Dinosaur hunting in the Heart of Darkness

Exploration of Conspiracy Theories from Perspective of Esoteric Traditions

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Re: Dinosaur hunting in the Heart of Darkness

Postby Sri Lanky » Wed May 16, 2012 3:15 pm

...or Nigeriens?
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Re: Dinosaur hunting in the Heart of Darkness

Postby gnaruki » Wed May 16, 2012 10:06 pm

Either way, they got $10 outta me.

If I'm to judge them by the photos they look like guys that would say "dude, bra, hell ya, we got money from micro-financiers on the internet and now it's time to go big or go home! OOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" followed by a chest bump.
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Re: Dinosaur hunting in the Heart of Darkness

Postby gnaruki » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:00 am

Figured this would turn into a mess:


Project Update #12: An update long overdue..
For backers only, Posted by Stephen McCullah
Hey, all!! I realize this is LONG overdue; but . . . we've been hoping (and waiting) so we could respond with good news. However, after waiting for it for some time I decided I needed to go ahead and fill everyone in on the status of the expedition as of right now.

I so wanted to get some sort of information on the status of everything before getting in touch with everyone, but you all have been amazingly supportive, patient and faithful to us and I can't thank you enough for that. So please accept my apology for keeping you in the dark so long on how things are progressing.

As I previously stated the ROC was a gold mine for discovery due to the incredible lack of research that has been done inside its borders. This was very apparent as soon as we got there. It is by far the most secretive and mysterious place I have ever been or could have even imagined.

Pictures are not allowed, especially those involving any military and it is their aversion to having any secrets revealed that causes them to confiscate any cameras or even camera phones if they suspect this has been the case. My Iphone was taken, as well as, Sam's new camera. We had been trying to snap pictures when we could as the nature scenery is breathtaking, and the surroundings are quite unusual and interesting. It was so dissapointing to not be free to capture and share as much as we wanted with you.

The ROC government wants you to account for every hour while there. You have to register and get written permission to stay. Each village has its own autonomous government and requires permits or whatever they come up with or feel is important to make sure you understand they are in charge. Overall, the people are very paranoid and suspicious. I had read, researched and knew most of this, but believed because of my deep desire and it being my dream, I could surely beat the overwhelming odds of pushing into this wild country where no one else wanted to go.

Now, I can confidently say, though, that I understand why very few have attempted to cross into the "heart of darkness". Every step you take there seems to present a new and totally different obsticle making it seem like you just hit the roadblock that's going to stop the expedition.
Pushing forward with all you've got, you gamble your life most days being there (but that's also one of the exciting aspects), and your stress level is through the roof. This being a long-time passion and dream of mine, I refused to be defeated.

The ROC is an ever changing country and over the last few years the changes have been very profound. As a kid I would hear tales of the ever shrinking rain forest, but thought very little about it, honestly, because of the apparent endless vastness. However, stories from former workers of the logging camps tell of each camp 4 to 5,000 workers per camp armed and fed with truck loads of animals from the jungle. According to many of them and even the hunting expedition leaders that were supposed to lead us into the bush, the jungle has been wiped nearly clean and is dissapearing at a surprisingly fast rate. How sad it that? One of the last huge uncharted areas is being completely dessimated. Go on google earth and you can see for yourself. We must get there before that happens and we do not have a lot of time.

The Congo is definitely one of the last frontiers.. even facing the challenges we do I will never ever give up on continuing this dream. It may take longer than expected but it's just a matter of how to proceed with the hand we've been dealt. As I've said before we've been working with Barcroft Productions on filming the expedition and they are still interested but had to pull out their financial support due in part to the difficulty in obtaining the video permits now required to film legally in the ROC. Of course, this was a great blow since we were certainly counting on those funds when making the budget. The kickstarter money (your amazing support and financial pledges) got us our gear, tickets ($6,000) to ROC, our accomodations and food, while there, which you will see by the pics was expensive but very lacking in comfort, but was relying on the funds from the documentary to keep us going forward.

To update further, Joe Marrero was sort of our Liasion to Barcroft, however, Joe and I began to disagree on how to properly deal with several of the unforseen issues that came about. Not being the one actually in the ROC, I know it was hard for him to understand the obsticals we were facing. Each government official wanted a bribe or more money to expidite the process only to come back and say it could be anywhere from 3 days to 3 or 4 months. If I had been the one in the states, not seeing and living it, I may have reacted in much the same way.

