I read the news this morning in the constant flow of the massive river carrying clumps of hyacinths, islands at times, to their end where? After rising at 4:30 or 5 I shuffle to the tiled shower enclosure where I pour five or six small buckets of water from above before applying the shampoo and soap. Refreshed from the cool water shave as well, the celebration of the breeze on opening the front door is the final preparation for contemplation of the river.
Traffic on the majestic freeway 75 yards below my front porch picks up by 6 am. Each pirogue carrying a story of graceful struggle, they hug the bank at this hour, intent on marketing their load of firewood, fish, greens, roofing, poles, monkey and more exotic items which I must file for explanation later. Two women pole the river bottom at each end of a long pirogue with firewood loaded four feet high. Their small enterprise reminds me of the boat with a load of gigantic hard wood which passed in the middle of the river several days before.
The story of the hard woods emerges from various conversations detailing the cutting of select giants of the rain forest. Two informants report that villagers in Equateur province are paid on average $3.50 per tree for the virgin hard woods. On reaching Kinshasa, the Congolese logging company is paid nine thousand dollars for a tree which will cost fifty two thousand dollars in Germany. It is much the same with the diamonds, coltan and other precious minerals dug from Congolese soil with this important exception: much of the mineral wealth benefits middlemen of the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda more than those of the Congo.
My neighbor in the duplex next door approaches for a brief exchange of commentaries on the scenes played out on the river and then we are interrupted and the day’s business begins. I prepare a cup of coffee with Nescafe, powdered milk and sugar (we do things different here KT!) before sitting down to a bowl of oatmeal which I will flavor with papaya, bananas and honey. The radio news lead story during breakfast reports that President Obama has dismissed General Mc Crystal as Commander of U.S./Allied troops in Afghanistan.