I woke somewhat perplexed to find myself in a hammock in a Bwiti temple, but then I remembered I was in Gabon and all was good. I said my hearty goodbyes to Mobengo, Tatayo, Justin and Alex and headed to the port.
I needn’t have bothered. These guys have no intention of going anywhere. They say they’re waiting for a shipment of gas. I’ve offered to pay for the price of the shipment so we can go right away and they can pick up the gas on the next run. But ah, that would be too simple. Sorry Graham, you’re staying here until… well, the shipping agent said tomorrow, the woman on the boat said Monday, the captain chuckled and said Wednesday. I don’t believe any of them. I keep saying it, but talk about Cape Verde all over again.
Frustrated, I returned to the commune at Tatayo’s place. My only hope now is a guy I’ve met from Belgium called Marc. I got speaking to him at the port the other day. He’s off work until the 15th Sept and he’s got a yacht. I made arrangements to meet him tomorrow – maybe, just maybe, I can get him to give me a lift over to Sao Tome…
I doubt it though. It would be one in a million.
Tonight was a night of typical insanity-clad Bwiti madness in which we entered the ‘temple’ across the road and a good thirty or forty of us gathered around for a night of crazy music, crazy dancing and lashings of iboga – a legal hallucinogenic tree root that you swallow as powder or eat in shavings (as Bruce Parry did). I was given some, but not enough to touch the sides – so (unfortunately) no warped Ralph Steadman animations twisting around my subconscious for me.
But it was nice to feel part of the tribe; the Americans – Mobengo, Justin and Alex all – have the same kind of humour as me and like to flit from jokes involving underage nuns to discussing the Middle East peace process without missing a beat – ahh, at last – fellow philanderers caught between the gutter and the stars.
The ceremony involved repetitive music that was played on various local instruments, strings and drums – African rave, I guess. Then the boys and girls put their makeup on and the dancing would start. You know the Run-DMC video for It’s Like That? Well, it’s like that – it’s all quite boys vs. girls attempting to pull their best shapes for the chief (and the quietly tripping out audience) and as the night goes on the dancing becomes more crazed and frantic but, as with the Run-DMC video THE BOYS ALWAYS WIN. Even though the girls always think it’s them who won.
I had a riot – my word, I cannot express to you how much a decade’s worth of Glastonbury festivals prepares you for Africa. Seriously, if you can survive a muddy Glasto you could do this. You could do this with your eyes closed.