Angola-breakdowns,mines and tanks

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Africa » Angola » North » Luanda
October 31st 2009
Published: October 31st 2009
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After a couple of days camping at a catholic mission school in Matardi,preparing and repairing for our race through Angola,we departed DRC via a remote border post to the north at Songololo. We camped the night in a quarry. The roads were terrible and we made slow progress until lunchtime on day 2 (of 5) the radiator was destroyed by the fan after a particularly deep hole. We limped into N'Zeto a small seaside town and spent the next 6 hours on the roadside getting the radiator repairs. When these proved to be ineffective we were allowed to stay in a construction compound 3 Kms out of town with fence and security. We ended up staying nights 2,3and 4 there before getting a proper repair done.Our unexpected stay in N'Zeto was interesting. It seems they backed the wrong side in the war and paid the price. There were many destroyed buildings and some mass graves and still the town is only half full. It is a pretty little place for all that ,a mail street ending at some nice beaches and lots of esturine birds and other wildlife. It was time to move on since we had 1 day left on our visa and 2000kms to go!!
The next day we drove on to the provincal capital and after much talking and pleading they agreed to extend our visas (for a price of course). Again we were lucky because this was anice little town complete with supermarket and rusting Russian tank in a surburban street and Portuguese buildings. We hit Luanda the next afternoon and what a place. This is one of the best situated cities in the world with a long bay and with corniche and the 'Ihla' a natural breakwater stretching a few miles out into the ocean. There are squalid barrios and magnificant old portuguese buildings. We camped in the city park far out on the Ilha. Annie and I walked to the city and back and along the bay and enjoyed the great spectacle. There is much contrast - decaying buildings with bullet holes next to million dollar pleasure yachts and crime out of control-and the Ihla we found out after walking home in the dark is amongst the worst. There are eating pleasures -at a price. We shared a heavenly pizza and a beer each, at a cafe and paid a not so heavenly price of $50USD. We travelled on through some of the places which we had wanted to visit for a long time. Lobito,Benguella- the start of the famous Benguella railway -Now being restored and Lubango- Not before the motor had seized in the heat and we had camped by the road 100kms short of Lubango. Lubango is a beautiful town which was untouched by the war and with a large hill just out of town with a Cristo Rei -Christ the redeemer statue which of course we visited. We drove on to N'giva -40 kms short of the Namibian border and crossed over the following day (day 11). Angola is a fantastic place-the destruction is evident almost every where with burnt out buildings, minefields preventing walking more than 5 meters off many roads and war remnants such as Russian tanks,helicopters etc here and there. This is mixed with lots of rebuilding and smiles and friendly people everywhere.


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