DRC meets CAR meets ROSS

Camping tonight on a patch of red earth next to the Wildlife Office's decrepit shed in Ezo, on the tri-border spot between South Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo. It's a fairly remote place as remote places go. Its dogs howl more mournfully than elsewhere and it has overturned blackened vehicles but the same magical red African sunset skies.

Ezo's location means it takes the brunt of whatever crises may be going on in any of those countries. Its population has thinned out, but I don't know where people have headed as the forest areas we drove through to reach Ezo from Tumbura were also less populated than they used to be. At the peak of bush rebel action in these parts over the last couple of years, this region was not a safe place to be. People laid low or fled to their Zande speaking brothers and sisters over the border. Many of them have not yet returned, the memories and threats of violence and robbery too raw in the mind.

NGO guilt syndrome struck in the evening. Our minds tell us that a full day's drive - albeit hot and uncomfortable - doesn't feel like it should be counted as work even though this rugged road trip is necessary to meet government people in the back of beyond. During thunder and lightning that grew closer and kamikaze insects smacking the screen, we composed an important letter about the chimps in Yambio and I did some offline inbox whittling.

Rushing inside our tents before the storm's onslaught, my short call under a nearby tree was re-routed by gusting winds. No water available tonight for washing. Stink and grime keep accumulating.

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