LOST in CONGO and Trading a CROCODILE for a Bed
- This is so ridiculous, guys, we almost made it, just like another 10 kilometers. And no food anywhere, but bush meat. I'm walking through the Congo River with a dead crocodile on my shoulder, to meet a village of Pygmies, to pray that they let me stay the night in their camp. (Mike chuckles) I'm not sure if this adventure's going horribly or perfectly, honestly.
But, this was not part of the plan. Fingers crossed this all goes smoothly. So far, not so good. This is a true story.
One that I can still barely believe. Bear with me while I tell it. I promise you it's even crazier than you can imagine. Here's how it started, an invitation from my friend Obed. So, I jump on a plane to the capital city of Kinshasa. I join the society of elegant people, and ambience makers, and enjoy some ringside voodoo wrestling, before we fly to Boende, the capital city of Tshuapa, a Congolese jungle province, just a little smaller than France.
Boende is the most remote airport in the country. And upon landing, you could tell this place lived up to the title. We were immediately instructed we must see the governor. I had donated all my fancy clothes to the boys after being baptized in to Sapology.
And muddy shorts and hiking shoes, wasn't exactly the right uniform to meet someone in, that people call Your Excellence. So we go shopping, and then we head to the governor's compound. No phones, no cameras allowed. We walked in expecting to shake some hands and exchange some smiles. I wish it would've went that way. He could not believe that a Canadian would meet a Congolese from Goma, in Kinshasa.
"No one comes here just to see things, that's crazy." He decided we must be trying to start a rebel group in his jungle. We pleaded innocence. He said he'd decide what to do with us tomorrow.
So, we killed some time while we waited for his decision. All right, we're in Boende in the DRC, playing a game of soccer. Though, the rules are a little bit different. We're in the middle of the game.
You have to stop it from hitting the post. There's only one post. And if you hit the post kinda like golf, you win. My cardio is not exactly the best.
(men speaking foreign language) Ball hit the peg, that's one point for us. (Mike laughs) Yeah, yeah, they got it, they got it. All right, all right. (bell dings) I may, I may have committed a fault. I'm using my size over my speed and skill. (Mike laughs) There it is. (Mike and children celebrating) I contribute as much as a sweaty tree.
The celebration turned into a gymnastics competition. Yeah, oh, yeah. Yeah Obed, yeah Obed, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. There we go.
We've created madness. - The next morning we received a message from the governor, We must take the next flight back to Kinshasa. We are not allowed to pass into his jungle. Ugh, there's only one flight a week.
We'd have to wait another six days. Boende is a about 100 kilometers from the border of the next province over, Équateur, about 500 kilometers away in the town of Ingende, we had a contact that could take us hunting, with one of the local Pygmy tribes in the jungle. If we grab motorbikes and left quickly we could evade our lockdown and get out of the province and out of the hands of the governor.
So, we took off, we loaded the bikes into boats. We crossed the river, and we were free. (soft adventurous music) This felt like real adventure, like gambling with loaded dice. Knowing you haven't quite conquered the odds, but they're in your favor. We didn't quite know what was around the corner, but I do know that the human soul needs challenge. It needs risk, real adventure, and this was it.
These bridges are getting worse and worse, rebar and logs. Let's go. I'm gonna be happy to have a break. So will my pelvis, by the way. And maybe I can floss some of these insects outta my teeth, and there's a lot. (truck idling) Hipa, my driver, told me it was the Chinese cutting the forest for tables, in Europe.
(Mike speaking French) It was sad to see. We crossed through small villages along the way, sleeping in a few, and buying whatever food we could find. - [Obed] Yeah, it's just for eating. - It's for eating. - [Obed] Yeah. (Mike speaking French) - No. - No.
All right, it's been a day and a half on motorbikes, and we thought we'd be able to buy food along the way. Not really possible. All there's been is bush meat, and we're out of food. So, we have decided to buy what's available.
Especially our drivers are really hungry. We haven't eaten all day and it's 2:00 pm. So, dinner tonight, it's gonna be this. The crock is killed quickly with a hit from a machete.
And the locals tie it up to our bike. (men speaking foreign language) I love reptiles, honestly. I'm a biologist and I really have a soft spot for the ones that are misunderstood, like crocks, and insects, arachnids. And we were hoping to find a chicken or something, but crock will do.
I wonder if it tastes like chicken. I guess we'll find out tonight, yeah. But it's better not to judge when you're in someone else's house, or country, or village. Oh, God.
I wonder what cowboys felt like. Oh my God, we're gonna eat a crocodile. (upbeat tribal music) - Mike, can you see? - I can see, man. This is not, what happened to the road? The route is a rivier.
