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Author Topic: To the Lungs of the Earth  (Read 2238 times)

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Offline MRK Miller

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #60 on: October 10, 2019, 06:25:43 am »
Love how you are doing this, the camp anywhere style. Just got my wife a little honde 250 tornado as well, and she is loving it  The little rectangular things next to the forks look like little solar panel. Are they. Cannot wait for your next part
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Offline woody1

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #61 on: October 10, 2019, 07:49:00 am »
Thanks for sharing.  :ricky:


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Offline NiteOwl

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #62 on: October 10, 2019, 02:40:17 pm »
The little rectangular things next to the forks look like little solar panel. Are they.

No. Those are a special reflective tape. Black by day, white by night.

Solar is redundant with the Tornado's huge alternator ;-)
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Offline NiteOwl

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Descending from the Plateau
« Reply #63 on: October 10, 2019, 06:07:16 pm »
A small crowd of schoolchildren collects next to us as we finish packing in the morning. We are not the centre of attraction, though- we have unknowingly hijacked their school!

Note the plastic chairs- a common feature in Angola; for school (and church) you have to bring your books AND a chair.

A notable change since we left Huambo is that the rivers now flow from east to west (to the coast, as you would expect), where their currents ran in the opposite direction from around Lubango. We cross the Keve river and floodplain:

We pull up next to some women selling produce along the road- it turns out to be regular maize meal. There are babies galore- Angola still has a very high fertility rate of 5.6 children per woman (from a high of 7.5 in 1975) while life expectancy increased from 43 years to 62 years over the same period. Which is why one doesnít see many grey heads.

The next moment, a bakkie pulls up and six heavily armed men jump out. What now?

Fortunately, they are just stopping for some banter on their way to the next town.

Everyone is suitably impressed by their swagger, until an approaching truck blasts his horn and slams on the brakes: one of the many kids has wandered off into the road. The truck driver narrowly misses it as the mother freezes in horror. The father emerges and scoops up the child, which is unaware of the averted danger.

There are more roadworks and a detour further on, and concrete is getting mixed for the culverts. The road is arrow-straight.

The landscape has changed since yesterday: round rocky protrusions and a few spires surround us and at the foot of one is a resort of sorts: Lupupa Lodge. The location is spectacular, but rather remote. Conferences anyone?

Closeup of the rocky dome behind the lodge:

Mrs Owl is a real coffee aficionado and left her beans and Bialetti pot behind with a heavy heart. To compensate, she has used a significant part of her duffel bag for a large stock of Nescafe cappuccino sachets and each morning, after the first hundred kmís or so, we pull off the road to stretch our legs and make coffee. Something to look forward to every day. But she has discovered that most of the ďformalĒ filling stations have an espresso machine that can brew a mean cup.

Like this one in Waku-Kungo. According to the advert, if you buy 9 coffees and the tenth one is on the house!

The same armed guards we met a short way back are deployed outside, while the dayís innings are collected. As I mentioned earlier on: all that cash must be tempting. I walk a safe distance across the road after they have roared off to shoot a video that gives a good feel of the vibe in the small towns. Quite relaxed.

And so we reach Quibala by lunchtime. This where we have come from:

This area used to be the breadbasket of Angola; it reminds me of Masvingo in Zimbabwe, which went the same way. Thereís a supermercado (supermarket) at the entrance of the town and we need food.

No vehicles are parked outside. The shelves are well stocked, but thereís only one other customer. They have a bakery, but no bread.

They also sell coffee from Gabela, a town about 75 km west of here. Angola used to be Africaís largest coffee producer but the civil war, followed by centralised planning, has put paid to that. We would have liked to visit the once-famous plantation, but 150km is too much of a detour.

We turn off the main road to look for a padaria, and manage to get some of his last rolls.

Along the way is another leftover from the war, almost overgrown by the weeds. Itís not the only one- many landmines still remain in the region, too.

We have actually passed the Brug 14 battle site that lies halfway between Waku-Kungo and Quibala without noticing, but there is no signpost-  itís probably of little importance in Angolaís long war history.

Back at the main road intersection, we cross over to the church at Quibala. The Voetspore manne raved about it, but itís underwhelming. The clock is stuck at twenty to eight. And will be for the foreseeable future.

We are let in by the caretaker, who waits at the door.

There is some fine leaded glass work inside, and the traditional crucifixion statue behind the pulpit.

Leaded glass detail (probably imported?):

A mere three kilometres on is a Franciscan church with a welcoming driveway leading to its unfinished entrance that turns out to be a lot more charming, even without a bell (or clock) in the steeple.

