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Barge M/B SETB, carrying NPR's Ofeibea Quist Arcton, heads down the Congo River.

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Congo Odyssey, Day Three: The Water Is 'Like A Dark Brown Soup Without Flour'

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Congo Odyssey, Day Three: The Water Is 'Like A Dark Brown Soup Without Flour'

Cheek-by-jowl, boarding the barge M/B SETB as it sets off down the Congo River -- a colourful, cacophonous cocktail. Jonathan Blakely/NPR hide caption

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Jonathan Blakely/NPR

At last, after five days looking for a ride from Mbandaka, it's time to hit that mighty Congo River! Boarding the barge, the M/B SETB, is an eye-opener. 

It's full to the rafters. Women, men, children, animals, cargo, crew — you name it.  Climbing onto the barge is like entering another world — a floating refugee camp.  Higgledy-piggledy, it's all on board, piled ten feet high in places, with possessions and people e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r- e.

Barge M/B SETB, carrying NPR's Ofeibea Quist Arcton, heads down the Congo River.

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129579790/129579888" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Kinshasa — here we come!