THE FOREST VOICES TOUR
diary

March 2nd 2014

Rain today. The sound on the tin roof is deafening. The clouds swirl overhead and thunder crashes around. All there is to do is to wait for it to stop. The Baka even have a word for "sitting waiting for the rain to stop" (sorry, I can't remember what it is).

There are good things about the rain though. The forest stays green. The empty water cistern (filled from the gutters on the music house) that has been empty will have a good foot of water in it after the storm. The rain clears the humidity and you know that after it stops it will be cooler and the sky will be a deep blue instead of the haziness that is normal in the dry season.

The morning after we returned from the gig in Moloundou I realised that someone had managed to open the shutters to my room and fish out my video camera that was on the bed. I'll have to go to Moloundou to report it to the police if only to satisfy the insurance company. At least it gives me a chance to have an omelette in one of the little cafés there and a cold beer in the bar.

The most dangerous thing we do when in the rainforest is to ride on the little motorbike taxis the 10km to Moloundou. Some drivers are fine, but some are not! After rain it can be very slippery, like ice. Andi comes too.


moto taxi

A couple of km before town is the police checkpoint, put there to tax the moto taxis so the police have some beer money. Since the troubles in Central African Republic there is a new brigade of troops based in Moloundou. They now man the road-block and, being just posted to Moloundou, don't know us like the local police do, so I'm expecting to have to argue with them why I shouldn't give them money, but since the gig in Moloundou the night before they do know us and wave us through. The power of music!

After eggs and Nescafé with condensed milk for breakfast we go to the Gendarmerie to see Mr Atchum. Ever since I gave him an old mobile phone and a glass of whiskey when he visited Gbiné a couple of years ago he's always very friendly. No way of getting any paperwork to keep the insurance company happy, but he will come out to Gbiné later and investigate the theft.


"The Hilton" café in Moloundou

We take the opportunity to visit the new Sous Prefet, the top man in Moloundou. All the past ones have been really friendly, but this guy was different. After telling us how intelligent he is, he went on to tell us that, being British, we must be really rich as the pound is worth more francs than the dollar and the euro. He suggested that we should give him a present. How about a Cadillac? He also told us that we would need authorisation from him for any concerts we do in any of the villages in the Moloundou district (about a 60km radius). Not what we want to hear. We stay humble and polite before taking our leave.

After taking advantage of the electricity in Moloundou to have an ice cold drink, we go shopping for supplies and find bikes to get us home. We take 2 separate bikes laden with sacks of peanuts, rice and other supplies. Half way back to Banana (the village where our Baka family are based) the rain returns so the driver and I shelter in a roadside hut until the storm passes. That's a wonderful thing about this part of Cameroon. No one would deny you shelter from a storm, so we pass the time in idle conversation about life, the universe sand everything.

Back in Banana we find that while we were away Clyde has made a "Kobo chair". Jeannot comes by with some Mutumbelumbe, large round seeds from a marsh liana (they are to be boiled, cracked open and eaten with meat).

Martin


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