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Published: June 24th 2009
Travel Blog 6-15-09 to 6-24-09
Munzu in Africa
You know you are in a remote place when the Lonely Planet Travel Guide writer comes looking for you to see about transportation to the village where you are heading. Here is excerpt from the whole 8 pages the Africa Lonely Planet book has on the Central African Republic (CAR):
If it’s the ‘real’ Africa you’re looking for, Central African Republic (CAR) may be it. A country of staggering rare natural beauty, with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife, it nonetheless remains underdeveloped, fragmented and poverty-stricken………
Travelling here is a backpacking bungee jump. At the time of writing most of the country was not considered stable or safe enough to travel through.
May be a better phrase is stereotypical Africa. It is an extremely poor place. I believe it is the 7th poorest country in world with less than 5000 tourists a year. Yes lots of people do live in mud huts or wood shanties with dirt floors. You can get another view of CAR if you read the US State Departments latest travel warning:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to the Central African Republic (CAR), and recommends against all but essential travel outside the capital, Bangui. Travelers in the CAR should exercise extreme caution. ……
Armed rebel groups, bandits, and poachers present real dangers and the Central African government is unable to guarantee the safety of visitors in most parts of the country. The U.S. Department of State advises American citizens against travel outside of the capital Bangui.
On this count things might not be as bad as the warning implies if you are in the right places, which is where I am. I for the most part have felt reasonably safe here.
Denver to Bangui, CAR
Ok let me back up here to the start of my trip. In my usual fashion I did not finish my packing till about 3:30 am and then woke up at 6 am to go to the airport. Thanks to all the gifts my mom was sending over and the two laptops I was bringing for a business deal my sister had made (about 70 lbs), I had about 130 lbs of luggage. After some engineering I was able to mange myself.
I almost missed the first of my two inter-continental red-eye flights because the JFK airport in New York is stupid. I get off the plane in New York and start looking for my gate B20. The only signs are for the B gates and I so I follow them and find gate 20. I am hanging out for a few hours till my flight leaves at 9:40pm. Around 9:10 there was still another flight at my gate waiting to leave so I went to check the board to see if my flight had been delayed again. At this point I see a guy with a british accent running around looking very frantic. I noticed the sign to gate B20 terminal 4. I was in the wrong place and the bus to take you to the other terminal had stopped running. So a group of us had to sprint (I had about 35 lbs of carry on bags) out of terminal catch a train and go back through security at the other terminal in 30 minutes. In the end I made my flight but I was very sweaty.
There is only one flight a week from Europe to CAR. I arranged to get London a day early so I would not miss my Africa flight. I was going to spend the afternoon doing some cite seeing. However I meet a guy at the bus stop who used to live in London and was in town and going back to some of his favorite local spots. I tagged along with him and went to some local pubs. Unfortunately we spent most of the afternoon on the subway, because someone decided to commit suicide and through themself under the train, which shut down the whole subway line.
My second inter-continental red eye flight was uneventful for the most part. Except I a managed to slice off a small chunk of my thumb on my razor while going through security and started bleeding every where. Also the lady (head of the gorilla research station in CAR) who was supposed to be on flight and help out when I got to Africa did not show up.
...... Well that is all for now. I am a little behind on my bloging. Pictures will follow I was having some problems with that
PS I have made it to my sisters
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