6 o’clock in the morning, and the buzz of life had already started half an hour earlier, at dawn. The Lulonga, covered by a thin veil of morning mist, slowly followed by the bottom of the garden of our house and office.
I could hear the song of the fishermen coming from here and there, mixed with those of the other locals who were beginning their morning activities. The gentle cacophony was a real pleasure for my senses. Just above me I saw a little squirrel, fighting to get the rich orange oil out of a palm nut. To simply hear its little calls, one could easily have mistaken it for a small bird. The chickens next door were clucking away alongside a cockerel that, thanks to his morning song that had led me to exasperation, had already tired out his voice. Having cast their fishing nets, the young fishermen laughed out loud as they told their childish stories.
The sun was already bringing to life the colours of the landscape. A few minutes later the magic moment that is dawn would be over. I glanced once more at the forest, appearing through the mist in shades of grey, I heard the call of a buzzard or hawk, so similar to that of the fishing eagle. A pigeon cooed as I looked at my empty coffee-cup with the many thoughts of the loaded schedule ahead of me spinning in my mind …
We had arrived the night before, Pierrot and I along with a friend of ours, Christine d’Hautuille of the close-tied association “OKA” and our European association “ABE” (Friends of Bonobos Europe). It was her first time in Basankusu. We first had to go and wish the local authorities well, as well as our friends in the area in order to rapidly organise our trips out onto the river to go and meet with the Pôo population and their neighbours.
Pity! The sun was not with us, “Thank goodness” exclaimed Titi Ô (Christine’s nickname) who had just arrived from Paris where the temperature was little over zero degrees!
And so we set off, our pirogue (dug-out canoe) cutting through the waters of the Lopori just past Basankusu. As we approached the Island of Isia, our “official supplier” of raffia palm wine hailed us from the top of his raffia tree! He slowly climbed down, wished us well and poured the contents of his calabash into our cups all ready and waiting in a line! “It will be a good year!” I said laughing at Titi Ô who nodded approvingly as she licked her lips.