He was adament that we proceed without the research permit into the north of the country. Sam and I were certain of this being a bad idea from what we had seen of the people and country and been told from our reliable contacts in the forestry department. Just the fact that I put this on kickstarter, actually took a preliminary trip there, proves I am a risk taker and not easily dissuaded, however, when you are assured by very knowledgable authorities on the ROC, that to do so we could each face a life prison sentence for trying to take in a firearm without the proper permit or even export specimens without permission, or filming without a permit, we hesitated to do so. Also, without a permit we may have been forced to keep any major discoveries secret which went against the whole reason for our expedition. No pygmie guide would accompany us into the jungle without us having at least one rifle or gun. It was just unthinkable to do so to anyone who had been in the jungles or even in other areas of the ROC.

The Brazzaville government was also now very aware of why we were in the ROC by then and we were told we would not be allowed to even leave Brazzaville borders now without those permits. They were now watching us very closely. They seemed to think I was some type of military or something. But on a more humorus note, Sam was often called, 'Jesus' by the villagers and children. There were a few times I wished he could have turned some water into wine or at least got us some loaves and fishes. Once we could only find some cold beans and unskinned cow tongue for our dinner. It was not long after that meal, we both found our accomodations quite uncomfortable having only a hole for a commode and no running water.

As we continued to corrosponded with Joe, however, he thought we were being too cautious and decided he would start his own expedition. So . . . Joe left the team. I won't judge him too harshly as I may have felt the same had I been the one in the states and not experiencing what Sam and I were. I wish him luck as he in no way has a realistic view of the country and what to expect. He and I have the same goals so, of course, I still wish him the best.

Anyway, even with Joe having previously been the liason to Barcroft Productions, we were able to keep them with us. However, learning of the logistics issues they were going to have to face working on this project they withdrew the financial support they had told Joe they would provide, so . . .this has come as quite a shock to our finances. We knew we could not afford to stay on waiting for the permits, without the assurance of these funds. So, although we had to make the decision to return from the Congo for awhile, we were still hopeful of a positive outcome.


After our recent return from our preliminary trip I had been able to stay in touch with our guy on the ground, Ahmar, to get updates and continue going forward on our research permits and their status. Ahmar was continually positive, assuring me that it is coming along, but so far I have received nothing concrete. Also, checking with him regarding the status of our bracelets (which were supposed to have already been sent), and the gun which we have been trying to exchange for a registered firearm, he assured me that everything was good.

However, I am very sad to say, that the last few weeks I have not been able to get in touch with him in any way (Email, Phone, or Facebook). This breaks my heart as he was our soul contact and source for information and permit progress in a country where the availability of anyone who speaks or understands English is extremely rare. Another set back by the ROC.

Of course, my first concern was that something had happened to Ahmar, but at this point it would probably be safe to assume the worst; that he has run off with the money we've entrusted to him and our rifle. In our last conversation, I voiced my great conern that we had not yet received the bracelets and kept digging for more specific information about them and then asked regarding the rifle permits. I'm assuming that my questioning about those, as well as, our rifle sparked his disappearance. He was the most trustworthy person we had contacted, yet living in that poor of a country, it was just too much of a temptation for him.

We are not defeated, just delayed. I personally will not let this dream die and know that those of you who have shown faith in me and this team by donating and with your encouragement also want to see this expedition succeed. This expedition was a way for all of you to go on an expedition with me and I will try and make sure to get us all there. As far as the bracelets, I will continue to try and trace down, Ahmar.

You will get your bracelets if I have to make them myself. : )

Also, I will add that, when I knew we had our tickets home, I couldn't help myself and collected and preserved six specimens and snuck them home in my suitcase. Pictures have been sent to our correspodant from UMKC (University of Missouri-Kansas City) There is a chance that at leat one may be a new species of tarantula and one a sub-species of large water bug. I was not coming back empty handed on this preliminary trip.

Again, I apologize for the lack of prompt communication. You all deserved quicker response but I will be honest when I say that these setbacks have come as a great surprise and dissapointment to me as well as I postponed college, quit my job, and spent all savings to make it there. Please know that if the unthinkable should happen and this expedition is permenently postponed longer than is fair to you, my supporters, I will make sure and begin to personally repay each backer as I can. I say this so you will know that I am still planning to make it back to the ROC but either way I am going to make it right.

With Sincere Thanks,

Stephen
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