(Hipa speaking French) (Mike laughs) We flood the engine. (Mike speaking French) My man, we're flooded. Hope the bike still works. Yeah, the bike didn't work. So, I fly the drone to see how much of our road has now become river. Well, shit.
(water sloshing) Is this all the adventure that you expected, Obed? - Yeah. - Yeah, well one of us is bleeding. We've got a dead crocodile. We've got two flooded bikes. - I already have two, three accidents. You bet your lip too, right? (Mike speaking French) the sun's setting.
And it's still 10 kilometers to the next town. I remember we passed through a tiny village, just on the other side of the water, about half a mile behind us. Our options at this point, sleep on the road or backtrack to the village. So, I grab our dinner and start walking back to the Pygmy village by the water.
All right, buddy. (Mike sighs) Jesus Christ. Mbote, Ca va? (water sloshing) Everyone is staring. But that's nothing new. (Mike speaking French) So far, not so good.
Mbote. - Mbote. (Mike speaking French) No, no, Lingala? We're all a bit nervous and confused. I think I may have made a mistake. Until one of the children brings me a chair, a peace offering, I'm in.
Merci beaucoup. Eventually, Obed arrives and we discuss our situation with the chief. (Villagers speaking Lingala) What's the update? - Yeah, it's okay, I will explain everything. (villagers shouting) - The corners for us, yeah? Got some good news.
We've been given a space, in that corner. Yeah. (Mike chuckles) (Mike speaking French) (Hipa speaking French) There we go. Some holes on the floor, but it's like one giant wicker mattress.
I don't trust putting my flat feet on it. 'Cause my feet might go through, there's a couple holes. But, it's bouncy. It's like a bouncy castle. Gotta say pretty excited.
We would've slept in the dirt, otherwise. Still working on the negotiations but crocodile will be tomorrow, we're gonna share it with the village. Tonight, the only thing that's gonna for dinner is probably us from mosquitoes. But, so far it's been okay. We remove the innards of the crock and add salt. So it doesn't spoil for tomorrow.
It'll be our breakfast. The noises of the jungle, fill the silence here. (bird calling) Then drums start beating in the distance.
(light drumming) (villagers talking in Lingala) (villagers singing) Then something completely unexpected happened. It's a pangolin. I had never seen one before.
A critically endangered creature. This is the most trafficked animal in the world. It scales are worth a fortune on the black market for some bullshit traditional Chinese boner pills, or something equally ridiculous. Here though, that's not why they're hunted. It's simply for food.
This man is not evil, he just simply doesn't know. His family has been living off the land since men and beast roamed the earth. This is how mouths get fed here in the jungle.
And the party continues. (villagers singing and drumming) (men singing) - The singing continued into the night, we hadn't slept much. So, I crashed listening to a soundtrack of the night of my life. (bird calling) I'm happy I recorded. (bird calling) Good morning, up with the sun. That's usually how these places work.
Quite a little party night, last night. The hut kept us safe, though as you can see, we did set up the tent. We were getting destroyed by mosquitoes.
Before going to bed we organized to go fishing with some of the guys they've got these wooden pirogues, pirogue they're called like these dug out canoes. So, we'll go do that now. But woken up by roosters, kinda like it. It's breakfast time. (machete clanking) (chicks chirping) Crocodile, there it is. I always considered it more of a dinner food, over breakfast food.
But I know nothing about how to eat a crocodile, which is why I suggested that we should put it on a stick and roast it, like on a spit. I was thinking about the shot, and how cool that would look. But I was very quickly lectured that that's not how you crocodile.
Because the skin is so thick on these things, you can't really grill it, roast it very well. Here at least, the best way is to boil it. So, we're having boiled crocodile. Each family is getting their own little piece.
They're gonna take it back, boil it in a pot. And they said, if I really wanted to, I could grill my piece after it's boiled. I mean, grilled crocodile sounds better in my head compared to boiled, but I'll try everything. Water from the river is poured into a pot. The crocodile is boiled, so the tough outer skin can be easily removed. (villagers speaking Lingala) Other members of the village prepare fishing traps for later.
It's the first time we'd all seen each other in the daylight. As humans, we love drawing lines in the sand, us versus them. We do this based on language, religion, skin color, beliefs. We all think we're so different, but we're all the same. And the moment we all finally realize this, is the moment our world will change. These videos I make, are to show you that we all sing, we all dance, drink, and we suffer.
In this messed up world today, while we're divided more than ever. I want to show you love. The world is not dangerous. It's overwhelmingly kind, from California to Congo. People are people.
