please understand. this was a 16 yr old kid. wide-eyed & bushy-tailed.
started off a mess. bumped off (no room for me) a private (cessna 210) flight to zaire in kenya, so spent a week in nairobi by myself at the ambassador hotel listening to the recurring "put you hand in the hand of the man who healed waters" over and over on the hotel radio (what was THAT???) eating gigantic gristly but delicious steaks at some steak house i wish i could remember the name of. couldn't enter zaire as mobutu had closed the borders.
begged the US embassy for help. NONE. they couldn't have cared less. met a stunning filipina gal (wonderful -drop dead gorgeous- christian, no sex here, so stop reading if the possibility is enticing. LOL!) who pointed me to the filipino embassy. THEY took me in like an old lost brother. i will never forget them. out on the town, wonderful dinners, hanging around at their flat. awesome people.
heard that some missionaries were flying supplies into manono (just where i needed to be) and asked if i could go along. was told sure as they had a seat in the aerocommander. then left from wilson field but first stopped by border controls who told me i'd overstayed my visa and had broken the law and could not leave. what a crock. i was steamed and ha no idea what to do so i just forcefully told the officer i had no control over the situation, demanded my passport back and he, with a harumph, slapped a stamp on it and tossed it back...
the motorcysle in plastic wrap on a crate, among other things.
landing in manono met with a zairois leaning on his fnfal butt with the tube flash suppressor planted on a stone in the runway.
all was cheery till we were declared illegals and arrested. some sort of arrangement was made by the pilots and we were allowed to stay at the home of the missionaries till the head missionary arrived from wherever he was. he then negotiated our release. reminded the local military commandant that God would not allow him to do such a thing to the pilots who brought medical supplies to the needy people...translation: if you do this, the local men will burn your home and spear you when you flee. amazing since the commander was reported to have led his unit on a raid of a village outside manono a couple weeks before...raping the women, beating up the men, robbing the homes...what happens when you don't pay les soldats...
commandant relented and we were free until i shot a picture of the local govt admin building with a flag over it. had no idea photoing the flag was a capital offense. so there i was again in trouble with the law. this time the missionary's daughter bailed me out and she.........2 years YOUNGER than me knew the ropes and all about how to get it done as usual, the adults were not around. the flag thing was weird and i did it again by mistake at lake tanganyika on the way out. drunk zairois soldier came running out of the control shed, boots untied, slopping his way over. bailed out again when the missionary calmly told him he was a good friend for some general kiyengan or something and would be happy to call said general to get his opinion on what the soldier was trying to do to me. that ended the quarrel and i again had a chuckle after the fact. (why was i was always laughing after the fact?)
the tanganyika flag.........
on another occasion i was kicked off another flight at kafakumba. had to find the town and then figure out how to get back to luena. didn't speak french tho i'd picked up a bunch of kiSwahili words but almost no grammar. missed a Land Rover headed to luena and eventually found a hino truck headed that direction after eating a plate of something on top of rice...refused all liquids all day, which in the heat was a deprivation, one i was willing to endure to avoid spending the rest of the summer learning the joys of dysentery.. was given the place of honor in the cab...sitting on the heat manifold over the engine. trip to luena...25 minutes by plane. 4 1/2 hours by land rover. for us in the truck, almost 9 hours. had to stop and hack a trail thru the bush when we came upon aother trucker broke down and then came to a bridge (one that was still there...some from the air could be seen to have been blown during the various incursions). we stopped. some folks got out and tried to negotiate a crossing. the local gendarmes weren't having any of it. now remember, this is the congo. with a truck full of women what and quite empty of money what do you think the bridge faire was? a "discussion" ensued until i was so fed up i climbed out of the truck and with total loss of sense stomped over the steel deck grating to make the most noise possible and confronted the guards (i'd just about memorized Smith & smith and the rifles were belgian 98's in i suppose .3006's).
and so i "demanded" (in english! you use what you've got...) permission to cross. and dang it...the soldiers who appeared in shock or maybe found this young white to be a total buffoon i'm not sure which, gave us the go-ahead. i knew enough to say "merci beaucoup" and to the driver...TWENDE! and we were off again. this time for home.
at one point i was about to pass out for lack of water and we stopped at a village and a fellow peeked in the cab....it was one of the africans i'd hunted with. he bought me some sugarcane...what a blessing.
i was all over shaba/katanga, but what was manono like? like clint eastwood met mad max. think about what thins infrastructure must have looked like under the belgians....when i was there it was just...there. empty shells, minimal economic activity, in the old belgian residential area trees growing out of old homes...
Missionary killed by the rebels in 78.
I never knew him. His gear was still around when I was there.