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Offline NiteOwl

To the Kongo Kingdom
« Reply #80 on: November 27, 2019, 09:08:31 am »
As in the towns, cleaners also sweep the beaches to remove what gets washed up and dropped down. It looks like wheel rims are in short supply- or maybe suitable axles are. Crabs scurry along the beach, popping in and out of their holes, rushing along the edge of the water.

We take a look around our paradise, and find the lodge’s generators behind a screen. They are running flat out (like our aircon), making quite a racket. But with fuel aplenty, this is the way electricity is generated in most of Angola.

There’s bar at the deck and we sit down for the (free) continental breakfast. It’s surprisingly wholesome, as is the coffee! Only two other guests checked in last night, a French dancer who has a local "guide" in tow to show her around.

A cursory check on the bikes reveals a potential problem, which we remove just in time before it becomes a real one:

As we are about to depart, the receptionist comes over to ask where we are going. We want to go further north, but there seems to be a problem. After a lot of hand-waving it’s clear that there is no fuel until N’zeto, more than 200 km away. There’s no filling station in Barra do Dande either, but the lodge’s Kewiseki driver gets commandeered to show us where to get some.

There’s a car packed with containers of fuel next to this “depot”. Pretty dangerous, the place reeks of fuel. Of course, there is a handsome markup on the pump price, but we buy extra to take an entire 20 litre container.

It’s after noon by the time we finally get moving. Initially, the progress is slow as the road is severely potholed and there's a fair number of trucks about. Not to mention the usual foot-, bicycle and scooter traffic. But soon enough we rejoin the main road, and can really open up. Despite the warnings to the contrary from our hosts, we find a fully equipped filling station just before the turnoff to Ambriz, the next coastal town. The vegetation is dense and varied.

A quarter of an hour later we cross the Rio Pontas Freitas Morna (“warm river”) to enter Zaïre province- the same name by which the DRC was known during Mobuto Sese Seko's reign. The overlapping of names in this region is common, as the local tribes ebbed and flowed from one conqueror to the next until the borders of the African colonies were fixed during the Berlin conference in 1885.

Upstream, there’s an old bridge with half of its girders missing. At the end of the new bridge, there’s the usual interprovincial police checkpoint but we are waved through.

It’s time for something to eat, but the vegetation along the road is pretty dense until we find a short side road with a hut next to it. It’s very hot, and tsetse flies descend when we take our jackets off to decant the remaining fuel.

The hut is deserted.

Some meagre belongings litter the area around the bed. The mosquito net does not look like it will repel the kind of flies zooming around here.

Progress is swift (some extra ponies from that dense sea-level air!) and  it’s well before sunset when we pull up outside a bank in N’zeto. It’s a substantial place by local standards, complete with street lamps and a double carriageway leading to the port.

We have to make a call- stay or go? A man in a suit at the cellular shop speaks English (hurrah!) and says he is visiting his parents. He recommends the local hotel. It sounds tempting, but we really want to get across the border tomorrow- and that is still nearly 300 km away. So we decide to carry on until it is dark and stop at the supermarket at the edge of the town to get supplies for supper.

The local wheels look well used- quite a contrast with the MPLA models we saw near Xangongo. The tube is just about peeking out of the sidewall and brakes are a distant memory. Somebody kicks it over and a wheel falls out…

The next coastal town is Soyo, right on the mouth of the Congo river. It’s also the northernmost town of Angola, apart from the two main border posts with the DRC. At this point, the Congo river delta is 12 km wide, so a ferry ride is risky.

Further inland, Matadi used to be the main thoroughfare and we have a dummy booking for $120 at the Hotel Fortune there, which was required to obtain a visa into the DRC. Just outside this town is a suspension bridge across the Congo river, but the approach from the Angolan side is in a very bad state and we were advised against it.

The recommended route is inland from N’zeto through M’banza Kongo, so that’s where we are heading…and then promptly get flagged down by a police patrol. They’re friendly and helpful, and the senior officer speaks English. We had hoped to refuel en route, but once again get told that there’s no fuel (until M’banza Kongo), so we have to backtrack to the Sonangol filling station on the outskirts of N’zeto.

A welcome sight greets us at the pumps, and we chat to the driver, Nico van Niekerk:

He is also en route to Luvo and confirms that there is no other practical way into the DRC at present. We exchange mobile numbers- you never know in a foreign country – and he also gives us the contact number of his fixer at the DRC border.

