Mother Nature has the last say on our activities on the mountains. We use either of two roads to get to the health centres in the mountains. We label them the Quebac axe and the Victor axe.The Quebac axe is a shorter route for us. At the best of times, it takes us 3 hours to get to our destination. The Victor axe is a longer route. It is a journey of approximately 5 hours but road conditions are less capricious.
Thunder and rainstorms churned the Quebac axe into a pool of mud. We travelled with a land cruiser and a small truck. The going was tough. We never really got stuck but we had to either pull out other big trucks or dig out enough space along the sides of the mountains to get past them. Our spirits remained high. We were determined to get to our destination as we had to do a soap distribution and finish construction of 40 latrines.
6 cold, muddy and wet hours later, we were 1.5km from our destination. We were finally defeated when a landslide came between us and there. It was almost evening and we had to drive back to the nearest village to take shelter. The people there were hospitable and allowed us to stay in their health post. One of our drivers is a fantastic cook. A couple of hours later, we huddled together over warm coal braziers eating a delicious dinner of meat stew, cabbage, rice and potatoes.
We left bright and early the next day, sending messages before us that we wanted men to clear the landslide for us. To our great disappointment, there were now 4 landslides and not just one. We yelled out words of encouragement to the team of 40 men as they dug out the landslides. Alas, after 3 hours of digging, we were still unable to squeeze through the passage that was created. The 6 hour drive back to Kitchanga was not easy. The trucks we had helped extract the day before were stuck in new places and we had to help drag them out again.
I nodded my head very slowly and carefully when our Project Coordinator asked me if I wanted to try to get back up to the mountains via the Victor axe the next day.
The journey the next day was a breeze. We got to the mountains, we gave out the soap and we built the latrines.
I was of course completely exhausted after the trip. Lovely Claudio baked a delicious chocolate/pineapple cake and sat through multiple episodes of ‘Sex in the City’over the weekend with me.