Category Archives: nature

“Africa on a Pin & a Prayer” Excerpt From the Book

Views down the highway!!! This was an inland super highway. Didn’t need a machete for.

American Press Travel News–Excerpt from Bob’s Book: Africa on a Pin & a Prayer”–Camping and Traveling Through  Uganda, Africa, Part 1

During our travels to this Northern area of Uganda, we came close to the border with Sudan and arrived at a prison. The prison warden allowed travelers in to a special store area, where handmade items crafted by the inmates could be purchased. These hand crafted items were made by prisoners, who were incarcerated for every crime known to man; including political crimes against the immediate, yet temporary rulers of the government (Idi Amin took over and had everyone killed that did not agree with him a bit later on after we were long gone). These inmates, just like the license plate makers in American prisons, earn their keep by making tribal animal skin covered drums, spears, medicine masks, African musical instruments and woodcarvings.
During our travels through, over and along the dusty, rutted roads of this area, we stopped frequently to look at exotic trees and bushes such as the giant and curious cucumber tree, with large inedible cucumber like fruits hanging down to the ground, alongside the road.
We saw several varieties of flowering cacti; they showed us a rainbow of colors that seemed to have been painted by Picasso.
Driving along, we would suddenly come across giraffes that towered above some of the acacia trees, which they fed on. Herds of zebra would suddenly race across the road in front of us, and we would come to an abrupt stop and marvel at the sight of thundering hoofs kicking up dust all around us.
Occasionally, impala would prance along side the road, being chased by predators or perhaps just frightened by our vehicle.
We had passed safely over a bridge one day and returning the next day, we found that same bridge washed out. Auto’s not equipped as we were with our four-wheel land rover, were stranded and backed up near the bridge, unable to fiord the swift waters that was caused by sudden overnight heavy thunderstorms.
After assessing the situation, I climbed up and along a walkway railing that did not wash away with the bridge, and affixed a cable from our winch to a sturdy tree trunk across the swollen brook. I went back, started the winch and dragged our land rover, across the stream. To the accompaniment of envious stares, by those that were not similarly equipped, (they were driving MGA’s and road sedans) and were forced to remain trapped on the other side.
Continuing on back towards the Uganda capitol of Kampala, we came across a family cooking a stew over a bright red-hot coal fire. We approached and saw that they had lizards and other animals they had captured and gathered for their subsistence meal, that was their fare probably since time began.
We were invited to join in out of courtesy and hospitality, but Gene and I had a difficult time doing so because we were just not ready to take on foods that hadn’t been cleaned and processed, or at least had their bowels and intestines removed. This was not the case later on in our trip when we ate things that today I wouldn’t even think of touching-acute hunger can make you do things otherwise.
One thing we learned the hard way in Africa was, that refusing the hospitality of a shared repast, was an insult to those that invited you to “break bread” or lizard with them. Informality was belching and displaying other natural body noises such as flatulence, which was expected and was a clear sign to your hosts that all was well and acceptable and it proved satiation to all around you.
So when we understood this, we belched out loud often, after each and every meal. That is, the meals we obtained and could get to stay down, the victuals we did not have to sneak under the table to the dogs in waiting. Part 2 March 22.

Our Land Rover loaded with trade goods!! That’s Dr. Gene!!

Heading to Leopold From Kisali, The Congo

 

As we traveled we traded and collected items that were not trade goods for the traveler!! The items were used by the locals themselves.
American Press Travel News–March 19th, Leopoldville The Congo section of my book: “Africa on a Pin & a Prayer.”
We left Kisali on the “boat” a riverboat pushing a huge barge a microcosm of African life being pushed along by a 2000 horsepower diesel engine turning a paddlewheel that splashed at the river and inexorably pushed more than 1000 souls along a river that hasn’t changed since, or before written history one iota. Congolese minister’s concubines took up most of the riverboat rooms and Gene and I got lucky enough with the help of a Belgian business man, to grab one of those rooms and we camped out there. God had mercy, we did not have to sleep on the deck with the water bugs and other slimy critters that came out on deck under cover of darkness. We settled in for a 20-day run to Leopoldville. I spent a lot of time on the barge. I visited the Cayman croc sellers, the fruit and vegetable vendors and looked over the booty and bounty of what many villagers had bagged in the jungle’s hinterlands smoked monkeys, boa constrictor snakes for food or sale to collectors, butterflies kept in between palm leaves, also for the collector. Raw latex from Goodman’s Goodyear rubber plantation on its way to be processed into gloves, tires, rubber boots, condoms. Wildly colorful songbirds and parrots, snakes, monkeys, sloths, bamboo and logs destined for trading in the capitol of the Congo, Leopoldville.
Every minute was an adventure on the riverboat. Villagers whose huts hugged the river banks along the way, braved the boats wake and came out to the barge in pirogues hollowed out wood log dugout canoes, to trade fresh produce, including cut pieces of sugar cane a favorite treat for everyone aboard.
All the things done in the village were being accomplished on the barge as it was pushed at about 5 mph towards Leopoldville was being done there. Clothes washing, cooking child care and even love making on the decks sometimes behind a cloth shade.
Drinking fresh. clean water out of a cut vine!!!

