Author Archives: cgreen2012

About cgreen2012

A recovering lawyer ( semi-retired), blogger, vagabond, paddler

Christmas in the Congo

I had a moment of lucidity towards the end of my first year law school exams, and decided to put the paper chase on hold for a while, and bolted for the freedom of the open road.

I joined a small group of like-minded vagabonds and a couple of crazy Aussies who just happened to own a secondhand Bedford Army truck, which we decided to drive from London to Nairobi, across the Sahara desert,Chris028 through the jungle of the Congo and on to the Great Plains of the Serengeti.

It was the adventure of a lifetime, and the Christmas season of 1973 found us approaching the border between the Congo and Rwanda, a border which abruptly and unexpectedly  clanged shut in our faces in a snafu over expired exit Visas (or possibly a miscalculation of the size of the Christmas present expected by the border guards.)

Christmas eve found us rolling out our sleeping bags on what passed as the front lawn of a small mission church, in a tiny jungle hamlet where poinsettias bloomed naturally by the roadside. We made a stab at holiday decorating by up-ending a large hand of Bananas and festooning it with bits of tin foil.

My journal for Christmas eve recorded: “at dinner time, a group of youngsters, led by a guy wearing a band leader’s cap appeared, going door to door, singing some sort of chant-a local version of Christmas carols we guessed-stopping at our truck where we tipped them a few coins.

“Wieners and beans and smash for dinner – about 7:00PM  Firos, one of the Cypriots who operate the trading post at the crossroads came by to quietly invite us to a Christmas party. Quietly, because Mbuto, the Congolese leader, introduced draconian measures against the local white population last month – confiscating land,  businesses and money. In the aftermath, a ban has been imposed on gatherings of more than five whites,  in order to throttle any dissent.

“Firos’ place, a couple of rooms tacked onto the back of the store, was the universal ‘bachelor pad- messy kitchen, but a fridge full of Makasi beer, and an empty living room except for a stereo and a stack of records sitting on an empty beer crate an a bedroom. painted black, with nude pin-ups as wall paper.

” About five guys were there when we arrived, and others filtered in during the evening As the bash got underway loud rock & roll gave way to Greek folk music – and the crockery started to fly as we were taught the rudiments of Greek dancing. The party ended with a drunken sing-song – Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Oh Suzanna  (for some unknown reason!) and a beautiful medley of Spanish Christmas songs sung by a maudlin Spanish ex-pat suddenly grown very homesick.”

My journal reveals that much of Christmas day was taken up with nursing a hang over and trying to locate a black market source of diesel, as we were literally running on fumes, and the gas stations (all owned by whites) had been shut down in consequence of Mbuto’s ‘reforms’ It also records  our Christmas dinner in some detail:

“We started about 2:00PM- first course was canned beef stroganoff (and beer) , followed by a very hot spanish rice salad that no-one could eat.(and beer) Next, canned ham, with canned new potatoes, and canned mushrooms,(and beer)  accompanied by fresh bread, and tinned margarine, all topped off with tinned Christmas pudding topped with tinned  Danish cream, (and beer) afterwards, people seemed to just drift off and crash -too much food -too much beer.”

“Boxing day – a cop arrived at breakfast with a letter addressed to “Monsieur le Chef de groupe des hippies”. We have been ordered out of town! Managed to score most of the fuel we needed from the guy that runs the brewery, and managed to clear the town by 4:30 and made about 60km by nightfall”Chris099

Christmas in the Congo- they don’t make ’em like  that any more !

This year I’m riding the BC ferry for adventure – how about you?

 

 

 

 

Categories: Africa, Bucket list, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

All aboard the climate change bandwagon!

Whistler has just sent a demand letter to a major Alberta oil company seeking compensation for the extra costs incurred by the municipality because of climate change. Now that is a bandwagon I can climb aboard!-here’s a draft of my own demand letter to Big Oil: Continue reading

Categories: Environment, humour, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Infernus Sanguinum

It was a dark and stormy night in Port Hardy.  Port Hardy, as you may know,  is the end of the line- the terminus of the Island Highway, and the dropping off point for parts unknown.

It was also Saturday night, and the start of our vacation. It was time to show my lady a good time. Continue reading

Categories: Etiquette & manners, humour, Reflections, relationships, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Youth’s Lament

A Gentleman's Relish

This week’s announcement of the end of the  eighty year production run  of the VW Beetle caught me at a vulnerable moment, recovering from a humiliating fall on a mountain hike that starkly, and painfully drove home the point that I’m not as young as I think I am.

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Categories: Reflections | Leave a comment

Of Honour- and photo ops

Parliament voted last week to revoke the honorary citizenship it had previously bestowed upon Aung San Suu Kyi the  civilian  leader of Myanmar, horrified that she has done nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya – OOPS- I guess the Prime Minister was a bit too quick off the mark in awarding the honour in the first place .

It leads me to ponder – what is the purpose of bestowing honorary citizenship anyway? I can think of no practical reason for doing so, other than the obvious opportunity it affords politicians to indulge in a feel good photo-op with a celebrity. Canada’s recognition of  Suu Kyi obviously did nothing to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar, so really, what was the point?

Granting honours, especially to celebrities who are still alive and capable of disappointing us can be a tricky business.  The Order of Canada has had to re-think its membership list so many times, after recipients have subsequently disgraced themselves  I’m surprised they don’t  keep the honour roll in pencil. So why do we do it?

Take Bill Cosby, for example. Back when  he was still  “America’s Dad” and a benign and beloved father figure, he collected over 60 honorary degrees from Universities across the US. His conviction for sexual assault has caused a massive recall of those honours by a number of prestigious schools.

Interestingly, Yale University is not amongst them. It has a long-standing policy not to revoke honours bestowed upon persons who subsequently disgrace themselves. Given that  Yale is the  alma mater  of both Judge Kavanaugh and Judge Clarence Thomas ( of Anita Hill fame) this is perhaps not surprising!

 

 

Categories: law, Politics, Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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