By the time we get back the police patrol is gone. Compared to the coastal road, we’re back on the straight and narrow here.

With this kind of dense vegetation we need to find a camping spot well before dark, and we don’t make much progress before we pass what looks like a deserted quarry. There’s a nice clearing behind the boom gate, ideal for pitching the tent. 

But the place is not deserted- an AK47 appears behind the boom, followed by its owner. Despite the firepower, he’s friendly enough and we’re let in. After handing over two Amarulas to the guard and his friend, all is well and we set up camp to enjoy a cold beer and cider as the sun sets.

After supper, it’s time for some light painting- bless this house!

Our local version of Eskom glowing in the dark- no load-shedding here!

There’s a bit of a coastal fog as we make our breakfast the next morning, but it clears as the day warms up.

The flat coastal terrain gives way to hills and valleys- exhilarating riding!

We pull over on a side road to enjoy the scenery.

The first inland town worthy of the name is Tomboco. It boasts a dilapidated park with a statue of Agostinho Neto (who else?) opposite the police station.

Sometimes surprises appear in the most unlikely places. Like the shops lining the streets on the other side of the park, where an artist has painted some charming murals on the walls facing the passing traffic.

We pull over at a bakery to stock up on some fresh coffee supplies from a French merchant. The shelves are pretty full, and you can even get a Celine Dion DVD here!

Although there’s no filling station (as mentioned by the cops) there’s bottled fuel aplenty on offer on the opposite side of the road as well as fresh fruit.

Angola is still unspoilt by tourism- although the kids will look at you when you pass by, there's no expectation of anything as is often the case closer to home.

The route remains entertaining as it weaves up and down through the villages.

Once again pulling off the road for a coffee break is almost impossible until we spot a small side road opposite a set of cellphone towers. Easy to miss with the dense vegetation. Not so easy to miss is the throb of the generators powering the towers- as in most remote of Angola, they’re an easy choice when there’s no electricity but lots of fuel around.

More villages line the approach to M’banza Kongo (City of Congo) until the road climbs noticeably to the town proper. This used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Kongo, founded around 1390. In 1482 the first Portuguese explorers arrived and later they renamed the city to São Salvador.

The Kongo rulers soon became dependant on European support to maintain control over smaller tribes, but the only commodity that they could trade for this support was enslaved prisoners of war, and they soon became an international currency.

Angola became the principal source of slaves forced into the Atlantic Slave Trade to Brazil and the Caribbean, where they were in demand for the labour-intensive tobacco, cotton and sugar industries. These commodities were shipped to Europe, from where manufactured goods completed the trade triangle back to Africa.

After the independence of Brazil, Portugal abolished the slave trade in 1836 and this forced the shift to alternative sources of income like rubber and the ivory trade. The Kongo kingdom ceased to exist in the early 1900’s when it was integrated into the Portuguese colony of Angola.

Today, little of the city’s past glory is visible, but worse than that: the bikes are on reserve and the pumps at the city entrance are dry!

Navigation proves tricky, due to (of all things) one way streets! At the upper end of town is an incongruous Soviet-style statue featuring a couple who have tamed the country: “Monument dedicated to the peasants of the kingdom of the Kongo”. The alsation on the leash looks rather out of place.

Rounding the statue we eventually find the way out and join the road to the border. I expect to see more filling stations here, and am not disappointed.

What is disappointing is the long queues of vehicles lined up for fuel. Most are not from Angola, but the DRC and we soon learn why.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 11:37:32 am by NiteOwl »
Do it before you die!
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Offline Rooi Wolf

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #81 on: November 28, 2019, 06:15:39 am »
Stuff of legends. Really enjoying this,thanks..!!  :thumleft:

Offline Berden

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #82 on: November 28, 2019, 01:26:28 pm »
Nice report, please continue  :)

Offline Fuzzy Muzzy

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #83 on: November 29, 2019, 12:55:53 pm »

Loving this thread.. makes me lus to go North
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Offline Amsterdam

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #84 on: December 01, 2019, 04:28:33 pm »
Very interesting RR.  Looking forward to the next instalments on the DRC.
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Offline Tom van Brits

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #85 on: December 03, 2019, 04:58:52 pm »
Legend RR  :thumleft:

Offline Dustman

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #86 on: December 04, 2019, 01:54:14 pm »
Great RR!  :thumleft: :sip:
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Offline NiteOwl

From Zaire to Zaire
« Reply #87 on: December 20, 2019, 12:22:00 am »
The queue at the Sonangol pumps is not very appealing, so we sneak past the barrier tape of the local Puma filling station, ostensibly to buy some coffee in their chilly air-conditioned shop (so comfy that the place is packed with non-customers fiddling on their phones).

