DAY THIRTY-ONE Another slow day. Linda and I walked round to a little salon where Linda got her hair plaited African-style. The afternoon, as usual, was spent relaxing then in the evening we packed up everything and went down to the wharf where we boarded the MB LOKOLE, the motor barge that we are going to travel down the river to Bomba on.
We were assigned deck space on “top middle deck” which turned out to be about 30 square feet of steel deck amongst a mass of cargo and natives. With a hold full of dried fish, the smell of which is appalling, it is shaping up to be a memorable trip¹.
Not wanting to spend all night on board, most of us went to see the finals of the local version of “Wrestlemania”. Snake has a haircut similar to a guy called “Dingwi”² who is a champ wrestler so he was honoured with an invitation to be a “guest referee.”
Unfortunately, he had to referee a bout featuring a maniac called “Gorilla” who didn’t take kindly to having a Muzungu³ in the ring and chased him out! The fights were the usual ludacris matches with wrestlers called Voodoo, Hallelujah, etc.
The match finished at about 12:30 and we walked back down to the wharf and spent a reasonably comfortable night on the deck.
¹Some of these entries are in the present tense, written whilst sitting on the bow of that steel barge as it made its way down the Zaire River.
² Snake had gotten a haircut somewhere along the road which was shaved up the sides with a mushroom-like top. Wherever we went in Zaire, people would shout out “hey Dingwi” to him. It wasn’t until we were in Kisangani that we realised that they were referring to the wrestler who had an identical hairstyle!
³Muzungu is an African slang word for “white man.”