Once again, three weeks have passed since having stopped, but finally, the wait is over and the bureaucracy too (at least for the time being). These last two months of long stops went slow but the truth is that they have been necessary. In the first one, in Luanda, I have made a beautiful bunch of great new friends; in the second, in Cabinda, I have happily found myself with the magic, if temporary, of a burning passion; and in this last stop in Brazzaville, although already very close to boredom, I have rested and got fat. The important thing is that I have been able to recover my strength because from now on there will be no more breaks and I will need to make use of every particle of energy to face the adventure I plan for the coming months.
Long and boring days lead me to the border with Gabon, but it is the thrill of going to the jungle of central Africa, which motivates me to move forward with all my strength along this flat landscape of few attractions. Leaving its two large cities, Point Noire and Brazzaville, southern Congo is no more than a mere collection of small rudimentary villages scattered across the equatorial savannah. It is the tropics but without trees. Here, humid heat squeezes and the sun punishes you, without having a place to run to for shelter.
However, it does not take me long to discover, although without surprise, that it is in the encounter with the people where the refuge of these hot days of tedium is. After long days of cycling, where the distances between villages become bigger and bigger, reaching a village is the greatest reward at the end of each day. In them, through their people, I delight myself again savoring the beauty of life in slow motion, where the absence of high technology returns it to its most essential. The clear evidence of a very hard and rudimentary rural life seems to dissolve on cool afternoons where community life predominates.
In an open field of land surrounded by big mango trees, an 8 year old boy with a radiant smile capable of conquering a world of sadness, beats the drums making a whole village dance and sing. The rhythm of the singing and dancing is contagious, it gets into my body and makes me vibrate with joy with them.
In another corner, I see a group of teenagers of all ages, sweating their life away running behind a rag ball. My usual aversion to football is now miraculously transformed into joy. The joy that arises from seeing genuine passion sprouting behind the proud agility exhibited by some, and the clumsiness without shame with which others play. African passion, very similar to the one I grew up watching on my own continent. They are all together in the same game, they have fun bathed in sweat and full of dust. They try to incarnate those idols that they occasionally see on TV playing in the European leagues, ignoring perhaps that those heroes are no longer moved by the same love for the sport with which they play, but by the addiction to fame and money.
The little ones, on the other hand, refuse to stop playing in a world where the enormous variety of plastic toys with which we grew up with, do not exist. The extensive collection of rusted skeleton vehicles that decorate the villages along the sides of the roads of the Congo is the perfect amusement park for Congolese children. In them, they swing, hide, pretend to be pilots, runners, gladiators. A simple object burned down, half-swallowed by the roots of the earth, is enough to give free rein to the imagination of children who persist in having fun.
When night falls in the Congo, the fire and some fragile bulbs fed by small solar panels, outline the silhouettes of groups of people walking across the village and chatting by the doors of the houses. The heat subsides, the stillness looms. I have no worries, my tent is not even necessary. The chef du village (head of the village) always takes care of organizing a place in it so that I can spend the night safely. It can be in a small wooden box with a bed made of bamboo canes, it can be in the parish, in the house of some volunteer, or even in the pharmacy of a village, where its owner decides to return to sleep to the house of his brother to leave me the bed of his business.
In the dark and quiet nights of the villages of Congo I also meet nature, in the middle of a night in which a gentle tingle awakens me. At first contact, still asleep, I imagine that those tingles are the beautiful caresses of a woman sleeping beside me. The tingle insists, and although I open my eyes without seeing anything, it is enough to know that it is not a woman who is lying by my side. My brain finally wakes up when I realize that something is walking on my neck; it has legs and there are many of them. My heart races as I jump out of the bed shaking it all off. I can see absolutely nothing around me while I randomly fumbled around trying to find my headlamp. As I turn it on I look around and finally find my roommate. There I see it, on the floor, the spider that was taking a walk on my body. Without doubts or resentments, I understand right there that from now on, not only when there are mosquitoes or cockroaches, I have to always hang my mosquito net.
Soon I fell asleep again, happiness was invading me, I was already in the Congo.