tv Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown CNN December 27, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PST
all get the last laugh with you on "the ridiculist." >> so proud to be part of this team. thanks for watching this edition of "ac 360." "anthony bourdain parts unknown" starts right now. after nine days of threats of imprisonment, confiscation of footage, and what was the most chaotic, difficult, yet amazing trip of my life, the last thing that stands between us and our flight home is the reason we came. the congo river itself. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> the u.n. truck just said he's been here since this morning. >> i've been held up for days. >> what's up, freddie? >> they're starting the engine. >> awesome. >> just broke down again?
>> yeah. >> we now have one hour of daylight left. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> okay, great. >> here it comes. you learn quickly. in congo, things change at a moment's notice. >> welcome to the jungle. ♪ i took a walk ♪ through this beautiful world ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good ♪ in this beautiful world ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪
everyone gets everything he wants. i wanted to see the congo. for my sins, they let me. in "heart of darkness" joseph conrad writes of his alter ego -- when i was a little chap, i had a passion for maps. at that time, there were many blank spaces on earth. but there was one yet, the biggest, the most blank, that i had a hankering after.
this then is the congo. the size of all western europe combined. it should be africa's wealthiest nation. but people forget, or never even knew, that the 20th century's first holocaust happened here when belgium's king leopold managed to bamboozle the world into giving him personal title to the congo. leopold's agents of whom the mythical kurtz was one, raided, slaughtered, mutilated and pressed into forced labor much of the population, in a bloodthirsty quest for first ivory and then rubber. when independence finally came, the belgians trashed what they could, and left behind a completely unprepared tribally divided and largely ungovernable land mass, filled with stuff that everybody in the world
if you're looking to get to the eastern congo, and many would ask why you would even want to do that, the best way is to drive across from neighboring rwanda. this country, of course, not too long ago, suffered its own appalling genocide. behind the wheel, dan. he's been living in the drc for two years, working on a documentary about some of the several dozen rebel groups in the country. riding shotgun, dan's close friend and associate horeb, a congolese. they're taking me across the border. one side, rwanda, hotels, paved roads, internet, and paperwork to be filled out. just a few feet of barbed wire, machine guns and cement walls away -- this.
welcome to goma. a city of 1 million, the significant number of whom are idps, internally displaced people -- sitting, rather inconveniently, at the base of mt. niragango, a still smoldering volcano. current street level is about 12 feet above where it was in january 2002 when it last erupted. lava everywhere. which explains the less than smooth ride. one of the first things you notice out the car window, the u.n. about four months ago, the m-23, one of the various rebel groups
holed up in the jungle nearby, invaded the city. the ngos battened down the hatches. the u.n. stood by, hands tied. everyone else had to fend for themselves until the rebels withdrew. the congo was a place i've dreamed of visiting before i ever thought i would get the chance to travel the world. actually being here, i'm not so sure. dan, horeb and i head for a local restaurant. good food is going to be a challenge soon, so we take the opportunity to fill up on what we can. grilled chicken, gugali, pirripirri pepper, pretty nice meal. >> goma in the '50s, tourists used to come from as far as rhodesia up here to vacation.
>> amazing life. i remember in my childhood seeing lions just alongside the road. goma was a choice place for some time. >> they're not coming anymore? >> no. >> no? you're saying no? >> it's a red zone. it's looking like there won't be house-to-house fighting or artillery or mortars or anything dropping into goma. was today a good day? >> we have a rebel group just ten kilometers north of us, and maybe seven other rebel groups that are all caught in the blender. so. >> things change quickly in the congo. >> confused yet? virtually all of the eastern part of the country is being contested by rebel groups -- some local and others allegedly acting on behalf of interests based in neighboring countries. recently, the largely tutsi rwandan backed m-23 has been active in the area around goma. but the mostly huto is also here.
they can also refer to self-defense groups or specifically entities. some groups like the frpi are principally defending a stake in a resource like gold and others are mainly interested in fighting with a particular enemy. in their case, they have a beef with the fdlr. lots of other organizations controlling territory who haven't come up with a name or a cool acronym yet. this is only a fraction of the rebel groups in a single area of the congo. be advised, this map was hopelessly outdated before we even got here. >> it's all these variables kind of knotted into one big mess. these are the reasons why media has a difficult time, why the western world doesn't hear much about congo, because how can you sum it up in a three-minute report? >> but for us, goma is just a stopover on the way to the congo river.