Outside, looking forlornly at the row of idle pumps, one of the pump attendants takes pity on us. After a few shouts, a key appears and the pump is unlocked to fill our tanks! So more like fuel rationing than dry pumps, after all.

We set off on the 60 km to the border. It starts well enough, but the potholes forecast by our new friend from Orion Transport are soon evident.

The conditions alternate between strips of tar and patches with potholes. Nothing too hectic, however, the suspension just soaks it all up.

Luvo (Luvu locally) is actually a town on the Angolan side carrying the same name as the river (Lufu!) that divides it from the DRC. The main road through the town leads straight to the border post, and it’s packed with people, buses, hawker stalls, more people…. you get the idea.

Angola and the DRC have been the nemesis of many an overlander due to their visa requirements and inflexible immigration officials. We don’t really know what to expect other than lengthy delays. The road leads to a steel gate manned by a soldier, who helpfully points us towards the immigration office.

Since today is Saturday, it’s Market Day- hence all the activity. It literally goes on like this for a few kilometres. The salmon-pink Angolan migracio estranger offices are buried in the middle of all this commerce, with a secure fence around it. We seem to be the only people that need to report here- estrangers!

An official in a T-shirt approaches, and in good English demands our passports to check that we have visas for the DRC. We get told to wait in an office. The occupant is rather set on his air-conditioned comfort and insists we wait outside and close the door. At least there is a usable toilet down the passage.

After about half an hour our paperwork is completed and we are free to exit Angola. It’s a narrow opening through a second steel gate:


There’s a sea of humanity heading downhill, so we go with the flow, trying to stay ahead of the beggars and pickpockets.

It leads to a Bailey bridge that spans the Luvo river. Most of the goods are carried manually, some of it is in handcarts and the lucky (rich?) ones drive the ubiquitous Keweseki trikes- no bakkies in sight. It feels like a time warp.

We get halfway across the bridge before a customs official directs us back to the Angolan side. What now?

There’s more waiting, but all they actually need is to record our bike registration numbers into a ledger and photograph them- like when we entered more than 2 000km back (why do officials get issued with dark uniforms in these hot places??).

This time we do get across the bridge to enter a fenced compound with a single office building. A police officer in a pale blue uniform sitting at a desk seems in charge of this border post. He too speaks English, and tells us that they need to copy our passports. A man in civilian clothes duly sets off with our documents and arrives back half an hour later. Our visas are stamped and we are good to go- no tax, no TIP!

It’s a short loop through the mud in front of Immigration before we cross a boom, a gate and… we are in a new country. We have left Zaire province in Angola for the country known as Zaire in the days of the Rumble in the Jungle (you have to be older than 50 to remember…).

Not exactly a tourist Mecca nowadays, if you believe the FCO advisories.

***** Some background on our new country*****

Belgium’s king Leopold II commissioned Henry Morton Stanley (he of “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” fame) in 1879 to scout the area around the Congo river and sign treaties on his behalf with local chiefs. Leopold exploited the area he called the Congo Free State for ivory and rubber to finance its administration. It is fabulously rich in minerals, but this has proved to be a mixed blessing for the country as these have been plundered from within and without.

By 1960, African nationalism was in full swing and Patrice Lumumba was elected as president of the new Republic of the Congo. After various crises, Lumumba was murdered and Mobutu Sese Seko came to power. He soon moved to eradicate Western influence in the country by banning suits and ties, nationalising foreign-owned companies and renaming it the Republic of Zaire. Mobutu publicly executed rivals and eased himself into an opulent lifestyle while most of the country lived in poverty (he had the runway of the airport near his palace at Gbadolite extended so that he could charter the Concorde for shopping trips to Paris!).

Production dwindled after independence, not helped by nationalisation of the country’s largest mining conglomerate: 440 000 tons of copper and cobalt production in 1989 fell to 35 000 tons from the “transformed” Gécamines, which had generated 85% of the DRCs export earnings in its heyday.

In the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, many Hutus (who had been supported by Mobutu) fled into the DRC to escape reprisals. When they regrouped to try to overthrow the new Tutsi-led government, the Rwandan army countered by supporting a rebel movement headed by Laurent Kabila in what became known as the First Congo War. It ended when Kabila’s rebels took over Kinshasa but flared up again a year later in the Second Congo War. Although most people are aware of the Rwandan genocide, few know of the millions of casualties that resulted from the Congo Wars – the deadliest conflict since WW2. UN peacekeepers are still kept busy around Goma to this day.