We park under the trees for our lunch and take a walk around the grounds afterwards. The animated priest proudly shows off the inside- itís all handmade by the monks, and though modestly finished, looks like it is actually used. No caretakers required.

At the edge the town are the remnants of a Portuguese fort. Instead of a garrison, it now sports a cellphone tower.

The elevation has slowly decreased since we left Tundavala, but after Quibala, the descent is rapid and noticeable.

So far, itís been subsistence farming all the way but then we come across this:

Clearly, someone has come up with the necessary investment for a commercial farming operation to grow some crops at scale. Tomatoes, perhaps? With the Longa river next door, water wonít be a problem.

About 90% of Angolaís oil is exported to China. In return, about a quarter of a million Chinese in Angola are beavering away rebuilding bridges, rehabilitating roads and railways and developing the ports. Itís a closed system, with Chinese financing for Chinese construction companies using Chinese labour. Housed in industrial blue compounds like this one:

The sign outside indicates that this setup is for the rehabilitation of the EN120 road we are on, all the way back to the Keve river.

With the descent towards Dondo, our progress speeds up as we drop from 5000 to 500 ft over the next 100 km and the vegetation turns tropical and lush. It also gets hot and humid.

Thereís a large bridge across the Cuanza river with a police checkpoint at the end. We stop to look for the rapids upstream, but they are not visible from the road. The police wave us on and we pass the Cambambe dam where there are camping spots for fishing along the edge of the water.

The town of Alto Dondo hugs the Cuanza river downstream of the dam.

Itís a poor neighbourhood.

There are two great sights east of here: the black rocks of Pedras Negras and, north of there, the Lucala riverís Calandula waterfalls. Thereís a good road all the way there from Dondo and, according to our ďguidesĒ in the Huambo hotel, all the way up to Uige, about 300km away in the northern corner of the country.

Our Michelin map shows a road from Uige to Mbanza Congo, from where we want to reach the DRC. T4A shows nothing, and in Huambo we were told that there is no road.

We refuel and ask around. The pump attendants confirm the ďno roadĒ statement. It would be great to visit the falls and the black rocks, but it would take two extra days if we cannot carry on to the DRC from there. Reluctantly, we turn towards the coast. We hit roadworks straight away and ride on the newly compacted foundation next to the temporary road like the local bikers. There are obstructions to block traffic, but itís much better that the dusty track alongside where big trucks are rumbling along.

Apparently we are riding through a park, and rows of baobabs line the side of the road. The vegetation is dense.

Eventually the detours end and patches of tar reappear under the sand. We take a break at another open air market. Thereís some strange white fibrous pulp for sale that we have never seen before (but we see plenty of from here onwards).

It turns out to be the fruit of all those baobab trees, from which juice is also made.

Itís time to start thinking about our next camp, so we stock up on cold beer, cider and water (yes, they have fridges out here in the sticks).

Our next campsite appears soon enough when we follow a side road and double back through a clearing. The air is humid and our clothes are soaked from the heat. We pitch the tent and peel off our smelly kit.

After another lappiestort and a cold drink or two things are looking (feeling) rather good and we even get a visitor!

(I think itís a slant-faced grasshopper- perhaps one of our entomologists can confirm?)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 03:17:16 pm by NiteOwl »
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Offline Kaboef

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #64 on: October 11, 2019, 05:34:10 am »
Fantastic report.   

Did you eat that boabab pulp?
And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

Offline Tom van Brits

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #65 on: October 12, 2019, 04:29:06 am »
Love this adventure, keep on sharing please  :thumleft:

Offline David.H

Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #66 on: Yesterday at 02:35:16 pm »
I am enjoying your photos. What camera equipment did you take?

Offline roxenz

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Re: To the Lungs of the Earth
« Reply #67 on: Yesterday at 07:33:37 pm »
Great adventure and a beautiful, interesting RR. Thanks for taking the trouble. Really looking forward to the rest.

I have been to Angola a few times in the last 18 months (in Saurimo at moment), and the country is really growing on me. Just have to get my Portuguese up to speed. If things work out, I'll be kinda relocating here for next 3 years or more.

What I really like: virtually no tourists. And friendly people.

Roads can be bad, a 300km stretch last week took 9 excruciating, bouncing hours in the Cruiser. Some lovely bush roads, which just cry out for dual sports riding. And motos everywhere! I've been pillion on some tracks (footpaths where Cruiser cannot go). Frigging uncomfy on the back of such a small bike.  :P;D