Impenitrable Means Impenitrable

There is a nice article at today called Mountain Gorillas at Home. My gorilla photography pales before it so I will spare you of anything more than a link, below, but the area around the gorillas is interesting in its own right. Here are a couple of shots of where the Uganda gorillas live (there are also gorillas in Rwanda and Congo). This is a place called the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Strictly speaking, it’s not quite impenetrable. There is this road through it:

Adjoining the forest are heavily farmed, terraced fields. The hills are really steep, as you can see here:

We visited the gorillas in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, farther down the road (See the Mountain Gorillas Gallery at Here are a few things I wrote at the time, when CS&W was on Typepad. I guess they ought to still work: 12345678.

And while we’re here, apropos to nothing except that I just ran across this photo, and it’s also from Uganda, here is the only galloping hippo I have ever seen:

Click ’em all to enlarge them. And have a look at more in the Uganda Gallery and the Rwanda Gallery at

Weekend Reading

Here is a selection of fine reading material on which to muse this weekend:

The Fate of Earth by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker
Russia’s House of Shadows by Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker
A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas by Adam Rutherford in The Atlantic
Here’s What Would Happen If Donald Trump Nuked North Korea by Greg Fish at
Citizens of anywhere by Matthew Valencia at
Ça va un peu by Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books, reviewing Congo: The Epic History of a People by David van Reybrouck

Meanwhile on the Planet

This photo is from Amboseli, a park in Kenya famous for elephants, that my wife and I got into a groove of visiting a few times a few years ago. This is one of my favorite pictures, two friends greeting one another, querying each other, displaying obvious good will, emotions like humans.

I commend to you the author Carl Safina whose insights about animal minds are essential. See my posts Do Animals Think? and Elephants Display Emotion Just Like You Do for links to his work.

Just now, we’re all up in ourselves here in the United States about the eclipse next Monday. Our country closes up over myopic media-driven obsessions, the eclipse for one thing and this week, for another, Trump/Charlottesville, topped today with a side of possibly Islam-tinged terror in Barcelona (cable channels can never leave ‘possibly Islamic-tinged’ alone). Sometimes it’s hard to hear from our mass media about much anything else in the world beyond our country.

Sad and evil things happen out there. From the African continent this week, where dedicated people are fighting the good fight on behalf of the non-human world,  here are two:

Leading elephant conservationist shot dead in Tanzania

Three wildlife rangers killed in attack by violent militia in DRC/

Congo Intrigue


Battles for resources, outright wars and jockeying for power never seem to stop in eastern Congo.

Four men were jailed for eight years each in South Africa on Wednesday for attempting to murder a former Rwandan general. The Kagame government in Kigali disavows knowledge of the plot, sort of.

A tweet from Anjan Sundaram (@anjansun) points to this scary story involving a Belgian prince, AK-47 fire, a British-registered company based opposite the Ritz in London’s Mayfair and ongoing efforts to save the Virunga Park – and its small population of mountain gorillas – on Congo’s eastern border.

One tiny personal anecdote from the Congo border, albeit from the much safer Ugandan side.


And if you’re looking for an off the beaten track travel/adventure for your next read, I recommend Anjan Sundaram’s book called Stringer, A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo.

Two New Things to Read

One's on the web, the other's a book.

Enjoy Where is Cuba Going? by John Jeremiah Sullivan, in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It's long and meandering, in a good way. Sullivan is as flummoxed by the Florida Cuban community and the embargo as everybody else is, except the Florida Cuban community and anybody who has to navigate through them toward election.

Just one thing – he writes:

"Barack Obama was going to open things up, and he did tinker with the
rules regarding travel, but now they say that when you try to follow
these rules, you get caught up in all kinds of forms and tape."

Since his wife is Cuban, he can enter Havana under rules that are different from the ones we used on our visit a few months back, so he wouldn't have any experience with the new rules. For the record, there is a little more paperwork than, say, flying to Paris, akin to the kinds of things you have to file to visit, say, Belarus.But it's no big deal.

And staring down the epic Cuban Embargo had us anxious and alert re-entering Miami, but immigration couldn't have been more bored to see us. We might as well have brought along those Cuban cigars I left behind.


I've also just been reading, and recommend Chasing the Devil: A Journey Through Sub-Saharan Africa in the Footsteps of Graham Greene by Tim Butcher. Tim Butcher is a former British newspaper reporter and war correspondent now living in South Africa, who has that knack for travel in places you probably don't want to visit.

His previous book, Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country, in which he retraced Henry Morton Stanley's 1870 trek, was harrowing. In the new book Butcher sets out to cross Sierra Leone and Liberia. There's a particularly frightening section, and touching tribute, to two friends killed while reporting in Sierra Leone in 2000.

It's good stuff. Both Butcher books are worth a read.