When Mobutu was ousted in 1997, he left behind a country burdened with debt, devoid of infrastructure and a dysfunctional public service. Little has changed.

Although the DRC’s inflation rate is similar to South Africa’s, the currency isn’t tradeable- even the money-changers at the border only deal in kwanzas and dollars. And so, due to the low level of official export commodities, the country is not able to import any meaningful quantity of manufactured goods from their origin. This explains the busy trade across the border with Angola and we run another gauntlet before the mêlée of people finally thins out. It literally goes on for kilometres- check out the video below.

There are two police roadblocks along the way. We get waved through the first one, and get asked for a bribe at the second. We  act dumb until they let us go in frustration.

Despite being twice the area of South Africa, which has comparable mineral riches, there are only 3 000 km of paved roads here. South Africa has fifty times more. There’s a 20 km stretch of smooth clay to reach this network from Luvo. Slippery when wet stuff.

Since it is dry, we soon reach the main road from Matadi to Kinshasa at Songololo, where there’s surprisingly little traffic.

Songololo is a one-horse town that mainly subsists from the sale of the goods carted across the border behind us.

Our first few kilometres on the DRC’s N1 highway (we’d call it a regional road) proceed rather well.

The first major town en route to Kinshasa is Kimpese, about 100km from the border. It makes up for the lack of traffic in spades. We look out for an ATM to get some Congolese Francs for fuel, food and accommodation. Fortunately, there’s one along the main road. First problem solved.

It’s hard to tell what is produced in the DRC. Apart from building material like cement, even food staples like this rice (from Thailand, via Angola!) and wheat flour (produced in Angola) are all imported.

It is obvious that bush camping along the roads here will be almost impossible with the dense population, so we try scour the areas along the road for signs of an auberge or a suitable campsite (wishful thinking). Right on the outskirts of the town I spot a green lawn that looks promising.

It turns out to belong to the local hospital. A friendly woman at the gate says we can’t camp here, but commandeers one of the young guys hanging around to show us to the local guesthouse. Problem 2 solved?

His blinged-up bike is still partially wrapped in the factory plastic, and he looks reticent to get it dirty, but she is quite adamant and he sets off with us in tow. After a couple of false turns, we end up at the back of a house. A rather dismal sight greets us, but the owner helpfully directs our guide to the guesthouse next door.

Fortunately, that is in better repair and it even sports a new coat of paint.

Both our guide and the receptionist seem to have mistaken us for a Dollar-ATM as we get offered a room for $75 while the guide expects us to refill his entire tank for the one kilometre he’s covered. I hasten to correct the misconception, and discover that a major problem with paying in USD here is that everything is rounded up to the nearest five dollars. One dollar bills (watch this space) are scoffed at. Just as well that we drew some local currency, but it won’t last long at this rate.

After settling the room charge, it’s time to unpack and unwind. We’ve been going for more than twelve hours straight, with a border crossing to boot. Although our room is air-conditioned, the supply of water is timed for a few hours in the evening and a few in the morning. Fortunately we have arrived in time to shower- Problem 3 sorted.

Problem 4 requires a ride back into town to source some food. I get directed to the BHP restaurant off the main road. It looks OK and I order two buns with eggs, cheese and tomato. Beer is on offer along the main drag, but beer bottles are sold in bottles here, which are recycled and therefore carry a deposit. So they have to be consumed on site. I promise to return the bottles first thing in the morning and get allowed to cart them off to our room!

The beer and cider are great, but the buns turn out to contain a vile-smelling polony filling with no eggs, no cheese, no tomato… we cook one of our instant meals instead. At least the bed-linen is clean and the room is cool and comfortable.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 04:44:38 pm by NiteOwl »
Do it before you die!
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Offline Tom van Brits

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #88 on: December 26, 2019, 10:38:16 am »
Please keep it coming!!  :thumleft:

Offline Goingnowherekwickly

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #89 on: January 19, 2020, 06:50:01 pm »
 Loving this report, looking forward to the next installment

Offline Kaboef

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #90 on: January 19, 2020, 09:21:46 pm »

What an adventure.
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Offline reinton

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #91 on: January 20, 2020, 07:08:28 pm »

 Come on Night Owl, don't be so cruel to us!  :)

Offline Clockwork Orange

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #92 on: January 21, 2020, 10:28:09 am »

 Come on Night Owl, don't be so cruel to us!  :)

Agreed, we need our fix :deal:
When in doubt...grab throttle!!!