so we need to keep moving. and roads, forget it. certainly nothing even remotely safe between goma and where we are headed. >> we're flying to kisangani, this is the preferred route. so we've charted a bush plane, formerly, the queen's traveling wardrobe. when she traveled in her younger years, we're told her clothes traveled in this beast. or so we're told. i have not seen a model of plane like this before. a first for me. you learn to take nothing for granted in the congo. uh-oh. just as we're about to take off, thunder, lightning. >> it looks fine to me. >> let's get this thing airborne. >> wow, nice. >> has to wait this one out a little. crashes are pretty commonplace. not so long ago, a plane with nearly 100 people on board went
down on the same route we're taking today. >> most planes crash in congo crash because of the weather, right? >> yeah, most of the time, yeah. >> not us. don't worry. >> impossible. >> the weather clears up, sort of. so we decide to give it a go. >> when the weather is very bad, stay on the ground. >> what about rebels? are they shooting at the planes? >> no. normally, no. [ laughter ] okay. we'll see you after your trip. >> yeah, yeah. >> have a good one. >> lifting off from goma, we head out over the shores of lake kivu before circling back north-northeast. our destination -- what conrad
the congo river stretches across the country's middle. conrad describes it as a twisting snake with its head in the atlantic ocean and its tail buried deep in africa's heart. to europeans, it was a natural route to transport slaves, ivory, rubber, minerals. the commodities upon which modern-day brussels and antwerp are built. for the congolese, both before and after the belgians, it provided more basic things. water to wash, to clean your clothes in, to cook with, to drink. also fishing. since long before the expeditions of dr. livingston and henry morton stanley, the wagenia tribe has been fishing the river in unique fashion. highly coordinated and
acrobatic, the wagenia dive into the treasurous rapids in what is still referred to as stanley falls. navigate down stream between baskets that need tending. perched on a precarious network of wooden poles, they hoist together. the catch these days -- not much. >> so it is the second biggest falls in the congo river. >> ogi is a fisherman and was a guide bringing tourists to his village. since the last two wars, kisangani tourism has been pretty much nonexistent. chief of the wagenia, pierre mu sala, is said to be a direct descendant of the king who
greeted stanley in the 1870s. thank him for the privilege of seeing his community. [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: it's a present from the chief. this is a way to welcome the delegation of cnn. >> the wagenia tribe made, what was in retrospect, the mistake of allowing stanley to pass. the famous explorer, of course, pretty much shot and raided his way along this historic route to the coast, before effectively jump-starting the colonial period. using stanley as administrator, king leopold of belgium claimed the congo as his personal property.
under leopold's reign, men, women, and children were tagged with numbers, separated into groups, given production quotas. if they fell short, they were whipped, their hands cut off, hanged. an estimated 10 million congolese were either starved, worked to death, executed or just killed where they stood, all in just over 20 years. by the end, half the population of the country was gone. have you ever thought about all those years ago that if your people had just killed stanley? >> translator: somebody else would have come. >> somebody else would have come. >> ordinarily, a large tiger fish like this one, it's going to the market, considered way too valuable to eat. but today -- guests.
>> it's a mean-looking fish. >> she used to sell fish in the market. >> the congolese standard, liboke. it can be pretty much anything wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. >> typical tradition. >> excellent meal. a lot of work. though it doesn't look like they are having an entirely miserable time of it, the water looks good. on a good day, how many of these? >> on a good day, 50. >> 50? >> bad -- -- they just -- one basket like this, they have about ten big fish, but the situation changes. the tourists used to come and see how the fishermen catch
fish. >> hundreds used to come, yes? things get a little better here, maybe they come back. >> i hope so. >> i hope so, too. ♪ after leopold, the belgian government took over and pretty much continued as before. an apartheid-like system of what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine. by the '50s, there was a beautiful modern infrastructure built -- railroads, hotels, sports clubs, schools. the envy of africa. humphrey bogart and katharine hepburn were here while filming "the african queen." they stayed at the luxury hotel pourquoi pas hotel. this is the pourquoi pas hotel
now. like everything else at that time, inhabited by squatters or simply eaten by the jungle. none of this was ever for the congolese. they weren't allowed in any of these buildings, except as help. not even allowed to walk their own streets after dark. not a lot of dependable electric power left in the city, but what lights do glow around town, much of it comes from places like this -- small kiosks serving the congolese version of barbecue and what passes for cold beer. christian is one of our fixers, tasked with keeping us on track and out of trouble. which, believe me, is a big job around here. you know, it's an amazing-looking city, if you blur your vision a little bit, you can see it the way it used to be. >> beautiful.
