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January 22, 2002

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Rwandan gorilla time! This time we embarked on a serious trek, almost to the top of Bisoke mountain thru thick jungle to find a new gorilla family. The tracks led deep into the jungle and we followed them there. After three hours of hard trekking, climbing through thick jungle, falling up to our chests in holes of vegetation, stinging our hands and arms on prickly nettles, we found our gorilla family.
We sat down next to the gorillas while they munched on vegetation; we were close enough to pass the salt shaker if they asked. The gorillas rustled the trees and brush around us, eighteen of them: a big silverback chief, a few smaller males, many females, and a mother carrying a newborn. We walked with them as they moved down the mountain. Some of the males beat their chests and cried out. We've never felt so high.
The dominant male gorilla, called a 'silverback,' is easily identified by his massive size and distinguished by the silver hair on his back.
Gorillas are vegetarians, not people-eaters, so nothing to worry about. Just don't eat any leaves while they're watching.
Someone could use dandruff control Head-n-Shoulders.
In the evening we strolled around Ruhengeri. The town mayor visited us (he owned the abandoned construction site where we slept). and he talked about his friendship with Kagame, the Rwandan president, and Museveni, the Ugandan president. Must be nice to have friends in high places. He gave us a ride to Dian Fossey's favorite lodge for dinner. Dian Fossey became famous researching gorillas and writing "Gorillas in the Mist." We listened to the story about how she was macheted to death because of her uncomprising and belligerent stance against gorilla poachers. Her murderers remain at large.