June 2006 (created 3-Jul-06 by Ken)
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Our intended flight was Chicago->Paris->Douala(Cameroon) but the Douala flight got cancelled because of a worker's strike at the airport and it was unknown when the airport would open again so there we were.. "stuck" in Paris. What to do.. what to do. Erica and I decided to make a short holiday of it and changed our flight to go straight into Bangui (CAR) five days later. By the time we got out of the airport we headed straight to a hotel, got some food, and slept. The next day Charlie and Erica ran off to Disneyland where they seem to have enjoyed the teacup ride immensely ...
Our hotel was near the airport so we took the train into town to see the sights. A couple of Canadian gals agreed to take this photo of us. They were in Paris with their husbands for a week, only the husbands had to be in meetings all day so the wives were out hitting the town. As long as you can figure out what train to get on the public transport system in Paris seems quite good.
Charlie is quite a good little photographer. Here is a 4 year old's view of her parents standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower.. eesh we are tall. This was the second level up and some beautiful sights from up there.
Top level of the Eiffel Tower, this time together with Charlie. She had no fear of the heights and really liked looking out over the city. She kept seeing new things and calling out for us to come and look.
Time to fly back to CAR. At this point our flights went pretty smoothly and here we are arriving back in Bayanga. This is one of the few pictures I have that shows most of the project houses, or at least their roofs. I've made a note on who lives where.
A near disaster. Two of Charlie's friends (Carol and Blandine) were sleeping in Charlie's room (Charlie was with us) so I had put a candle in a dish on the box that isn't burnt. The kids didn't blow out the candle before going to sleep and somehow (I think one of the girls bumped the box on the way to the toilet) the candle fell over and caught the other box on fire close to the bed and mosquito nets. Fortunately the girls woke up quickly and put out the fire so the only damage was a marred wall and a box full of melted barbies. While Charlie cried over the lost barbies ...
Derek, Maria and Cole arrive for a one week visit. This is an event we had been talking about since we left Saipan so we were very excited to see them, especially Charlie because Cole has always been one of her very best friends.
"Welcome To Bayanga Cole, Maria & Derek" says the sign that Charlie helped put together.
Day 1. I had to go do some shopping so Maria joined me for a tour of town while Derek rested a bit and Cole played with Charlie. After shopping we piled into the car and drove out to Andrea's camp in the park from where we could walk out to Dzanga Bai. There were only about 30 elephants in the bai for some reason, often there can be up to 100, but we all still enjoyed the visit. We had brought a bottle of wine to share but forgot the wine opener so we had to do the traditional "shove the cork into the bottle" routine in order to enjoy our treat. There were also ...
Days 2, 3 & 4. After a relaxing morning where we put Derek and Maria to work helping to move boxes around we packed up the car and headed to Bai Hokou. We spent two nights out at Bai Hokou, the relatively remote field camp where gorilla and mangabey habituation takes place. Here are our accomodations while in Bai Hokou, Chez Cochrane is on the left and Chez Ornes-Chambers is on the right. We arrived in time to prepare a nice dinner and make a program for the next couple of days before heading off to bed. There had been talk about a camp party ...
Day 5 was a day to play around the house.. and, at least for the kids, that meant running around naked for the most part. Here they are caught hiding under the table.
When not playing naked outside there was also good fun to be had doing dress up. Of course most of Charlie's costumes are geared towards a 4 year old girl, but Cole was game to give it a try and his mini-mouse fairy ensemble was pretty awesome. There was some debate over who got which purse and magic wand, but that quickly resolved itself and the kids had a ton of fun magically turning the adults into various things like vampires and ghosts and pirates.. or best yet, blood sucking ghost vampires.
Day 6 we arranged for everyone to participate on a BaAka net hunt and demonstration of medicinal plants. A huge element of this activity is the singing and clapping that takes place in the car as we gradually accumulate everyone we need for the hunt. We drove about 30 minutes to get to the site then piled out and headed into the forest. Over the course of the day the hunters had about 7 or more animals trapped in their nets, but to the dismay of the hunters all of the animals got away. The kids tired out quickly and spent most of the time with Erica chasing butterflies while Derek ...
Day 7 was another relaxing day around the house. Charlie and Cole got to paint a box (and themselves - see photo above) while Papa Pierre prepared roasted goat. Derek and I took a short drive into town to pick up some more supplies and to get a beer at Club Azure, a local bar next to the river. Amazing how quickly a week passes. Day 8. The next morning Derek, Maria and Cole climbed back into their small 4-seater plane and headed back to Bangui to catch their flight that night for Paris. For them it was time for the next leg of their adventure, Disneyland in Paris before heading ...