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Answers to your questions

I’ve been getting a few questions from people over email, so here are some answers:

– What am I eating?

There’s African food and European food. Most days I eat European because that’s what is served to me. Heavy on the meat (chicken steak, pork) and potatoes, with occasional salad, green beans or peas. Pasta, lasagna. French bread is served at every meal. In Libreville I’ve had good Middle Eastern food twice (hummus, falafel) and Tim took me to a really good pizza restaurant. Good chocolate, bread and coffee can be found anywhere, so I’m happy.
The serious luxuries are cheese and yogurt. Here at Iguela, fruit is a luxury.
I’ve tried a few African foods- most notably baton de manioc, which is cassava root that is soaked in water for a few days then mashed up and shaped into a fat stick about a foot long. It’s white and rubbery but doesn’t taste too bad, kind of like congealed cream of wheat. It’s a staple here. There’s also feuille de manioc, which is the leaves of the plant mashed and cooked up, usually with spicy fish. It’s pretty good, somewhat like spinach. Other staples are plantains (yummy in every form!), hot peppers, sardines in tomato sauce, rice. I won’t be trying bushmeat, but a couple people have told me crocodile is very good when it’s cooked right.

This lady is selling local produce in Kango. The batons de manioc are in the middle, wrapped in green leaves. On the left side are cassava roots (like potatoes), on the right are potatoes, plantains and peppers.

– What am I drinking?

Bottled water, a wonderful grapefruit soda called D’jino and Regab, the very good local beer. (Simon, I tried to post your wonderful pic of the beers at sunset in Mayumba, but it won’t load!)

– Am I speaking French?

As best I can! My childhood French teacher would probably cringe in horror, but I’m re-learning alittle more every day and I can understand most conversations as long as people don’t speak too quickly. When I’m in Libreville (I’ve been there for a day or two between visits to study sites) most of the WCS people speak English (many are British or Dutch and there’s a couple Americans) and here at Iguela most of the people who run the lodge are Dutch and speak English, but for the most part all the guys I spend days in boats with only speak French.

– What’s the weather like?

Grey and misty rain mostly. I wish the rainy season would hurry up and start because I’d rather have heavy rain followed by clear skies, but I’m not really complaining… hippos look just as cool in the rain!

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