Today started like the others, a bit of trepidation about vegetation and rocky mountains, and the excitement of thinking what we might see. Herve had used one of the carp I caught yesterday for bait and this morning the 100lb test line was cut. We saw some huge catfish in the same spot.
We skirted between the forest and the rocks most of the way. We ran across baboons, guinea fowl and warthogs a few times. It was another hot one.
We took a rest at a spot where we were next to the Chinko, and when we getting up I could see Herve was walking real slow. I said, you are walking like an old man. He said “stomach worms are bothering me, I have been throwing up”. He looked like hell.
We recommenced and about 1 km down the way I heard whistling. The guys said Herve was throwing up more. I went back to see and he was still chugging along toward us. When he sat down he looked like he was dying. I thought, mix of sun and dehydration. Right away we gave him a mix of powdered milk, sugar and a teaspoon of salt. We let him stabilize for a while.
In the meantime, I walked around and saw several piles of roan antelope dung. It was all old but this was our first observation of a large antelope. They probably take advantage of the rocky terrain here. We saw mostly burro dung today and very little cow dung and few cattle tracks. The herders probably travel with the cows on the north side of the river and hunt over here.
I decided to make a beeline for the river. I took Herve’s pack and we made the river in about 2 km. We found a good spot under the trees and I sent Herve into a tent, gave him more of the bush rehydration concoction and went to sleep.
By 5pm Herve seemed to be out of danger; he was sitting up and talking fairly normally. Trouble is, of course, is dehydration knocks it out of you for a few days and we were supposed to make our big crossing to the Vovodo tomorrow.
A traveling band of people is only as strong as its weakest element. Herve is going to hold us back. We will make our way slowly to the traverse point to the Vovodo tomorrow and decide whether we cross or continue up the Chinko. We will assess stores and weight. These guys snuck too much extra stuff in their packs, so we are going to do some triage, even though they are still resisting.
Took a stroll this afternoon and saw more roan antelope dung, warthogs, baboons, and the first rabbit of the trip. We also heard a bushbuck.
Caught some more fish in the evening. Two tiger fish the guys say aren’t the normal tiger fish, which they call benga. The two I caught they call ngana and boole. So there are three tiger fish up here. There is less and less water in the river. We will see where it peters out. I have also been collecting tse tse flies for analysis for Thierry, good revenge to drown them in alcohol, at least getting bitten feels worthwhile.
Seems like we have been on the trail for a long time now. That is a good thing. It means we are in the rhythm of the walk. What has been left behind is left behind and when you get up in the morning you can’t wait to go because you are going ever deeper into the unknown.
Africa explorer-conservationist J. Michael Fay is in the Central African Republic, completing an expedition he started in 2014, retracing as best he can the footsteps of the 19th Century American Game Hunter-Explorer William Stamps Cherry. Fay, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and recipient of numerous National Geographic Society grants, has also worked for decades for the Wildlife Conservation Society. His transects through some of Africa’s most remote and inaccessible wildernesses (among them the National Geographic-sponsored Megatransect and Meglaflyover) rank among the most significant in the history of exploration of the continent. You can read all his dispatches at Expedition Through the Heart of Africa.