We finally reached Franceville, which was just about nothing, nearly gone, completely disintegrated. Just a few hundred feet farther down the track, however, we found a fresh new hunting village: a few huts, two of them mud-and-stick, the others of palm frond and bark over poles. A few chickens wandered around, pecking in the dirt, and one shabby dog was lazing around, nose resting flat in the dirt.
The new hunting camp was called Djodibe and the dog named Plaisir-so we were told by Mbongo George, one of the three hunters who had built and now occupied the place. The others were Mbongo's brother Desiré and a colleague named Dieudonne, who were both elsewhere at the moment. There were also some wives and children living in Djodibe, who all concentrated on keeping themselves hidden, while fleetingly shooting out curious gazes now and then from inside one or another of the shadowy huts.
Mbongo George was a young man-in his thirties-wearing shorts, flipflops, and a red sport shirt. He had a broad and handsome face, a calm smile and steady gaze, and a very pleasant manner that I found relaxing. He also had the disconcerting fidget of wavering his legs open and shut as he talked. He spoke of gorilla hunting and gorilla eating freely, in a casual, matter-of-fact way, and our conversation involved a lot of questioning and answering that would be translated from Africanized French to English and Americanized French and back again in reverse.