i think it could be the best place to live. very kind people. people like listening to music, sitting, taking their meals, eating. >> what's the congolese word for barbecue? >> barbecue. >> cheers. >> cheers. >> i like any meat on a grill. it's looking good. grilled goat with cobri, with a traditional stew on the side. >> now we're talking. >> roasted, put some sauce in there. >> that's delicious. >> as you can see, people don't eat meat. meat is quite expensive, almost $2. >> which is a lot. more than most people make in a day or even two days. what are the first things you buy if you're very, very poor? >> very poor, soap. >> soap. >> because at least you have to look a bit clean. >> soap first. >> soap. but in between, as congolese, you have to think of dressing,
looking smart, clothes. all these congolese will tell you if you give them $10, they will think of at least buying soap or food and keep make $1 to buy a shirt. >> so that's called pride. >> yeah. and there's hope. >> you can plan for tomorrow. >> for tomorrow. ♪ ♪ female announcer: get beautyrest, posturepedic,
in "heart of darkness," conrad writes about the greed of the belgian colonizers. they grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. it was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale. and after 75 years, the congolese had had enough. but independence came quickly. when the new country managed to inaugurate their first democratically elected leader, it was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale. and after 75 years, the congolese had had enough.
but independence came quickly. when the new country managed to inaugurate their first democratically elected leader, patrice lamumba, the cia and the british working through the belgians, had him killed. we helped to install this miserable bastard in his place -- joseph mobutu. he stole billions of dollars from his people and pretty much became the template for despotism in africa. needless to say, this deteriorated over the next 30 years. by the time he was done, the congo was mired in a series of civil wars, the government was no longer paying its bills, and the trains basically stopped running. this is kisangani station. there's one short run left.
service once a week, when operational, which isn't often, i'm guessing. abandoned by the belgians, shot up and stripped by rebels in the '90s, the station, the engines, the ancient passenger cars, and the tracks themselves, have slowly receded into the jungle. and yet all these years later, with hardly any resources, alub emile, the railway administrator and a staff of clerks, conductors, mechanics and engineers show up at work and do what they can in an attempt to keep things in working order.
how do you do? >> he says you're welcome to see this place. >> how many employees still work here? [ speaking foreign language ] >> so at one time, you could dispatch a freight to south africa? [ speaking foreign language ] so a hypothetical question -- if the government said, okay, we are ready. we have the money, we would like to, as quickly as possible, get operational, does he have the workers ready to go? [ speaking foreign language ] >> and this is one of the few
>> and this is one of the few things here that's working today. a feature of great pride to the staff. the railway employees, i'm told, do not get paid, yet they continue to show up and work. ♪ >> it is said of the building of the country's once vast rail network, one congolese died for every single tie.
you lost your way on that river, as you would in a desert, until you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once. so conrad described the congo after piloting steamships in the early days of belgian colonialism. i've had something of a multidecade obsession with the congo. it's been kind of a personal dream, if you will, to travel the congo river. and now, for better or worse, i get that chance. we've rented a trusted vessel. and i shall dub thee "the captain willard." all right. did you maggots load the chickens? finding food along the way, it's anticipated, will be a challenge. refrigeration of any kind is impossible. >> okay. well, i'm psyched.
my dream has finally come true. blocked by officials? this could be months. okay. let the probing begin. [ speaking foreign language ] >> now, how do we do this? >> let's get under way before they figure a new tax to levy on us. our trip down river will take us some 120 kilometers even deeper into the jungle. but instead of kurtz and his ivory horde, a crumbling belgian research center with a shadowy past awaits us at our destination. it's the turn of the century map, so kisangani was then called stanleyville.
leopoldville would be here. >> 3,000 kilometers or something like that. >> a long way to go, and we're taking a full ride. >> that's what we're doing, right? >> all the way to the atlantic? >> you didn't tell them yet? >> i don't think we have enough spam, gentlemen. a half day's journey down river, there's a local dignitary we've promised to visit. >> there's the chief who is coming down. >> we arrive, late. but the king is still waiting for us. traditional headgear. not so traditional suit. the medals given by the belgians proving his royal lineage.
>> this place belongs to the mombuli ethnic group. >> and he's the king? [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: my father ruled from 1928 and i come after him at 1963. >> that's a lot of history. incredible. we give him a goat as a way of being so late. i'm sorry we can't stay longer and he gives me a simple, hefty-looking bracelet only later do i come to appreciate it for what it is. >> horeb tells me it goes back to arab poring geese times. the arabs taught them how to do
this. they wear them on the wrists and ankles. it's older than our story, probably. the chief said his father gave it to him in 1935. so who knows, man? wow. so where did you get the bracelet? oh, an african king gave it to me, the congo river. where did you get yours? we've come a long way down river, with many kilometers still to go, attention has turned towards the evening meal. i figure i'll make coq au vin. which a simple way of dealing with tough stringy birds in a pot. getting close to killing time. the moment of truth. it's quickly getting dark, and i'm very aware of a number of things. how do they usually kill chickens? >> small knife. >> small knife, cut the head off. our chickens are thin, scraggly, tough.