 

Excerpts From Finally Published “Africa on a Pin & a Prayer

AMERICAN PRESS TRAVEL NEWS–MARCH 9TH,–BOB’S WRITERS CABIN-GOOSE HOLLER’ FARM-Leopoldville The Congo.

My first book lover!
She wantged my Africa and Goldie the Goldfish book!

We left Kisali on the “boat” a riverboat pushing a huge barge a microcosm of African life being pushed along by a 2000 horsepower diesel engine turning a paddlewheel that splashed at the river and inexorably pushed more than 1000 souls along a river that hasn’t changed since, or before written history one iota. Congolese minister’s concubines took up most of the riverboat rooms and Gene and I got lucky enough with the help of a Belgian business man, to grab one of those rooms and we camped out there. God had mercy, we did not have to sleep on the deck with the water bugs and other slimy critters that came out on deck under cover of darkness. We settled in for a 20-day run to Leopoldville. I spent a lot of time on the barge. I visited the Cayman croc sellers, the fruit and vegetable vendors and looked over the booty and bounty of what many villagers had bagged in the jungle’s hinterlands smoked monkeys, boa constrictor snakes for food or sale to collectors, butterflies kept in between palm leaves, also for the collector. Raw latex from Goodman’s Goodyear rubber plantation on its way to be processed into gloves, tires, rubber boots, condoms. Wildly colorful songbirds and parrots, snakes, monkeys, sloths, bamboo and logs destined for trading in the capitol of the Congo, Leopoldville.
Every minute was an adventure on the riverboat. Villagers whose huts hugged the river banks along the way, braved the boats wake and came out to the barge in pirogues hollowed out wood log dugout canoes, to trade fresh produce, including cut pieces of sugar cane a favorite treat for everyone aboard.
All the things done in the village were being accomplished on the barge as it was pushed at about 5 mph towards Leopoldville was being done there. Clothes washing, cooking child care and even love making on the decks sometimes behind a cloth shade.

First Pygmies we saw on our trip through the Ituri Rain Forest, in the Congo! The dogs wooden clacker bells scared snakes away from the path, ahead of the men. Also the men could keep track of the dogs as they ran through the forest. These dogs did not bark!!
Dope salesman in Kampala, Uganda. Offered a bag of black gunge for 50-cents to me! No didn’t buy it!!!

 

Another Excerpt from my Book: “Africa On A Pin & A Prayer.”

Africa On a Pin & a Prayer
signed copies available
now! Go bobepstein@aol.com

Excerpt from my book: “Africa on a Pin & a Prayer.”

My god, it’s the middle of the night we are deep in the hinterlands of the Congo suddenly after a plunge off of a log bridge, dark swirling muddy water quickly rose around my neck than over my head. A moment before my mouth was covered I yelled screamed to Gene my traveling companion we’re, dead we’re dead.” In complete darkness, I kicked my way through the water out the open window on the drivers right side of our British Land rover Gene did the same. We made our way to a muddy bank and crawled out and up through slippery vegetation up the embankment that led to the dirt road we had just propelled ourselves off, into one of the most serious predicaments of our travels through Africa. Wet, scared and bedeviled immediately by the cacophony of frog peepers and coughs of jungle cats, we made our way back towards a village that we had passed a few miles back. Racing through my mind was “would we get out of this one”, would I ever see my mother and family again, can we salvage the vehicle which was literally our lifeboat in a sea of seething uncertainty, in a country who was in chaos and basically swimming in state of anarchy.