Offline dirtyXT

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #93 on: January 21, 2020, 12:27:38 pm »
 :sip: wow!
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Offline NiteOwl

Funny Money
« Reply #94 on: January 24, 2020, 04:24:41 am »
We are up well before the kitchen opens- delayed by a power failure. It’s a good opportunity to grease the bike chains and return the beer bottles. And the smelly buns.

Although our breakfast is a little spartan (no salt, no pepper, no butter, instant coffee), fresh baguettes and tasty omelettes are served.

Our next objective is the “other Congo” (the Congo Republic, a former French colony) so we need to get across the border between the two countries. Which happens to be the Congo river. Due to rapids, it is not navigable from capital to coast, but apart from the huge bridge at Matadi there are ferries at various points upstream where the water flows slower and wider.

The “official” crossing is the ferry between Kinshasa and Brazzaville, but it has a daunting reputation for red tape and greenbacks, i.e. bribery. The alternatives are via Luozi, west of Kimpese, and closer to the capital at Pioka. The roads to both are apparently badly eroded, but as long as it does not rain this should be manageable. And more enjoyable than a run-in with the notorious bureaucracy and local traffic.

The only sightseeing on the DRC menu for us is the botanical garden at Kisantu, which is near my coordinates for Pioka. So we give Luozi a miss. That turns out to be a mistake.

Between the towns there is almost no traffic, and our initial progress is encouraging. But the gaps become closer as we approach Kinshasa.

Travelling in the DRC turns out to be depressing and stressful. The entry to each town is lined with rubbish that is simply strewn along the side of the road, just past the first trading stalls.

Nobody drives fast, but the flow of bicycles, motorbikes, taxis and trucks is dense and incessant. And every vehicle is overloaded- having passengers and cargo hanging out and over a vehicle is par for the course.

There are actually four men on this taxi (count the feet!):

Some affectionate grooming in the shade of a truck…Africa is never dull.

Buildings remind one of a past era- almost all window panes have been replaced with paper or cardboard in this magistrate’s court if you look closely.

We pass more roadblocks where the police openly ask for money after the usual interrogation of passports, carte grise (vehicle registration papers), where are you going to/coming from etc. With our intercoms we can co-ordinate our actions and the most effective tactic is to stop side by side in the middle of the road when we get accosted, effectively blocking the traffic building up behind us.

“Welcome to the Lukala Toll.” As everywhere else in the world except South Africa, bikes don't pay toll fees here.

Hawkers offer food to the travellers that have to slow down for the toll booths, but when you try to buy just a few bananas you can only buy half a tree.

Filling stations are not common, but we manage to fill up at a pump in Mbanza Ngungu. No adjoining café with coffee here- just the basics! The contrast with Angola is stark.

After crossing the Inkisi river and passing the medical faculty of l’Université Kongo we turn off the main road onto a gravel road to the botanical garden at Kisantu.

Voetspore made it sound like a place worth visiting, raving about the Jesuit priest who established the garden in 1900.

Things start well enough for us but end in disappointment when our 5000 Congolese Franc note (to use a camera inside) is rejected after we have filled in the visitor’s book! The offending bank note was dispensed from yesterday's ATM and has been issued by the Congolese Reserve Bank, but apparently it is only legal tender in Kinshasa. Crazy!

We end up only paying the admission fee, but there are no guides and half the drinks on the restaurant’s menu are unavailable.

We leave with a bad taste, without bothering to explore the flora. This place is simply anti-tourist. There are more toll booths after we rejoin the main road to Kinshasa and stop for lunch. Tyres are repaired in an open-air workshop alongside.

At this point we need to find a turnoff to Pioka, where there is supposed to be a ferry across the Congo River to get to Brazzaville. We ask around, but it must have another name in the DRC- nobody knows about it.

After a half-hour excursion up a narrow track that initially looked promising, we turn back to the main road to navigate the Kinshasa traffic.

It’s a Sunday, so things can only get busier tomorrow as all the shops we pass are boarded up except some open-air furniture shops. Note those nasty open gutters along the sides of the road (a local feature to deal with rainfall of some 1.5m per year).

