Day 71: Goma, Congo

What am I doing?

Three dodgy women in clean fluorescent vests insist my yellow fever paper work is fake.

After a long conversation in which I exhaust my nine French words, I’m given an ultimatum: I pay 40$ for the blind eye treatment or 70$ for a more authentic forgery.

I choose the forgery.

Yellow fever.

Yellow fever.

Never mind that Ebola stations are everywhere.

Never mind that men in white coats and purple plastic gloves are screaming through surgical masks into bullhorns demanding that I rinse my hands in chlorinated water for the third time.

Never mind the pacified nurses with trackless eyes pointing dirty temperature guns at blur woven individuals, click click click, where are the people infected with the most dangerous disease this century?

Yellow fever.

That’s what you’re shaking me down for.

What am I doing?

I think as I walk across the Rwandan border into Goma DRC.

A military envoy with 15 armed men sitting back to back, arms right angle across their chests, fingers on triggers, following my Toyota to Le Parc National De Virunga.

What are you doing?

The Ranger asks after seeing that I intend to climb Mount Nyiragongo wearing toe shoes.

What am I doing!

I ask myself as I gingerly navigate the asymmetric landscape with screaming feet, when hail reminds me I’m passing through sulphur coated clouds.

What the fuck am I doing?

I murmur as pearl sized ice balls ricochet off my expensive Ethiopian dress pants.

What am I doing?

Shaking uncontrollably with chill as hail and heavy rain pound the wooden roof of my warm, cabin inspired, volcano top sanctuary.

When I open the door I’m in a dream. The world is a cloud. Green textures are replaced by opaque pixelated greys until the ground, sky and reality disappear into a wonderful gradient of pastel mist.

What am I doing?

Climbing into an active volcano at dusk in a hail storm. Alone.

Sitting uncomfortably next to rock destroyed seismographs, seismometers and the solar panels that used to power them.

What am I doing in this graveyard?

Depending on my misfiring headlamp as I slowly press load bearing weight on suspicious wet rocks that I’m certain have never been touched before.

I’m adrenaline drunk as I scramble up the high stakes Jenga problem.

Finally I crawl from the inner lip.

Much further from where I descended.

Seriously Bobby, what are you doing?

The sky glows orange as wet mist blows through me, the sound of liquid rock churning sounds like one long wave crashing into one long wave.

It’s constant.

After some time it’s hypnotic.

Rocks exploding jolt me from my trance.

Then a flash of lightning. Templates of jagged rocks and ominous clouds are invited into the canvas with a quick breath of incendiary light.

What am I doing?

Am I alive?

If I am, was I?

I mean, I saw Fast and Furious in theatres.

How can this be the same life?

It feels like I started this life as Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo and now I’m Donkey Kong in Bandersnatch.