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CHUKUDU - THE WOODEN BICYCLE
Seriously – do not laugh. You are looking at a seriously well engineered, practical, low cost and environmentally friendly method of goods transport. The Chukudu is a solid wood scooter that has forked steering bars, a wide wooden platform sloping from the steering handles down and to the rear. Finally its wooden wheels have some rubber tyre tread attached to them for traction through rough roads and mud.
The Chukudu originated in the Goma/Lake Kivu area. They were invented as a cheap method to transport goods and sometimes people. They do lack peddles and gears, but they do allow a man to transport hundreds of kilograms of goods to market places and return with valuable provisions like water back to the village. And if there is a hill, well then they can ride as fast as their Chukudu will take them. With 200-300 kilograms onboard I can assure you it can be very fast. Because they are made of solid wood they can carry these heavy loads and essentially last forever.
There are even Chukudus (and driver) available for hire. I actually have pictures of 3 Chukudus waiting at a crossroads waiting to pick up work – literally. On a good day the drivers can earn as much as $10 which is very good pay indeed.
I have seen them transport huge amounts of bananas, water, flour/maize, firewood, clothes and firewood. It really makes no difference as the solid wood frames can take the strain and some rope will hold anything onboard. They are also able to navigate the rough lava filled ‘streets’ of Goma. Now that’s tough.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Work Abroad
- Adventure Travel
I found, and this was confirmed by our guide, that the people in this area do not like being photographed at all. They believe that taking a photograph of them removes their spirit and they really resent any photographs being taken or even run away if they can.
A pity, because the people are colourful and it would have been nice to get some photos of them. However, even our guide refused to let me take his photo - hence there is no photo attached to this tip!Related to:
It is very important not to startle the gorillas -
No flash photography.
No sudden movements
Don't try to play with, or get close to youngsters. This will annoy and alarm the parents.
Don't stare the silverback in the eye - he will take this as a threat and may charge you.
Gorillas are prone to catching the same diseases as humans so you have to keep your distance and not go closer than the guides allow.
Always follow what the guides say - they are familiar with the gorillas.
You can only stay abou8t 1 hour at a time so they don't get stressed.
If the silverback does get upset and charges at you - don't run away. Stay where you are and cower down, acting submissive. He will only be giving you a bit of a telling off and will not actually run into you.Related to:
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Be relaxed - the country is different, so get used to it! I wish that my high school French had involved more oral than written emphasis! Even so, it is not too difficult to get by with a smattering of the language. The small part of Zaire that I saw does have some beautiful scenery for you to enjoy, if you can just go with the flow regarding all the power-plays by local 'officials'. Photo along the road from Lubumbashi to Kolwezi.
When you had a beer in Zaire, you had a serious beer! Sometimes, because we were living so close to the Zairean border, we would just pop across to experience what it was like in their bars. It was definitely different, with the French language and culture, as well as the sense of adventure from just slipping into another country like that! Actually, we did a lot of stupid things back then in our youthful zest for life, but just were lucky not to be caught! I was amazed at the size of the beer bottles in Zaire (the photo compares one of my souvenirs to a typical Canadian beer bottle)! I always loved the atmosphere in the African bars and still have a few old 45 rpm records to remind me of the tunes!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
If you go to Eastern Zaire, do...
If you go to Eastern Zaire, do make the effort to go and visit the pygmies. Depending on what you can negotiate, a hike into the jungle, hunting trip and overnight stay at their village is around US$20. It is quite a bizarre culture as all they do all the time is sleep, eat and smoke dope. Watching a six-year old girl smoking a pipe longer than she is at seven in the morning is weird to say the least.
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