Sunday, 10 March 2013

The stop over at Gomo and a jigger.

March 3 (Tuesday)1953

What a wonderful night's sleep we all had; it was terrific to be back in real beds again. Coffee was brought to our suite at 07h00 and we made a slow start to a relaxing day, but making it in time to the dining room for breakfast. Afterwards we went into Gomo, had a look around the shops and bought some new films for the camera. We were told that it was completely safe bathing in Lake Kivu, with a total absence of hippo or crocodiles. We were also told that there were no mosquitoes at all in that area. David and I went for a swim on our return, while Mum and Dad walked down to watch us; during this time something bit Mum on her foot. There was nothing visible, but it started itching and irritating soon afterwards. Mum said not to worry too much, so life went on!
Bugoyi guest house, Gomo.
This tropical part of the country was a fairly new experience and almost incredible to us, so recently living in the English winter and having been on the move for so long. The weather was the near perfect temperature for us and the surroundings  very quiet and peaceful. After an excellent lunch, we bought a few postcards and decided that we should let friends and family know how we were getting on and where we had got to. Afterwards Mum had a really lazy afternoon while Dad, David and I went off for a walk before returning for the luxury of tea. It was the most relaxing day we had spent for some time and none of us felt particularly energetic. After dinner, (which we did not have to cook!) we played cards for a while and had a fairly early night. We were enjoying this place so much,  it was planned that at some stage in the future, we would return here for a real holiday.
Tea time!!
March 4 (Wednesday) 1953 

David and I wanted to stay at the lake, while Mum and Dad decided they would like to go into Gomo to do some shopping. Dad needed to go to the bank and  they wanted to buy a lens hood for the camera, if such was available. They also needed to replenish our stores for the next part of the journey. At mid-day, there was a brief storm, which we sat and watched from the covered guest house verandah. Once the rain had stopped, the sky quickly cleared and David and I were back off to the lake again. Mum and Dad emptied the Land Rover and cleaned the inside, packing everything back in as tidily as possible. We all sat and watched the magnificent sunset from the verandah before dinner; it was very unusual and spectacular for us, as all around, the horizon was red, reflected from glowing volcanoes. Mum then had a terrible night; her foot was red, swelling and itching madly. We put some "Milton" (sterilizing liquid, still available today, I think!)  on it, hoping that it would help, and she kept putting her foot out of the bed, onto the cold floor to try to revieve the burning sensation. Nothing seemed to help and the itching got worse and worse during the night. 
An African fishing canoe.
March 5 (Thursday) 1953 

The next morning, the guesthouse manageress asked us if everything was all right, and luckily Mum mentioned to her about her foot and the terrible night that she had had. She told us to wait right there and she went off, returning with a very elderly African who had a look at her toe. He fetched a sterilised needle and with a small prod, produced what seemed to be a small bag of eggs!   They had been laid there by a jigger; Mum remembered having read about them in one of her books, many years before. They lay their eggs in a tiny sac which is embedded into the toe. This obviously was what had happened when she thought she had been bitten. If the eggs are allowed to hatch, the result is that the foot itself is actually eaten in small amounts during the life cycle of the jigger!    We had seen several people in that area with what looked like deformed feet, so we now guessed what the reason was. It was almost instantaneous relief for Mum; once the eggs were removed, the itching stopped. By this time, it had started raining again and we went to our rooms for Mum to have a rest, while the rest of us did some reading. Not pleasant to see, but if you really want to know more about jiggers read here ! 
Having my own private game of water polo!
We had a late lunch and at 15h00, when the sky had cleared up again, David and I went off to the lake and hired a pedalo. This struck us as quite strange; pedalos for hire in the centre of Africa (!!), but as it was, we both thoroughly enjoyed it, while Mum and Dad kept a watchful eye on us having fun. 
I had to laugh when I saw this photo enlarged. I see we are both fully clothed and David even has a tie on I think!
Dad joined me in the boat later for a short time, but came out remarking that all the pedalling was very leg aching! We walked along the beach, before returning to the guest house to tidy up and pack, ready for moving off the next morning. After dinner, we met some Americans who had just arrived; they were travelling from Cape Town to Kenya, so we swopped a few stories until it was time to go to bed. 
Myself, David and Mum on the shores of the lake. Looks like we have bathing costumes on this time!
I have already mentioned the 1977 eruption, but it is worth noting here that the Nyragongo volcano in eastern Congo began erupting again on 17 January, 2002, with lava flows burning their way through towns and villages the next day, killing an estimated 147 people. Hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing across the border into Rwanda. News reports said that a 35-70-metre (115-230 feet) swath of lava, in some places 2 metres (6.5 feet) high, advanced to the outskirts of the city of Gomo and poured into Lake Kivu. Gomo has a population of 400,000. Many people evacuated on foot. At least 15% of Goma, comprising 4,500 buildings were destroyed, including part of the airport, leaving about 120,000 people homeless. Lava flows created fires in the commercial centre. There were audible explosions, possibly as cars and petrol stations exploded. Six months later, the volcano erupted yet again, but it was confined to the crater. Reports are conflicting on numbers killed so I have no idea how accurate this is. 

The four of us sitting by Lake Kivu.

To be continued :-) 

I have put this section of my life story on Kindle if you should be interested:-


  1. Ah, you and your brother appear older in the last photo. How does it feel to look back at this long, long trip?

    1. Rosaria the whole trip only took 7 weeks so I don't think the age difference would show very much :-) I am really enjoying reliving the trip, it is bringing back many memories. Take care Diane

  2. A new story to start the week. The only thing that scares me when I travel are strange bugs. I do not know Spanish name of that insect. Thanks God that your mother had the help of a local. She must have a lot of pain.
    You look very smart in the photos,and David with his tie...lovely, now people when traveling dress in clothes that seem to go to the Carnival.

    1. Araceli García I have to admit to not being over fond of bugs either especially if I do not know what they are! I think then we were very English and a tie is worn a lot more there than I ever see here. I note though that my Dad had an open neck shirt on. Have a good week Diane

  3. Wonderful! What a great time you must have had there.

    1. JM I really regret that we never returned there, I would still love to go back and this time to see the gorillas as well. I can dream........ Keep well Diane

    2. Actually, Diane, times have changed and it's not that safe to travel now in many places we've been before. But I know exactly what you mean!

  4. Ewwww that jigger thingy is a mean creature. Your poor mum. Lucky someone knew how to fix it. Sounds like you had a nice few days relaxing here. I can't believe David had a tie.

    1. diane the old guys there were skilled at taking out those bags of eggs from the jiggers. It was surprising to see how many people had been effected by them though. That tie is good old English tradition!! N's father always wears a tie when he walks out the door, that was how he was brought up. Things have certainly changed with the younger people of today! Take care Diane

  5. Hi Diane, your memory of these events is so vivid, I am like reading like it is just happening. Did you ever publish a book about your life story?

    1. Rose, not a book about my full life story, but the trip through Africa is published on Kindle as you can see above or you can download it through kindle application to your computer. Diane


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