It is as if there is a traffic cordon around the city, and we have a repeat of yesterday’s experience. Yellow taxis fill every inch of road, with pedestrians and bikes threading between them. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet but with flip-flops is de rigueur here. The coolest dudes ride with the balls of their feet on the pegs while the flops hang below the pegs.

Abruptly, the road opens up and offices and schools replace the multitude of shops.

It leads onto the Boulevard du 30 Juin (the date of the DRC’s independence from Belgium) where traffic is sedate and sparse. Quite an anomaly.

Government offices and banks straddle the boulevard, but it lacks a focal point- probably the missing statue of a deposed leader. Instead there are some defunct fountains surrounded by acres of tiles at the triangular city centre.

Although the fountains were clearly functional when the square was completed in 2010 by the Chinese, this barren city has no vibe. Or maybe we just didn’t pick it up.

We round the corner past the railway station towards Kinshasa port, in the hope that we may nip across on the last ferry of the day. But the gates are closed: it’s Sunday and they have closed early (16H00). “Come back tomorrow morning.”

So now we have to find accommodation in this city where rooms are notoriously expensive. The GPS indicates a camping spot nearby, but it turns out to be the Eye Institute. My wife chats up the watchman (who looks sympathetic), while I go around the block to look for a guest house near the South African embassy. It’s a pretty spread out place and looks inviting, until I glance at the price list (those are USD prices). Ouch!

Mrs Owl has had better luck and after an hour or so of waiting, the Eye Institute’s boss has given the OK for us to camp on their small lawn. As long as we are gone by eight the next morning.
That won’t be a problem. We start to unpack and share our last remaining Amarulas with the helpful watchmen.

The tent is only just pitched when the first raindrops plop down on the canvas. We hastily grab everything and relocate under the adjacent carports.

There’s a café at a Total filling station around the corner that I spotted whilst looking for lodging, but by the time we reach it they’re locking up and the heavens open up. We’re drenched to the skin before we are able to duck into a sports bar half a block away. Tropical rains!

My wife is not a fan of beer, but cider is not available so we down a Primus lager apiece before asking the barman if he serves cheese and egg sandwiches. He tells us to wait and disappears down the sidewalk. A good 20 minutes later we each have a plate in front of us and tuck in. There’s cheese (a rarity here) but no egg.

When it comes to settling our bill we learn the realities of the local economy: no credit cards accepted, only cash. We don’t have enough Congolese Francs, so we need to find an ATM. Our host is very understanding and lets us go in search of an ATM. It’s easier said than done – even after scouring the area for nearly an hour we cannot find a single  ATM that is both serviceable AND contains cash. Since dollars are accepted (preferred) here anyway, we end up fetching a few bills from our luggage to settle. It’s $12, but for some weird reason the barman rather wants the $2 part paid in Congolese Francs .

For every input there is normally an output, and back at the Eye Institute I have to scurry for the toilets. They are the excruciating (for me) squat models. Running water is a distant memory here and everything is filthy. A large insect crawls out of the bowl as I flush with a bucket from the nearby drum.

The showers are little better, but at least some water trickles from the open pipe above my head. It’s worth taking Crocs on a trip, if only for the risk of athlete’s foot in places like this. A distinct itchiness between my toes lingers long after the shower.

It drizzles on and off through the night and the air is hot and sticky. Since we are under the carport, we can remove the flysheet and unleash the can of Doom we bought in Luanda to control the mosquitos circling around the tent for a taste of our blood. I sink into an uneasy sleep, mentally bracing myself for the inevitable verbal sparring that is bound to follow when we get back to the port.
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Online lowrider

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #95 on: January 24, 2020, 07:19:30 am »
What an adventure, thanks for sharing!   :sip:
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Offline Tom van Brits

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #96 on: January 24, 2020, 10:20:43 am »
Yes hotels are just ridiculously expensive in the DRC and years back - 2004 - I spent a night there on the street. Was sitting right in front of the hotel against the wall and managed to sleep a couple hours and moved on to the airport in the morning. South Sudan also crazy expensive on hotel accommodations.
Sad to read about the Botanical garden experience as well.

Offline Berden

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #97 on: January 24, 2020, 01:12:58 pm »
Thnx for sharing,



Offline Clockwork Orange

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #98 on: January 24, 2020, 06:50:08 pm »
Great to see an update. Thanks for sharing.
When in doubt...grab throttle!!!

Offline roxenz

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #99 on: January 28, 2020, 12:55:31 pm »
Ja, this is a very interesting trip - fascinating!
Ek sal laaik van n prentjie hier sit, maar is te f0kken onnosel...