Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in Blog, Personal Stories | 0 comments

Let me adapt my photo of the day post for you a little bit, because… well why not?

Jeremiah-and-Jay-on-a-barge-Africa-Mercy-Congo

1 photo/day 1,018: today I saved my buddy Jeremiah from the very real possibility of getting Shanghaied, and then together we made an adventure of the day.

When I first saw him on my way out of the port, he was waiting to take a ride on a rust bucket fishing boat, one among dozens here run by Chinese fishermen. Through some rough translation he’d determined that they would be headed out for an hour-long trip, and that he was welcome to join them on board. When I came back and offered to go with him, I eventually sought out my own explanation. I mean, I can only wait so long for a free ride on a sinking vessel.

None of the Chinese guys spoke French, but the local guys warned me that A) their boat had serious problems (which were visibly apparent) and  they weren’t going out for an hour, they were going out for A WEEK.

It was at this point I decided that maybe, just maybe, this was a bad idea. The level of our welcome was also highly questionable. Not to be beaten, we asked after other options. A quick couple of conversations later and the local workers told us that there was another boat that might take us out. One that was more likely to make it back, and less likely to give us tetanus. We wandered over to another part of the port, hopped on a fuel tanker, and walked out to the barge lashed to its far end.

Jeremiah-on-a-barge-in-congo-brazzaville

A few conversations and rounds of coffee later and we were on our way out into the port. Our ride was the supply and support barge for the dredge ships working to deepen the lanes and berths of the port. Dredge ships, in case you’re unaware of this miracle of human ingenuity, are basically giant vacuum cleaners with drill bits on the end. They dig a trench and suck up the debris as they go. There are even ones that can dig a trench, lay pipe in the trench, and bury it again in one pass.

The one we were on literally opens up at the bottom as if it were on a giant hinge. Not with doors on the bottom. No, the entire hull splits down the middle and opens like a massive backhoe to dump it’s payload. Un. Believable.

dredge-ship-pointe-noire-jay-swanson

We had a fun, manly day. For one, just being around giant machinery like that makes you want to roar and eat raw meat. Then again, being around that much rust makes you feel like keeping your arms close to you at all times.

swinging-the-trash-around-jay-swanson

The sailors we hung out with were much friendlier than Jeremiah’s potential Chinese overlords. And it’s also a rare thing for us to be in a male-dominated workplace (mercyships is moooostly womenfolk). After touring their ships and traveling around a bit, we made it to the beach to drop off a dumpster of trash. With that out of the way, they were kind enough to drop us off. I’d say we made a pretty dang good day of it, and were even back in time for dinner.

Next time we’re definitely bringing meat to grill though.