Enjoy the forest munro advised him this is the last

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“Enjoy the forest,” Munro advised him. “This is the last time you’ll feel cool and dry for quite a while.” Elliot agreed that the forest was pleasant. “Yes, very pleasant.” Munro nodded, with an odd expression on his face. The Barawana Forest was not virginal. From time to time, they passed cleared fields and other signs of human habitation, although they never saw farmers. When Elliot mentioned that fact, Munro just shook his head. As they moved deeper into the forest Munro turned self-absorbed, unwilling to talk. Yet he showed an interest in the fauna, frequently pausing to listen intently to bird cries before signaling the expedition to continue on. During these pauses, Elliot would look back down the line of porters with loads balanced on their heads, and feel acutely his kinship with Livingstone and Stanley and the other explorers who had ventured through Africa a century before. And in this, his romantic associations were accurate. Central African life was little changed since Stanley explored the Congo in the 1870s, and neither was the basic nature of expeditions to that region. Serious exploration was still carried out on foot; porters were still necessary; expenses were still daunting— and so were the dangers. By midday, Elliot’s boots had begun to hurt his feet, and he found that he was exceedingly tired. Apparently the porters were tired too, because they had fallen silent, no longer smoking cigarettes and shouting jokes to one another up and down the line. The expedition proceeded in silence until Elliot asked Munro if they were going to stop for lunch. “No,” Munro said. “Good,” Karen Ross said, glancing at her watch. Shortly after one o’clock, they heard the thumping of helicopters. The reaction of Munro and the porters was immediate—they dived under a stand of large trees and waited, looking upwards. Moments later, two large green helicopters passed overhead; Elliot clearly read white stenciling: “FZA.”
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123 Munro squinted at the departing craft. They were American-made Hueys; he had not been able to see the armament. “It’s the army,” he said. “They’re looking for Kigani.” An hour later, they arrived at a clearing where manioc was being grown. A crude wooden farmhouse stood in the center, with pale smoke issuing from a chimney and laundry on a wash line flapping in the gentle breeze. But they saw no inhabitants. The expedition had circled around previous farm clearings, but this time Munro raised his hand to call for a halt. The porters dropped their loads and sat in the grass, not speaking. The atmosphere was tense, although Elliot could not understand why. Munro squatted with Kahega at the edge of the clearing, watching the farmhouse and the surrounding fields. After twenty minutes, when there was still no sign of movement, Ross, who was crouched near Munro, became impatient. “I don’t see why we are—” Munro clapped his hand over her mouth. He pointed to the clearing, and mouthed one word: Kigani.
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