Day 5 on the Congo:
The air is palpably wet even when it is not raining, and the first realization is that nothing is dry, here. With work, one can effect a transition from ‘soaked’ to ‘damp’, but only at the price of becoming soaked oneself through the exertion. Most of us quickly adopt a posture of languid immobility, waiting, waiting for something to change.
The heat oozes through you, and over you, and soon you feel its weight upon your flesh and become uncertain that movement is possible, even if it were desirable, or necessary. I recall a lecture about certain amphibians, and their propensity for being cooked alive, if only the water was heated gradually enough, and for a moment the base camp has the feel of an immense cauldron, perhaps gradually coming to a boil.
And yet cooking pots and kitchen fires are the trappings of civilization and there is nothing but wildness here, a riot of vegetation surrounds us and through it all there is a constant slithering and pittering of feet and antennae, or perhaps it is merely droplets of water falling from the leaves, though one suspects not. No, we are surrounded by life, and life that does not hew to the constraints of humanity.
All around, in the trees and the undergrowth that has no name and the glutinous mud by the water, and in the water, is the sound of that life growing and thriving, and despite that abundance, the chorus brings with it a strange, abiding dread. And then the explanation for it – the realization that all that life is waiting to feast upon your exhausted corpse.
Already I fear that is the only change that awaits us here.
(We are in for several days of very high heat and humidity here, which I am reacting to with my usual stoicism and not descending into insanity, even a little.)
Word Count: 49, 135