August 13 & 14, 2017
After our final Gorilla Trek, our driver met us to whisk us away to Mikeno Lodge down the mountain and deeper in the Jungle. Hmmm…whisk might be an overstatement…there is no whisking in the Congo…It’s more like bouncing us down to Mikeno.
We all spent time looking out the windows watching the villagers going to church, since we quickly realized it was Sunday. That explains why all the men and women were so dressed up. The women were dressed in the brightest and most colorful outfits. The children looked all spiffy but still were running around playing…I saw several mothers trying to corral their boys…but to no avail…they were definitely running off some energy.
It seems kids start working as early as 5 or 6. Work could be getting water or pushing this odd looking 3 wheeled cart filled to the brim with supplies…or they may be working in the fields…regardless, they are working…so I am sure Sunday is a wonderful reprieve.
This trip is all about adventure so I have had little interaction with Villagers. I definitely hope to return and maybe spend more time with locals. Congo is in pretty bad shape for those who have to live here. Besides the constant war, the poverty is immense…But then, I did see that almost every house or shanty had some sort of garden with veggies. This land here is so very fertile that it seems anything can grow. From what I have able to gather from the locals I have had the pleasure to speak with, he social and family structures are quite strong. Communities work together. It really is something that I don’t see too often in the States. We are always so concerned about our individual rights and concerns that we sometimes forget we live in communities that would be better served if we all participated and learned to take care of each other. Like many developing nations, they may be materially poor but they are morally rich.
Once we arrived at Mikeno, we were greeted, as we have been everywhere, with big smiles and welcomes. Once again, Claire and Noel and I settled in for a wonderful lunch. They started us with a Spinach soup that was beyond delicious…It reminded me of the fabulous Garlic Soup in Nepal…sans the spice that cause me to swell up (-:
Just because it was so delicious I will give the ingredients that the chef gave me…
Onion,Garlic & potato …fry in olive oil…add some sweet corn and some salt & pepper…then add basil, milk and water and boil in the pan then let cool put those ingredients into the boiling water…Let cool…put in raw spinach and then blend…It’s yummy!!!
After our wonderful lunch, we went to our respective bungalows.
My Bungalow was down some stairs that led to a jungle trail…down that trail and then I made a turn to another trail and continued on for a bit and voila! There was my amazing bungalow with a view. It felt so wonderfully isolated…This was pure decadence…the Bungalow was huge and had a lovely fireplace that they light for you at night…It was my own 5 star refuge…. I decided to spend some time on my very private patio in the jungle to watch the action…and action there was…There were various monkeys flying across the tree canopy’s chatting with each other along the way. It was amazing to watch…But these monkeys were far shier than the Gorillas…That’s OK…their ambiance was enough for me…How often can you sit out on your patio listening to Monkeys kibitzing…I just enjoyed the atmosphere until it was time to return to the lodge for dinner.
I arrived in time to sit around the fire and meet several of the people who helped run the lodge. All were from various countries from Kenya to Great Britain…and each had a story of what brought them to Mikeno lodge in the middle of the Congo Jungle. I mentioned that just after I decided to come to Virunga, I was walking down the street in downtown Orlando and saw a photo exhibit on the Rangers of Virunga at one of our Galleries…The woman in charge of tourism said “oh that’s Adam Keefer…Look his work is all over our walls”…and sure enough it was…He is a local Orlandoan. Ironic!
My 2nd day at Mikeno was spent wandering around the Jungle on my own and visiting the Gorilla Cemetery…It was so relaxing. Most people only spend the afternoon after their Gorilla trek and move on to the Volcano the next day BUT I am so happy I stayed an extra day. It gave me what I needed to just take in this incredible experience…and meander on my own…looking at unusual birds and watching the many baboons play near my patio…I love this…It’s wonderful…I highly recommend it. The Mikeno Lodge is a must stay for anyone doing the Gorilla Trek.