In the black of night thunder explodes seeming to shake the ground itself as rods of rain pound down. Autonomic flight or fight response triggered. And incredulity. So this is the heart of darkness, here in the ‘big jungle’ as termed reverentially even by the Congolese. Before the daily deluge, striking out from the camp alone along the track carpeted with tropical mulch, the rainforest life’s cacophony overwhelmed. Pure blackness, save for tiny stars formed of some bugs’ bioluminescence. Endless range of squawks, whistles, croaks, hisses, buzzes, rumbles, chirps, rustles, a low growl maybe … during the drive up from the river a leopard bounded across the remote logging road ahead: Senses overloaded by wondrous but extreme unfamiliarity prompt an anxious about turn back to the compound.

On this side of the city here and there are viewing platforms of scaffold about a half storey high. In biting central European cold a clamber up the clanky steps reveals the Brandenburg Gate. Splendid yet forlorn and impotent sentinel of the death-strip. Marooned by tall, hard concrete slabs, coils of barbed wire, in no-man’s land. Above, crammed in watch-tower turrets East German soldiers’ faces turn cold indifferent stares. A few kilometres West the Ku’damm’s opulence spits in the face of communist empire destitution. On the scaffold platform witnesses’ noses are hard up against a torn World, the frighteningly fragile balance of power: Peace on the precipice, as Cold War propaganda has embedded in a generation’s childhood psyche. The Wall’s abject futility spawns a physical upwelling of sorrow.

next trace

all traces