The bow of the ship is consistently the most tolerable location in which to spend ones day, I have found. Not only is it far from the abominable noise of the engines, but it also catches a small amount of breeze, and provides a modicum of relief from the intolerable heat. A number of passengers have found this location agreeable, and in the evenings we often have quite a party gathered here, swatting mosquitoes and laughing in the heat. Indeed, the atmosphere is most convivial. Surprising, considering the company, which is as rough as any you might encounter. There is Mr Appleby, the white hunter, who makes quite a spectacle with his native guide always silent at his side. The two seem quite inseparable. The man is quite affable, and I believe we have adopted him as our leader. Far more sinister is the German, Herr Blicken. I believe he is an ivory trader, come to make a large purchase. Apparently his wife has accompanied him on the journey, but she remains in her cabin at all times. Mrs Peeters, who is traveling to meet her husband, charms us all with her witty conversation. She has come to serve as our interpreter with the crew and the captain. Being Belgian, she has an excellent command of French and German, and her English is flawless as well. I feel my own limitations sharply in her presence. Last, there is an assortment of Belgians of the roughest type, employees of the stations along the river. These last come and go with great frequency, and I have not come to know any of them well. They speak little, and with the foulest language, even in the company of ladies.
Of the crew, the less said the better. They are without exception hideous great swarthy natives and half-castes, sullen and brooding, their bodies over-muscled from their labour. At night they drink, and chew some kind of awful paste which stains their lips. They inhabit the stern, seemingly impervious to the noise and the heat. Their king and master is the captain, a man of Arab extraction, who exists in a permanent rage. His bellows pierce even the noise of the engines, and the whole crew seems quite terrified of him.
Today is our first day of travel upriver, and it began with a stop for supplies at a small and unimaginably filthy port town. Seething with all kinds of exotic humanity, the port was by far the most startling experience I have had since I arrived. I elected not to go ashore, though Mr Appleby offered to accompany me. From the relative safety of the ship, I saw what I can only assume was a column of slaves, bound for some foreign port. Bound by the wrists, and dressed in rags, I believe they were the most wretched human being I had ever laid eyes upon. My heart went out to their plight, and I thought of the newspapers back home, who have said so little of this affair. I believe my impressions of my journey will make quite a splash, upon my return.