limit of what the bikes could do.  Or maybe it was the drivers limitations, but in any case, we got a real workout and I fell at least 3 times in that climb. We crossed broken down bridges and thru areas of mud or dust.  All the while, kids cheered and waved at us as if we were the stars in a parade.  Not a lot of “mzungus”, white people, had been that way for years. We talked with soldiers, a veterinarian, people in markets, chiefs, kids, doctors.  It was a wonderful time.

People always say “you should have seen this just a few seconds earlier”. Well, I was surrounded by cattle, horns and tails. It was wonderful.

On the drive home we stopped and walked a few kilometers back in to a beautiful series of waterfalls I had seen from the air on a recent flight.  Jean Luc “dared” me to go under the water, so of course I did.  Very invigorating and a nice end to the trip.

Walking back into a waterfall was the perfect end to a great day. Very exhilarating!

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7 Responses to Captain’s Log-9 August 2012- Scouting Nyankunde

  1. Rich Carlson says:

    Did not realize that you were an accomplished dirt biker as well. More prayers. Rich

  2. LuAnne Cadd says:

    What a great trip! I’m so envious. And I would also like to know the assessment of the security situation. I’m surprised that this is still being considered. I can tell you first hand that there’s no such thing as peace in Congo. It’s an illusion. Be wise. Moving back to Nyankunde is completely illogical. Times have changed. No one goes there anymore. But you know my opinion.

    • jcadd says:

      Hey Lulubelle my little sister, You should talk. Where are you!?! It is kind of like choosing Rumangabo over Goma. City over village/bush. Yes, there can be problems as you know. But we try to manage risks as best we can to do the best we can here with what we have to work with. As you know, we are certainly not here for the money! Love you, Jon

  3. Jon,
    I love reading your blog. You just seem to love your life so much — the way you describe it, it seems so rich and full. You love the people, you love the country, you love flying, you love the bush, you love learning new things — you even seem to love failing because of the loving and humorous response you get from the people. God bless you for what you do. When LuAnne finally finds her publisher, maybe you should be the one to write the text — at least for the Africa parts of her life!

    Love you,
    Cindy (Montgomery) Wyneken

    • jcadd says:

      Hey Cindy, How wonderful to hear from you. It has been a long time since the Philippines. I know you talk to Lu a lot but it is always great to reconnect with old friends. It is like you say, I do love my job/life/people/wife and that is a true blessing. Thankfully, it is something we can make a choice to do often in spite of circumstances. If you look for the good bits they are there. Cheers for now, Jon

  4. Walt Everly says:

    You don’t say what you’ve concluded regarding the viability of returning to Nyankunde after your excursion. Is that something not to be discussed on line? Actually I was surprised to read that it was even being considered, given the recent escalation of violence not terribly far from you. You are both in my thoughts and prayers!

    • jcadd says:

      Hey Walt, As you know from your time here things change rapidly on a regular basis. The situation can look quite good and go south the next day. We just have to set good triggers for ourselves to watch for and keep up on trends. It is an interesting country to live in, that is for sure. cheers brother,
      Jn

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