The drill team started this morning for the second day in a row without anyone from our team in attendance. This is a sign of great progress that they are both capable and motivated to drill on their own. While the drill team got after their task, our team decided to go a bit easier and try to replenish some lost energy.
So what did we do? We just got up at 5:00 and headed to the fish market for a bit of sightseeing. By 5:45 we were headed into the Mbandaka equivalent of Homeland or Super Walmart. Since there is no electricity in this region other than by generator, the vast (and I do mean vast) majority of people do not own a refrigerator.
We saw fish of all kinds and sizes. We saw manioc leaves and roots. Cooked manioc, bananas both cooked and fresh, along with beans and other spices were everywhere. Some vendors had giant pots of palm oil. Most of these pots had small pans with fires in them floating in the top of the oil to keep it from solidifying.
We passed one stall where the woman was selling a monkey that had been hunted, killed and cleaned the previous day. Men drug pigs here and then there in preparation for slaughter so that they could sell the freshest of fresh pork to customers.
What fascinated me most was the peli peli peppers. I saw eight or ten vendors with large quantities spread out in their stalls. These small orange and red peppers resemble a habanera or scotch bonnet pepper. They also taste very similar, and their heat factor, just like the habanera, is ridiculous. The locals make a pepper sauce called peli peli, which explains what is in it. All of us have been eating this sauce almost daily.
And I can’t forget to mention the turtles, giant snails, really really big grub worms and caterpillars (we actually had caterpillars with our dinner Thursday night). The stalls that all of these products were in were nothing more than bamboo posts with palm frond roofs and either bamboo or stick tables and shelves. Many of the vendors just threw mats on the ground and set their merchandise out.
There were hundreds of vendors and easily ten thousand customers crammed into an area about the size of downtown Edmond.
There is no way to accurately describe what we saw today. Truly amazing. This is daily life in Mbandaka. Go to the market every morning and buy what you need to make breakfast lunch and dinner. We have pictures that can’t really explain the sounds and smells, all which are quite foreign to us Okies from the United States.
Meanwhile back at the drill site, the guys are making progress. Down to 23 meters (75 feet) now, we began to see some aggregate in our clay. After losing an hour’s work time yesterday to a storm that dumped more than three inches very quickly, we had the same thing happen again after lunch today.
Tomorrow is a day of rest, as we will be attending church in the morning and then satellite linking in for a joint church service with FCC Edmond in the afternoon. The drill team though, instead of taking the entire day off, will move to well site two for more training as we search for something other than clay to drill through. Wish them luck and say a little prayer.