DAY SIXTEEN Ian and I got up at 5:30 and got the fire going and cooked up a pot of porridge which we ate with milk and golden syrup. The camp was packed up by 7:15 and we hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Goma. The road was pretty rugged but eventually we got to Goma and parked in the main street. Our first priority was the post office where there were two letters from Joe¹, one from Helen² and one from Ola³. Joe’s letter had all the news from home, some newspaper clippings and 2 photos: one of Mick and Jock at a party at the Pass†, and one of Joe’s house with a fresh fall of snow around it.
We changed money at the bank after finding the black market rate only marginally better then the official rate, then had lunch and wandered round. It is fun trying to converse in French which is the national language of Zaire. We bought some meat, cheese and bread and generally hung around the truck to guard it from the crowd of shady looking characters that had gathered. Skip negotiated the sale of some dope and we abused the kids in English which they couldn’t understand! We left town in the late afternoon, having hung around to pay for our trip up to see the mountain gorillas, and drove to a quarry about 2 miles out of town where we set up camp, had a huge tea of stew, spuds and carrots, then several of the team members got stoned out of their skulls!!
² Linda’s mother
³ Linda’s friend
† My cousin Mick Gillingham and Jock Brien, a local shepherd and shearer that I had often worked with during my time as a shepherd. Mick and Jock were at a party in the Burkes Pass Hotel, a country pub where I had spent many happy, drunken hours during my days as a shepherd.