That's the message here, it's love. And so, how's the adventure so far? - So far, so terrible. (Mike and Obed laughing) - We had, so we had such big plans guys.
I, he thought we were spies man. - Yeah, we are spying. We are trying to bring the terrorists to the jungle.
- Spies, particularly because Obed's from Goma, in the east where there's some rebel groups. - Yeah. - So, he thought we were rebel spies.
So, the adventure's gone off the rails, but oh so perfectly and terribly, I think. (Obed laughs) - That's what he wants. - What were you saying about the crocodile? - Look, look, look this.
Even on the plate, the animal is still aggressive. (Mike and Obed laugh) (villagers speaking Lingala) - It looks chewy based on others reactions. This is part of the, I'm guessing the tail, right? The base of the tail. - [Obed] Yeah, the back.
- Oh, that's really good. It tastes like a mix of fish and chicken, right? Boiled then fried. And normally with these like bush meats, or even like bush chicken, the ones that are running around, there's lots of bones, you gotta like manipulate it, and pick it out. But look at that, that's one giant chunk of meat there in the tail. Maybe we should bring this to a Akekho to make some shoes with. - [Obed] Yeah.
- He likes crocodile skin shoes, right? (Akekho speaking French) Crocodile breakfast, complete. We've organized, I told you fishing, but actually it's gotten even better than that. The bikes are still on the other side of the of the lake, and they're gonna get picked up and brought to the city. We are gonna go in the pirogues.
Pirogues, the wooden dug out canoes, and fish along the way and get dropped off in the city which gonna save us like many kilometers walking. Water taxi with maybe lunch on the way, fingers crossed. Let's do it. Bye-o, bye guys. (men speaking foreign language) It's like a maze in here.
Whoop. No doubt there's crocodiles. It's all like still water. It's brown like that because of the tannins in the leaves. So, when you have like a brown leaf like this one, it leeches out like a tea. Whew, and makes the water brown.
So, it might look dirty, but it's just basically dyed. It's kind of cool in here though. - [Obed] Why are the butterflies coming on my shoe? - Because you haven't had a shower.
(Obed laughs) And they want and they want the salt, that's what they want. - And oil. - [Mike] That's what they want your dirty feet. - I'm salty and oily. - [Mike] Exactly. Look at that, now there's third one.
A third one that wants. (Obed laughs) - What's wrong with me? (Mike laughs) (man speaking French) - Yeah man, catfish. (man speaking foreign language) Here, I start to get discouraged, catfish. I'm thinking we're in the process of making fake TV.
They keep on bringing up dead fish attached to the rods. Then, I realize something. So, these things might look like rods, right? It's a palm frond or a bamboo frond, or whatever that is with a string and a hook.
And it's even an earthworm. So, by all conventional standards, at least what I'm used to in Canada, it looks like a fishing rod, but it's not. They actually jam that into one of these little bushes. And it kind of like fishes for self overnight. And they come back in the morning, and they see what this little trap has caught.
So look, we'll watch it happen. It's stuck right in there. They jam it into the substrate, or in between the logs, whatever they can find. And then the hook hangs down with a worm on top. That's, it's super cool actually.
I've never seen this kind of fishing anywhere else in the world. It's like you're setting up 20 different fishing poles, and you're coming back the next day to see what you caught. It's actually really unique, and really cool. One of the boys tells me to turn on the camera so he can show me how it works.
Self-fishing rods, I like it. (Obed groans) You got squished, he got squished. Woo, we are. We, we're stuck, weaving our way through the flooded jungle to the city of in Ingende, where the actual real adventure was supposed to start.
And that adventure happened. (men shouting) Hell man. (men shouting) A snake just came at us, like full on attack mode. Big thing, like maybe two meters. (men shouting) Wow, there's a piece.
Dude, I think that's a mamba. Oh, that snake is so dangerous, stay tuned. Listen though, I'd appreciate a subscription. If you don't mind. You're not gonna find too much more adventure content like this on YouTube.
So, press the button below. I've been visiting a lot of tribes over the past year, and it's always been so much fun to share these remote pockets of the world with you. Also, speaking of remote pockets.
this is Obed, he is the DRC master, the wizard. Anything to say to the people? - Hello. - [Mike] Come to Congo. - Most welcome. - [Mike] Most welcome. - Yeah. - He will hook you up.
Woo, here in DRC, if you wanna come. And for me, my job is to help you conquer your fears, so you can travel the world too. That's my jam, hope you like it. And I'll catch you in the next video here on "Fearless and Far". (soft tribal music)