>> he's biting me! >> in order to make anything any kind of edible, i'm probably going to have to stew the crap out of them. but still we have to kill these things and collect their blood. which if you know anything about them, it takes time. >> i'll hold mine. you hold yours. >> you want to eat, you have to kill your own chicken and pluck it, too. but every man has a breaking point. in retrospect, perhaps this was ours. >> so hard. >> harder, harder. almost through, man. >> no, i'm not. >> killing him, man. >> clean kill. clean kill. >> now you can join our tree house. by the time our birds are cleaned and plucked, the sun is down and dinner is still a long way off. ♪ clean out the chickens ♪ it's time to kill chickens female announcer: it's time to make room
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generator keeps cutting out. the damn generator keeps kicking off. i really need light so i can see what i'm cutting. i can't cut what i can't see. >> there's only 240 watts. there's no way it's the draw. >> we're not going to eat at all. i'm never going to get through with this. >> machete? >> no. maybe we should figure out how to cook dinner unless you don't want to eat anything. because we really won't eat any dinner here. i've had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and i would like to eat, especially after getting these chickens. all right. machete. it would be apropos to point out we do not want to be moving at night. we would not like to run aground in the middle of the freaking congo. >> swimming now. >> is he worried about crocs?
the current's unpredictable. visibility nil. time to tie up for the night. generator issues more or less fixed, but now another just as serious problem presents itself. with the lights burning, it becomes insanely buggy. crush the wrongone of these moths, and you will blow up like a balloon. seriously. let's put the top on, bring it up to a boil. three hours later, it looks like the jungle-style stew might actually work out after all. okay. so who wants to bring this over, carefully, to the table?
all right. let's eat. >> bon appetit. >> bon appetit. in the end, my coq au vin was a bit scraggly but passable. it is written that i should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. i think i now understand what that means. ♪ next morning on the river, and of course we're not alone. fishermen from all the surrounding villages have heard of us, and have, long before we're even awake, come by to check us out.
can you find a couple onions for me? don't go crazy. if we don't have them, we don't have them. >> i will not go crazy. >> all right. i am about to get on the spam and egg patrol. they may have invented the stealth bomber, maybe this will be our crowning accomplishment as a culture. >> been there, boys. >> once we finally get there, we still have to get all the way back. >> coming back was never part of the plan, man. we're not coming back. >> they'll find us ten years later maimed in the bush with a necklace of spam cans. that was glorious. time to get back out on the river. we have places to go. two days down the congo we're finally nearing our destination.
>> belgian research station that's still functioning in some capacity. it's about 30 kilometers in, over 250 buildings. they're doing it all here. >> much myth and legend surrounds this place. there we go. >> yeah. >> it has been inferred by some that the belgians conducted uranium enrichment and a host of bizarre experiments here. however, the facts would suggest the scariest thing to ever happen here, some genetically modified banana varietals. >> you made it, man, yangambi.
with independence began a rapid decline. the eventual cessation of funding. of the hundreds of structures built here, what used to be housing, laboratories, hospitals and research facilities, the vast complex's library is clearly the most important to those who remain. though crumbling like everything else, the grass is cut and grounds maintained. it's swept and kept clean. and, yet, most incredibly, this man, casango bertra, still fights a daily battle to stave off further decay to the thousands of volumes of books and research materials contained on these shelves. so what happened here? did the place stay open? did people continue to do research? [ speaking foreign language ]
>> there is some new stuff. i don't get anything. but those who have been there for long, they get an allowance from the government. >> independence comes. what happens here? [ speaking foreign language ] >> so unless i'm mistaken, the gentleman just said that cutting edge research moved to burundi and elsewhere. the congolese who remain, their mission all these years later, has been to preserve the patrimony that existed. all this was state-of-the-art back in '50s when the library was built. but for 20 years, there hasn't been electricity to run dehumidifiers to keep out the damp. through so many wars and through so many difficulties, he has maintained this fast to an
extraordinary degree. why? [ speaking in foreign language ] >> staff still show up to work and organize. catalog and write requests for funding. perhaps the kinshasa or a central office where someone may or may not ever respond. he was here preindependence, yes? >> yes. >> does he remember the belgian rule? [ speaking in foreign language ] >> yeah, he remembers the period of colonialism. that was the best time they were living.
>> what do you say to someone who suggests that belgian colonialism might have been the good times? the road home, such as it is. rotting bridges. makeshift ferries. it's an adventure. fortunately, ours was a good adventure. the congo is a place that has always fascinated me. this is a trip i've been wanting to take since i have been writing stories or making television. but what i found was unexpected. i met a lot of people who, for a long time, have been waiting, hoping for things to get better.
a lot more hope here than there's any right to expect. when all is said and done, i wanted to go to the congo and i did. ♪ they don't look friendly. who are those -- anyway. >> some ugly dutch guys it looks like with guns. i'm guessing particularly friendly to the current power. they look like they are either coming from or going from